Kerouac’s final ever show @ The Old Blue Last, London

By Tom Aylott

I don’t think anyone has been to a better funeral than this. Not only have Southampton’s Kerouac been laid to rest, but so too has the banner term for the scene they were progenitors of, “#UKSWELL”. What started as a silly in-joke on Twitter has become a hypernym for the UK’s current crop of emotional and cathartic hardcore bands, and the following it has generated have descended on East London to give the craziest send-off possible.

Having arrived too late to catch Gnarwolves and The Long Haul, “special guests” Veils arrive with a huge dose of their visceral blend of post-rock and screamo in the mould of bands like Pianos Become The Teeth and Defeater. Showcasing tracks from recent EP ‘Clarity’, it’s easy to see why the profile of this band has grown so quickly in a short space of time. Vocalist Chlo Edwards has the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand from the off, inciting a frenzied reaction more expected of bands that have been together than their two years. Expect even bigger things to come from this Cornish collective.

Since vocalist Mario “Mazz” Gambardella’s return from a period of travelling down under (which inspired the rather hilarious “#FREEMAZZ” t-shirt campaign), Pariso have really stepped up their game to the next level. Mixing the ‘cores of the metal-, grind- and hard- variety, Pariso “bring the crush” tonight in their recent vein of frankly phenomenal live showings. Tracks from 2012 full-length ‘Nothing Beyond Everything After’ sit comfortably alongside old favourites such as ‘House Of Squalor’ and ‘Lundqvist’, and the sound is quite significantly beefed up by former run,WALK! bassist (the duo play their farewell shows this summer) and OBL event organiser Matt Pickering-Copley. The floor is utter mayhem throughout, with the band inspiring a wall-of-death and a human pyramid surrounded by a circle pit (which yours truly was more than happy to be at the foundation of).

Bastions arrive on stage next. Another curveball in terms of the variety on hand tonight, the North Wales mob mix crust-punk in the vein of Trap Them and Cursed, technical riff-heavy hardcore along the lines of The Chariot and even a hefty dose of post-metal a la Cult Of Luna to devastating effect. The set features cuts from well-received LP Hospital Corners alongside a new number for an upcoming EP recorded with “Jags” Jago, formerly of The Ghost Of A Thousand. Again, the band are rapturously recieved by the audience, with ‘Augury’ sparking an en-masse stage invasion.

As Kerouac storm into ‘Heavy Hearted’ for the very last time, everyone in the room approaches something akin to pure emotional euphoria. Utter chaos ensues as the four-piece thrash through their sublime ‘Cold And Distant, Not Loving’ EP in running order, followed by select cuts from their discography, which will be made available in 12 inch wax glory later on this year by Tangled Talk Records – however, any recording cannot encapsulate how great this show is turning out to be. The band play fast, loose and ferocious hardcore, and every fierce word that leaves vocalist Thom Denson’s mouth is screamed back at him ten times louder. It’s probably not quite the best show they’ve ever played, but anyone who’s caught one of the countless gigs they’ve played over the last few years knows what a ridiculously high bar they’ve set themselves, and the momentous reception they recieve clearly leaves them overwhelmed – the band repay in spades.

The evening wasn’t without its faults; the lack of entry fee and intimate setting of the show came at the price of those who didn’t get in due to the place filling out early and adopting a “one-in, one-out” policy. Most certainly wouldn’t have minded paying a tenner to have seen this at the Underworld, for instance. However, every band tonight was at the very top of their game. Kerouac will be sorely missed, but with bands like these around, the scene remains in safe hands. A serious contender for the show of 2012, and the certain amount of “bangover” or “Kerou-ache” left on Monday is one that will stand long in memory. RIP Kerouac, RIP #UKSWELL, long live nights like these.