Chase Long Beach – Camden Underworld

By paul

Chase Long Beach
Friday 10 July, 2009
Underworld, Camden
Support: The Dreadnoughts + The Apostates + Detached

Sometimes, just sometimes, a gig doesn?t stand a chance. There are harbingers out there tonight. Camden High Street is chock full of people milling about, pubs overflowing with Friday night expectancy. Suits sup pints, punks drain cider, the police stoically look on as a gang of CKY teens skulk around and tourists ogle wide-eyed. It?s quite normal except for an underlying feeling of general lethargy. It?s hot today. Not as hot as it has been, but it?s that stuffy, ?can?t be arsed? type of heat that makes moving from your seat oh so more unappealing. Getting people into a hot and sweaty Underworld is going to be tricky to say the least.

Sure enough DETATCHED kicks off to single digit punters. It?s hard not to talk about that slot at the Underworld, opening when fashionable London is off pruning itself, but the fact is like so many before, the South Wales sextet plays pretty much to the melting walls. You wouldn?t know it though. Playing an aggressive if not groundbreaking brand of skacore, the young outfit manages to ooze boundless energy and deliver a buoyant half hour set. There are moments where the brass is too high in the mix, others where the vocals are too low, but overall it?s a decent foray into summertime ska. (2.5/5)

A description of THE APOSTATES as a ska band seems wrong. Not because the London trio doesn?t play ska, it does, but because there?s so much more to it. Throughout a 30 minute set there?s a more rootsy feel, with rudiments of straight-up punk, hard rock, reggae and something a little je ne sais pas. It?s like Crazy Arm in terms of being difficult to classify, although that?s not to say this sounds anything like Crazy Arm. On stage the band is as relaxed as they come, not at all flustered by the diminutive crowd (a few more bodies have made it in) and manages to lark through the set generally appearing as though fun is being had. It?s the performance of the evening and well worth future investigation. (3.5)

?We?re sorry to interrupt the ska party,? booms singer/guitarist The Fang (I kid you not) as THE DREADNOUGHTS finally overcome some gremlins and burst into a set best described as interesting. Folk-punk? Polka-punk? Celtic/gypsy-punk? Think Flogging Molly only buzzed to the eyeballs on cough syrup. Think The Real McKenzies stung by a hornet 200 times. Getting your head around this Vancouver mob hurts. It?s a rapid onslaught of frenzy featuring a mandolin, fiddle, penny-whistle and the biggest bass player you?ll ever see (seriously the behemoth looks like he should be hitting pucks and goons for the Canucks, not playing on the now dwarfed stage). Stripped down though it?s gimmick heavy and not all that outstanding. There?s a few moshing at the front (for whom the band seems truly grateful) who will disagree but ultimately it?s all a little unfathomable. (2)

You get the sense that with a smaller room and a few more revellers CHASE LONG BEACH would actually have a nice little show. Tonight though the headliner suffers most from the non-attendance and it shows. Singer Karen Roberts pleads with punters to leave the balcony and join the dance floor. It works for about three songs before people mope back to the shadows. Obviously stumped, the Cali septet plods on with a Reel Big Fish approved ska-pop sound that is just about as crisp and sunny as it comes. Really, in the right situation this would be lapped up by the ska revellers. It?s jovial, polished and truly harmless, the perfect concoction for summer nights. Tonight though the band can?t compete with a lethargic and languid Camden and well and truly takes the foot off the peddle. File this under just one of those nights. (2)

Alex Hambleton