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Things We Learned At A Hardcore All-Dayer

This past Saturday in Camden was the Ouch My Generator all-day hardcore punk festival at the Underworld. Featuring the likes of Coilguns, Kruger and Bations we knew it could get nasty, but this is what we learned throughout the day...

Get there early

Hey look, it’s okay – you’re still in recovery from having your brain mashed to a pulp by the excessive volume torment of Årabrot last night, and Saturday afternoons were made for Football Focus and bong hits, we get it. But 3pm is not exactly early, and if you were looking for something to blast the sensimilla from your senses then you could not have done any better than to arrive in good time to catch local(ish) openers Meadows. Stepping in at the last minute to replace local stoner behemoths Slabdragger (who unfortunately had to pull out due to vocalist/guitarist Sam Thredder suffering from a collapsed lung) the Sudbury based quartet capture that same sort of barely restrained, skin peeling ferocity and low-end skull-fuckery that Mastodon used to have, and just about blow the few early arrivals from here to Kentish Town through sheer sonic force alone. If there’s any justice this lot will be huge.

Kruger are here to spread the love

It’s tough out there, man, no doubt. And it tougher in the pit, right? Punks with facial studs slam dancing and ‘picking up change’; a seemingly endless procession crowd surfers gangly thrusting their sweaty, size 10 Vans into you face; feeling like a brick in a washing machine as you’re caught in another circle pit. But hey, Kruger loves you man! Totally belaying their ‘geography teachers on dress-down Friday’ like appearance, the Swiss quintet’s hardcore-augmented barrage of sludge heavy post-metal might be more of a gut punch than, erm, an actual gut punch – as vocalist Renaud jerks and spasms his way about the stage and the floor area, rearranging and dismantling any piece of furniture (or equipment!) he can get his hands on, the dial looks set for destruction… That is until the band reach their finishing notes and his six foot-plus frame leaps from the stage and proceeds to hug and kiss very nearly every single person in the room. “We love you!….”, he yells. “…Now, please buy our merch’!”. Ah.

Variety is what it’s all about

Granted, billing your event as and ‘all-dayer of underground genres such as doom, sludge, prog-metal, noise and math rock’ doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but doesn’t it sound more appealing than a day-long event crammed full of Converge-in-pyjamas hardcore bands or a dozen stoner/doom bands that all have ‘bong’ in their name? That today kicked off with a drunk Mastodon, ended with a blast of demonic, sulphuric hardcore, and in between featured the glacially slow doom of Undersmile, the Russian Circling post metal of Telepathy and the snarling, angsty hardcore of Mine, surely means that the promoters are as equally deserving of hails as the bands themselves, right?

Bastions have still fucking got it

If, like your humble scribe, you like your metal dressed in a cider-stained Electric Wizard t-shirt, sounding vaguely Sabbath-ian and smelling of Castrol GTX, Anglesey’s premier (only?) purveyors of spit-soaked hardcore, Bastions, might seem like a bit of a hard sell. They’re not. And, whilst it might seem like the almost ludicrously ferocious four piece have been uncharacteristically quiet since they ruptured UK Hardcore’s spleen with their fantastic Island Living EP in 2010, they haven’t been. A tighter, more taught and rabidly destructive prospect than ever, tonight the quartet come on like Discharge losing a street fight to Coalesce – so relentlessly abrasive a 30 minutes is it you can actually feel your spleen erupting and the bile rising from your gut to strip oral mucosa right out of your mouth. Which sounds intense, until you consider that vocalist Jamie Burne manages to give himself a nose bleed.

Coilguns have fucking got it too – even if we don’t get it, at first

There’s no doubt a melon-twisting, scientific formula that only River Island clotheshorse Brian Cox is capable of breaking down for us that explains just how Coilguns manage to make the totally bonkers, genre-squashing racket that they do. But, frankly, who wants him to? Utilising a vast backline and pedal board that looks like it’s on loan from CERN, the trio somehow create a colossal, hegemony destroying racket that just as often brings to mind the Dillinger Escape Plan as it does a sort of post hardcore-imagined Jesus Lizard. With a clear no-fucks-given attitude and the fact that guitarist/sonic scientist Jona Nido and vocalist/giant afro Louis Jucker seem to spend most of their 40 minute set rampaging about the cramped stage, seemingly always on the brink of colliding with each other, they deservedly win a posse of new fans.

Oathbreaker are your new favourite band

As anyone who attended Bristol’s Temples festival earlier this years will attest Oathbreaker’s teatime performance on the Sunday was one of the weekends many inarguable highlights, but could the Belgium troupe reach the same levels of intensity here in the capital? You bet your plaid shirt they could – in fact throughout their 50-odd minute headline set the quartet couldn’t have been any more intense had they scrawled their setlist in congealed blood and cracked teeth. With a similarly impassioned approach to hardcore as their countrymen, Amenra, relying on intense dynamics and cathartic, down-stroke bludgeoning to create a consuming, captivating atmosphere of unease, Oathbreaker’s secret weapon is without doubt vocalist Caro Tanghe. Head down, a mass of hair and phantom like movements; possessing the sort of demonic screams that’ll turn your hair white, the fragility and caustic fury in her voice lends the band a unique level of heaviness that mere riffs alone could never manage. A nerve-shredding yet utterly superb way to end the day…..

Speaking of which….

Don’t end your all-dayer at 10:20 pm.

Seriously?! It’s Saturday night FFS!