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Wormrot / Afternoon Gentlemen / The Atrocity Exhibit (live at The Underworld)

London 23 February 2017

Wormrot live February 2017OK, so full disclosure — it’s been at least a decade since I went to a grindcore show. At least a decade; maybe two. So I’m coming at this with… if not “fresh”, then at least “renewed” eyes (if not ears). I’ve not been keeping up with the live scene, let’s put it that way.

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The Vintage Caravan / Dead Lord (live at The Underworld)

London 13 November 2016

The Vintage Caravan live November 2016The last time I saw The Vintage Caravan play, they were promoting their first album and supporting Blues Pills on an evening that saw both bands give their all. Tonight, as I made my way to the subterranean delights of The Underworld in Camden, I had already made up my mind that there would be no such competition this time and that the headliners would probably cross the finish line well ahead of the support band.

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Desertfest London 2016

London 29 April – 1 May 2016

Oranssi Pazuzu live at Desertfest 2016 (Picture: Richie Ruchpaul)Desertfest is the place where the stoned immaculate of Britain (and several other countries) meet in one of London’s coolest areas, watch some of the heaviest (and out there) bands over a three day period in five different venues.

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The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing (live at The Underworld)

TMTWNBBFN live at The Underworld November 2015

TMTWNBBFN live at The Underworld November 2015London 21 November 2015

A grim Saturday night in Olde London Towne, and The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing have their name up in lights. Well, kind of; even the acronym only just about fits above Camden’s legendary Underworld.

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The Psychedelic Warlords (live at The Underworld)

Psychedelic Warlords December 2014London 18 December 14

We are heading towards the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, and this will be my last gig of a fairly packed year. In a strange way it’s comforting to know that as I head out into a cold winter night that I already know I’m going to have a great evening hearing some wonderful songs that have swum around in my brain for years.

Tonight’s gig is more like a solstice space ritual, a coming together of space rock fans from all over London to join in and worship at the pagan altar of music that is being beamed down from the spheres and over coming the audience in translucent waves. Alan Davey, standing like a warrior

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Acid King (live at The Underworld)

Acid King live at The Underworld June 2014London 18 June 2014

Acid King are one of the few US bands to tour the UK/Europe every year, even when there is no new product to promote. Lori S, Joey Osbourne and Mark Lamb seem to get off on being on the road bringing their own brand of biker/doom/sludge to the ears of their followers where ever they may be.

The Underworld is its usual dank self, where the smell of stale beer and the overflowing toilets adds to the ambiance of a venue that has had some of the greatest metal bands tread its boards in the last few years. This is a rock venue in a very old sense of the term. When Acid King step on to the stage and Lori

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Electric Moon (live at The Underworld)

Electric Moon live at The UnderworldLondon 13 June 14

It is summertime and in Britain the early morning mist drifts across fields and clings to the roots of trees. Tents are erected and the dowdy colours of winter are a thing of the past as the children of the rainbow appear from forests and their various hiding places to worship the sun, to enjoy the abundance of nature around them. And the music these spirits of the fields like to indulge in on balmy warm evenings is psychedelic space rock.

In the olden daze there would have been these wondrous events called “free festivals” where people could dance till dawn to the sound of pounding bass lines. But then came the bad times when darkness crept across the land and the free

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Desertfest London 2014

The Black Heart, The Underworld, The Electric Ballroom London 26-27 April 2014

Desertfest is an event that takes place over three venues in three days. It is a sprawling monster that is there to bludgeon the ears of its attendees as much as possible with every conceivable manner of riff to be explored. This was my first experience of the festival, and I have to say it was a wonderfully well-organised event. The strangest thing about it is because it happens over a weekend the festival goers have to compete with the tourists and casual shoppers of Camden Town which adds to an odd combination. But once the stalls have closed down for the day the points between the venues become the tribal ground of desertfesters.

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Acid King/Wizard Fight/Lumberjack Feedback (live at The Underworld)

Acid King live at The Underworld 2013London 14 July 2013

London’s second night of stoner psychedelic rock was hotly anticipated as this was going to be the only UK date for headliners Acid King on their European tour. Unfortunately there was already a glitch before the show even started. One of the support act for the show, the wonderful Gates of Slumber had pulled out/cancelled the show, which left rather a gap to fill. The Gates would have made the perfect support for this show with their brand of Conan-inspired doom which I have seen light up The Underworld a few times and was excited to see again.

