“Hi, it is right out of the station to get to Brixton Academy isn’t it?”

I texted nervously Pennyblackmusic photographer Matt Williams as I walked gingerly through Brixton, and before I had the reply there it was-Brixton Academy, the place where dreams are made. Well something like that.

I only found out I had this job the day before and so I hadn’t really had time to prepare for or find out the important details for the day. I discovered this very quickly as I found myself being pulled backwards through the main entrance of the Academy by two of what can only be described as bloody huge doorstaff. After I had explained that I was on the headline bands guest list and dusted myself off I was instructed to go to the stage door where the guest list was held. It was at this very second I started to realise that this was a REAL punk gig with a lot of very studded, tattooed and spiky looking people watching me walk past in my fashionable trousers and denim jacket.

“I’m ok” I thought.

“Just tell them you’re a journalist, you’ll be fine”

So I got to the door, gave them my name and I got given the standard press pass and directed through to front of house, where I emerged straight out in front of the stage and found myself completely lost. I eventually, however, sorted myself out and found my way to the sound-desk, got a beer and awaited the next band.

I like punk, but, to be truthful, I hadn’t been to a punk gig in a good two years and now I remembered why.

The first two bands I saw, the Beatsteaks and Pulley just kind of merged into one, with the high point being Arnim Teutoberg, the lead singer of the Beatsteaks crowd surfing standing on top of his guitar case, which I have to say made me want to buy the guy a drink!

It wasn’t until the New York band. the Slackers, came onto stage with their laid back Ska vibe that I really began enjoying the gig. These guys were really good. They had great tunes, a strong image,were incredibly tight as a band and had practically all 4000 people bouncing around as if the summer had finally arrived. What was even better still came when their horn player, Dave Hillyard,took over vocals and proceeded to, in my eyes, blow lead singer, Marq Lyn, off the stage!

Alas all too quickly they had to leave to make way for the political punk stylings of Antiflag. By this point in the day I was tired and so I was sitting down alongside most of the other people in the venue, but then as soon as they came on BAM! The whole place stood up together and cheered loudly, I was shocked. I had never seen this happen to such a large crowd, so saying I was interested in what would happen next was an understatement. I was initially let down, I know full well that Antiflag are a political band but the two of the three bands I had seen already had pushed the anti Bush/Blair thing to the limit and by now it was starting to get tedious. Especially with the common demographic of the audience looking to me as under voting age! But, to be fair, they played a blinder. The crowd loved it. I found myself warming to it and eventually loving it and it was all round a great warm up for MxPx. who were possibly the most commercial band on tonight’s bill

They came on to a huge instrumental intro which the band then also began to play and I have to say that they played a good tight set. I don’t know any of their stuff and so everything was new and exciting to me! And from my position at the back of the hall I saw the world's largest circle pit take shape and spin round like a dangerously large whirlpool from a drain plug! (Possibly the worse simile I have ever written!) But indeed if I had been three years younger and a whole hell load healthier I would have joined right in!

Last but not least was Pennywise. I only discovered these guys about a year ago. Horrific I know, but, man, did I feel dumb when I found them! Again having not had acres of time to prepare for the gig, I didn’t get enough time to get hold of any of their albums so I had fallen back on my rather limited MP3 collection of their songs. To my joy they played my favourite song of the stuff I have heard which is 'Land of the Free'. This song is what punk should be, fast, angry and with an anti capitalist, anti corporate message and in comparison to all other bands protests this evening I think it went down the best. Even though the band must be pushing mid to late 30's by now they still put on a riot of a show and were still playing when I had to leave to get the last tube home.

I went home with some cracking tunes in my head, some new bands to check out and a strange urge to get some piercings, some more tattoos and kick back with a low slung guitar hung round my neck.

Punk ! You can’t beat it.













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