Aggrolites – London Camden Underworld

By paul

The Aggrolites
Wednesday 12 August 2009
Underworld, Camden
Support: Chris Murray + The Skints

It?s dirty hot, outside and in. The London streets are splattered by a muggy mist like rain whilst the Underworld?s walls are dripping with sweat. On any given night these two factors would make for a damningly awful evening, but tonight it?s all perfect. What better way to fend of the heat than getting really really sweaty? What better way to get really really sweaty than by checking out LA reggae-soul mob, The Aggrolites?

THE SKINTS are here; they?re there; they?re every-bloody-where. And for damn good reason too; the London quartet is a fine watch, and getting better every night. Aside from being high on the Punktastic live radar the band has been busy putting the finishing touches to debut album, ?Live. Breathe. Build. Believe?, new material of which makes up the crux of tonight?s set. Taking the punky-reggae sounds of ?Sociopath? and ?Murderer?, these new tracks have an added depth (instrumentally and within the song-writing) that add a little more soul (that?s a word that?s going to pop up a lot tonight) and a lot more invention to proceedings. Jamie Kyriakides? vocal from behind the drums is incredible (eat your heart out, Phil Collins), whilst Marcia Richards? multi-instrumentalism is nothing short of astounding. Even when The Skints get it wrong (a balls-up on the opening song is well managed) the band still pulls it off. Continually good, could this be London?s best band? (4/5)

If tonight?s set was supposed to pale compared to a monolithic stand across town at the Windmill on Monday then somebody forgot to tell CHRIS MURRAY. On a time-limit the most jovial man in ska makes no delay in busting out a few quick hits and a new track all in acoustic style. It?s midset though when he?s joined by the headlining rhythm section that things pick up. ?Chris Murray: the full band? is a whole new dynamic, with ?Rocksteady? and ?Home? shining through as real belters. The crowd is suitably fired up and there?s certainly more ?going mental? (happy now, Chris?). Sure it doesn?t reach the echelons of Monday night but this is still fantastic stuff. (4)

Everything seems so effortless for THE AGGROLITES. At the same time the sweat-drenched intensity the band exerts suggests otherwise. Quite the paradox. I guess it?s easy being this hardworking. Tonight the LA quintet is on fire. Whether it?s the likes of ?Countryman Fiddle? and ?Funky Fire? from the back catalogue, or ?The Sufferer? and ?Firecracker? from the recent LP, ?IV?, everything is filled with passion, heart, soul and reggae grandeur. Jesse Wagner?s vocals are as sweet as you can get on a summer eve, whilst Roger Rivas plays a pretty mean organ. Perfect reggae tuneage.

One part mosh-pit; one part skanking dancehall; one part soul revival; tonight?s show is an absolute pleasure to watch, and even more of a pleasure to dance along to. By the time ?Dirty Reggae? blasts out to mark the ?end? of the set, there?s a full-on shout-along chorus coming from a couple hundred voices. An encore double-header exemplifies the band?s ardour for all things British, with covers of The Specials? ?A Message to You Rudy? and The Beatles? ?Don?t Let Me Down?, two moments that sees more than a few in the audience looking a little wistful. All in all it?s not a bad way to wave goodbye to the UK, at least until the August bank holiday that is. (5)

Alex Hambleton