LIVE: Alien Ant Farm / POD / Hoobastank @ KOKO, London

By Penny Bennett

The air around London’s Koko was full of nostalgia for this showing of nu-metal titans from times gone by. For those who rode the nu-metal wave back in the early noughties, this trio were right up there, all boasting impressive stand out tracks that literally everybody knew, and were played around rock nights throughout the country.

Up first, Alien Ant Farm were by the far the most impressive of the three and frontman Dryden Mitchell possessed all the energy and vigour that made them such a good live act ten years ago. Alien Ant Farm are much better live than on record and this was evident again tonight. From the start the guitarist, Terry Corso and bassist, Tye Zamora, put a lot of energy into the set jumping around stage while Mitchell oozed a cool that his previous awkward on stage persona never used to in live appearances.

Their music too is a lot different from the singles which were quite poppy but most of their sounds are quite dark. Those expecting a commercially Hollywood esque performance, akin to their old MTV videos would have been disappointed. There was a mature quality about their performance that set them apart from those that they shared a stage with.

They played a relatively short set but it included crowd favourite ‘Movies’ and the set closed to the deliciously good Michael Jackson cover of ‘Smooth Criminal’ which got the sold out crowd bouncing and singing along. It was evidence that perhaps AAF are not ready to be put to bed just quite yet.

The problem with nostalgia is that often hindsight enhances memories of the good things, like a smash hit song such as ‘Alive’ in POD’s case, but it forgets the other banal nonsense that comes with it. POD, who let’s be honest, divided opinion when they first arrived on the scene with their christian version of rock, albeit it with some catchy hooks, were an incredibly poor version of a sub-genre that rightly ran its course.

Their set sounded tired and old and musically lacked imagination or quality. Frontman Sonny Sandoval strutted round the stage like an overgrown teenager and spat out verbal interludes such as ‘I’ll see you on the streets’, a hugely pretentious comment lacking any real meaning.

The evening came to a disappointing finale when Hoobastank took to the stage. This band first became popular through a support act with Incubus and comparisons of both style and image were made. Incubus were always the much better of the two, and went on to be a huge international success. Hoobastank, much like those that took the stage before them, had disappeared from the limelight, but it wasn’t clear that this show was purely for nostalgic purposes or whether we will be graced with more releases by any of them in the near future.

To be fair to Hoobastank, they do possess an arsenal of catchy singalong tunes such as “Crawling in the dark’, ‘Running away’ and ‘The reason’ which were received well, but it was still quite difficult to see their relevance today.

This isn’t to say that the crowd at the sold out Koko didn’t love every minute, but it is hard to imagine any of these bands having much relevance in the music scene today. Some teenage memories are better left as just that.