Support slots from Lumberjack Feedback and Wizard Fight tried admirably to fill this void with some prime stoner sludge doom that

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Weedeater (live at The Underworld)

The Underworld, London 18 April 2011

From the very first beer-waving introduction to the crowd eagerly awaiting the return to what would seem to be their favourite London home from home, Weedeater arrive in cheery mood, lapping up the adulation and ripping straight into a fearsome “God Luck and Good Speed,” as powerful a statement of intent as any sludge-doom-stoner-rock band is ever likely to open a show with. Bassist Dixie hams up the eye-rolling, Jack-swilling and head-slapping goofiness, but as ever, his presence onstage is a combination of the leeringly weird and the snarling hardcore punk attitude squeezed through a mincer of Southern rock cavortings and high-kicking, four-stringed catharsis. The sound is suitably dense, and Shep keeps his guitar nonchalantly turned to 11 while shredding without seeming to move from the spot between saluting the audience with his beercan; and as ever,

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Weedeater (live at The Underworld)

The Underworld, London 17 June 2010

With their tattooed limbs and trucker caps, their wall-eyed glares and N’Awlins shirts that might never actually have seen better days, Weedeater strike about as Southern image as can be imagined, straight out of Wilmington, North Carolina via the casting for a Rob Zombie slasher flick soundtracked by the leavings of the stoner blues. Set down like they were at home on the stage of Camden’s darkest haven of all things heavy and metal, the trio’s sprays of small blond dreads, forked-viper scraggly beard or the smeared pencil moustache of guitarist Shep‘s greasemonkey suavity are the hirsute equivalent of their gear from messers Marshall, Ampeg and Sunn making up the backline of battered cabs whose grilles are held together with gaffer tape as much as screws.

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Oxbow/Harvey Milk/Part Chimp (live at The Underworld)

The Underworld, London 15 July 2008

The first time I came across Part Chimp, a few years back, they were tipped as The Loudest Band in London, but now that the reanimated corpse of My Bloody Valentine has reclaimed that title with its rotting, maggoty fingers, Part Chimp have mellowed a little. They’ve also shed a bass player recently, and no doubt that has something to do with it. In any case, the volume level as they open this night at the Underworld has eased from “blistering” to something more like “mild sunburn”. Their songs have matured to fill the volume vacuum, though; whereas they previously played Black Sabbath riffs at ketamine speed and relied on sheer decibel level to get their message across, the band now have room for a little more complexity and, god forbid, even a little subtlety. There was this one Spinal Tap moment when one

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Wolves In The Throne Room/Naked Shit – Earth/Sir Richard Bishop (live at The Underworld)

The Underworld, London 10 and 12 February 2008Naked Shit Naked ShitThe day after a chunk of Camden Market burnt down, Southern Lord‘s finest black metal act touch down in The Underworld. Thankfully the conflagration was at the other end of the High Street, so the gig continued as scheduled with the only hint that something had occurred being the line of police officers across the road by the tube station.

Support act Naked Shit are notable not only for their terrible name, which at least sparks debate as to whether it’s a nude turd or an excretion performed in the altogether, but for the presence of a horse as the bass player. OK, so it’s really a man in a suit with

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Sorrow/David Tibet (live)

The Underworld, London 2nd December 2000

What was supposed to be a World Serpent presents show with Sol Invictus, Sorrow, and Ostara turned out to be a lot less/more, depending on how you look at it. Due to illness, Tony Wakeford and Sol Invictus were forced to cancel, and due to lateness(my own), I missed seeing Ostara. I did arrive in time to catch the end of a set by some man called Joe, who I have yet to identify. His acoustic guitar and John Denver-ish lyrics seemed really very out of place and I wondered if it was someone’s idea of a fun joke to play on the black-clad, maquiage extrodinaire who had obviously come in search of the dark sonics which help mainline World Serpent.

To the pleasant shock of everybody, this guy Joe was suddenly joined onstage by none other than David Tibet and Michael Cashmore, and

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Michael Rother & Dieter Moebius/Dead Voices On Air (live)

The Underworld, London 28th January 2000

Dead Voices On Air are conducting a bit of an experiment on the London leg of their tour, starting off loud, noisy and danceable and trailing down into ambient passages of extended mood workouts. Mark Spybey and Darren Phillips man the keyboards, sequencers, samplers, digital technology; Darryl Neudorf is behind a bare drumkit (complete with fluffy liner on one drum). So they kick off into a post-Industrial Dance groove, and instantly several key signifiers make links to everyone from Coil (arpeggiating keyboard weirdnesses, atmosphere), Psychic TV (the stripped analogue beats, the moments of ecstatic upness) and of course fellow Vancouverians and fellow-travellers Download (that digital Techno-noise, the earnest need for cathartic harshness). Largely instrumental, the only moment of vocal outpouring comes during a heavy-skanking Techno Dub, when the words “I hate who you are” become the mantra of the minute and the atmosphere becomes

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