Lagwagon plus The Flatliners and Western Addiction
Venue: O2 Academy Islington
Date: 23rd March 2015
Islington had a nice feast of Fat Wreck Chords bands on Monday night as Lagwagon headed over to London for the first night on the UK leg of their European tour
San Francisco 4-piece Western Addiction kicked off to an almost empty room with ferocious hardcore punk. Vocalist Jason Hall’s gritty American voice suited their incredibly distinctive Californian punk style riffs. Such high energy from Western Addiction and all the set needed to give it a boost was a responsive crowd to get rowdy and join in on the shout-outs. I can imagine their hometown shows can get really crazy, though being a fairly unknown band it is understandable there was little reaction. To end their set the vocalist decided to come and join crowd, wandering about as far as the microphone lead would let him, shouting in people’s faces as he passed them before getting up on the bar to jump off it. A really enjoyable set to kick off the night
What followed that was possibly the dullest punk rock set I’ve ever witnessed, I hate to say it but The Flatliners had no Oomph to them. It’s hard to believe it can be possible if you listen to their early release ‘Destroy To Create‘ which is a very energetic ska-core album. Instead The Flatliners decided to ignore that masterpiece and play songs from their much blander “safe” punk-rock releases instead. They were just a whisper of the band they used to be and it seemed noticeable with a lack of reaction from the audience. Occasional mosh pits and some fans sang along but nothing that you would expect from this set at all. It wasn’t really until new song ‘Fangs‘ that there was a bit of bite to the occasion. In all honesty the highlight was the last song of their set ‘Eulogy‘. Not because it was the end of the set but because it had the one great reaction from the crowd as everyone sang along. The words “You will always be remembered, you will be celebrated” from the chorus rang around the room and it was a pure stand out moment from their set – was just a shame the rest of the set didn’t live up to that.
Lagwagon was another story all together, the front of the room got busier in anticipation. It had been a few years since the last time Lagwagon toured our lands and this time they had a new release for us – the first in nearly a decade. The punk rock veterans took to the stage and, unlike a lot of bands, they took a moment to engage to audience and chat shit for a couple of minutes before starting their set with ‘After You My Friend‘.
Bang! The audience was moshing as soon as the drums kicked in and from that moment on there was non-stop mosh pits throughout the set; the only exception being when Lagwagon slowed the mood with a mellow one. This was rare though as they thrashed through an incredibly energetic set as they played high tempo tracks like ‘Mr. Coffee‘ and fan favourite ‘May 16‘ – every person that has played Tony Hawks Pro Skater knows that song.
Lagwagon used the occasion to perform a large amount of their new album ‘Hang‘ released last year. A good third of their set was full of tracks from their heaviest release to date and the songs have crunchier and more heavy rock-based riffs that differ to their usual fun and energetic punk rock vibe. ‘The Cog In The Machine‘ and ‘Obsolete Absolute‘ are to date the heaviest Lagwagon songs I have heard and they were both hits with fans live. The best reaction for the new material came from the duo of opening tracks on the album ‘Burdon of Proof‘ and ‘Reign‘; ‘Burdon of Proof‘ being a nice melodic track that the crowd sang loudly with vocalist Joey Cape, which then burst nicely into the fast paced ‘Reign‘.
Cape also took a moment to remember some fallen friends. The first wasn’t mentioned by name but it was easy to tell it was for their late ex drummer Derrick Plourde. The other was for Fat Wreck Chords legend Tony Sly of No Use For A Name who passed only 3 years ago. In his memory Cape did an acoustic cover of No Use For A Name’s song ‘International You Day’ and was joined by The Flatliners vocalist Chris Cresswell. After a lengthy 24 song set it was sadly time to end the show and they did with some style, performing classics ‘Sleep‘ and ‘Razorburn‘ from the 1995 album ‘Hoss‘ to give the crowd one last run about and a change to get wild one more time. Brilliant set from Lagwagon and for anyone who didn’t catch them on this tour, they can in July when they come back with NOFX and Alkaline Trio.