Due to some overly stringent Finnish border officials, members of Finisterre’s sometimes touring partners Altercado have found themselves stranded in Russia and, without the cash necessary for a return flight, all proceeds from tonight are going towards somehow getting them back home. It’s a worthy cause and testament to both the sense of community and the DIY spirit tonight, though the dirt-cheap distro stall at the back doesn’t hurt either. Still, it’s punk that the few dozen people shunted into this dank basement want and it’s punk they get, in ethos if not in sound.
First up are local sludge mob D.T.P., who have been steadily improving both their sound and reputation in the past year, and from the sounds of them tonight they’re only going to get better. It’s Eyehategod by way of Easterhouse, a slow and scuzzy trawl through volume and depravation that’ll kick you square if the kidneys if you’re not careful. With a vocalist straight out of the Phil Anselmo’s ‘tense and aggro’ school of frontmanry and a guitarist who throws slickly disjointed soundbursts into the most impenetrable sludge, their brief set is packed with highlights, including a short, no-frills rendition of ‘Dopethrone’ that somehow exceed the fuckedness of the original. For such a young band, they piss all over most of the ‘veterans’ that still claim relevance.
If D.T.P. excelled in being uncontrived and simply trying to beat the crowd into submission with a low-end coshing, Leagues couldn’t be more of a U-turn. Melodic hardcore that puts equal weight on both terms, they somehow excel at being both crisp and cluttered, jumping from one punchy and catchy demi-riff to another with a seeming lack of forethought. It’s a tad frustrating, but at the very least their obvious technical skill and the originality of the material eventually transcends their scattershot approach. But then there’s their vocalist, a walking mass of hardcore clichés that swings air-punches every minute like a Tourette’s-afflicted Trustkill signee, throws Jesus Christ poses and swings his mic in a venue the size of a doctor’s waiting room, with one front-row member jumping two feet to avoid getting clocked in the face. It might tick all the boxes, but it’s still borderline obnoxious.
Thank fuck for Finisterre, then. After an insidiously slow intro that slowly summons slumbering post-hardcore gods via forbidden distortion pedals, the d-beats kick in, a leather-clad punk enthusiastically starts beating the shit out of the floor and diminutive vocalist Manuela kicks off. Stalking the crowd and staring the audience dead in the eyes with every line, she’s a formidable frontwoman who, between songs, is disarmingly charming, while the tightly interlocked efforts of guitarists Hütte and Philipp sound more balanced and focused than their recorded alter-egos manage to. For an (admittedly atypical) crust band the Deutsch quintet rely heavily on threats of audio violence than actual assaults, the appropriately-titled Potential Threat twinning Manuela’s seething diatribes with a low, blusterous growl of a riff, though it’s when the beats kick in that the band seem the most enthusiastic, and so does everyone else, a curiously upbeat Coffee Killer even seeing Manuela break into the hardcore equivalent of the happy dance.
After 7 songs, though, they’re done. 7 songs! They looked ready for more, the crowd definitely wanted more, and yet it never happened; 20-25 minutes of primo German hardcore is seemingly all that one room can handle in a single evening. Still, short as it was, it was hard to fault. Tight, conscientious and overwhelmingly enthusiastic, it’s a stark reminder that DIY punk is where it’s at.
Scribed by: Dave Bowes