Lagwagon – London Finsbury Park

By paul

Deconstruction 2002: Attack Of The Clones. Was it just us or did everyone look exactly the same? Green Movielife t-shirts and skate shorts were certainly the order of the day in London, but strangely there wasn’t a lightsaber in sight.

So, after an arduous four hour bus journey (who says we are not dedicated to the punk rock cause?) we arrived just in time to catch our buddies Fletcher open up this years festival. Little did we know we’d see sun, wind and rain (often at the same time), bottles of piss rain down on one band and a merch stall without any merch…

FLETCHER certainly were not overrawed by the occasion and justified their late inclusion on the bill. They delievered some bouncy pop-punk tunes that were gobbled up by the masses and their presence seemed to fill the stage, winning over a plethora of new fans, especially seeing as though loads of people were wandering around in their t-shirts. Best British band of the day, hands down. (7 out of 10)

FLOGGING MOLLY don’t like Roy Keane. Infact they hate the Manchester United midfielder so much they berated him throughout their set, even dedicating the song ‘Selfish Man’ to the nation’s former captain. Certainly the most diverse band on the bill, this was Flogging Molly‘s first ever UK performance and it was alright if you like that sort of thing. The likes of ‘Salty Dog’ and ‘Drunken Lullabies’ were performed with passion, but they are certainly not for everyone. They’re nothing better than a Pogues tribute band apparently… (5)

The TURBO AC’S are more riff friendly than the majority of their peers, hammering out riff after riff to a crowd unfamiliar with their work. But the likes of ‘Hypnotized’ were well received, even if the band didn’t really have the songs to sustain enough interest. Despite this they were a tight and well-worked unit and being on Nitro Records will surely only enhance their reputation. (6)

Unfortunately for us, due to a cock-up beyond our control whilst attempting to interview Lagwagon and the Mad Caddies, we missed H2O. So it would be unfair to give them a score on the bits and pieces that we heard, despite the fact that the crowd seemed to love them. (N/A)

MIDTOWN gave the first great performance of the day. Kicking off a high octane set with the intro to the legendary Guns n Roses track ‘Sweet Child O’Mine.’ The band then launch themselves into ‘Just Rock n Roll’ and ‘Become What You Hate’ with reckless abandon. Tyler and Heath have a cocky swagger about their playing, bouncing riffs off each other with ease and there is showmanship aplenty as the quartet look more than comfortable on stage. ‘Like A Movie’ suffered slightly when Tyler‘s guitar cut out, but they recovered enough to confidently blast out ‘A Faulty Foundation’ and ‘Such A Person,’ complete with strains of the Kiss classic ‘God Gave Rock And Roll To You’. Confident and assured throughout, Midtown put their label squabbles behind them to win over a few new fans. (8)

ALL gave a solid but unspectacular performance, it really does say it all when their two Descendents covers were their best tracks. Singer Chad sported a terrible haircut (was it a wig anyone?) and although the sound is good and the band tight, they are simply not as good as their former band. ‘The World’s On Heroin’ is a shining light amongst the gloomy weather. (6)

THE MOVIELIFE – Band of the day anyone? Quite simply a stunning performance, with no time to draw breath throughout their energetic 30-minutes. Vocalist Vinnie Caruana is a bundle of energy during the set and the likes of ‘Hand Grenade’, ‘Walking On Glass’ and ‘I Hope You Die Soon’ are performed powerfully. ‘This Time Next Year‘ is brilliant and guest vocals from Ian Watkins of the Lostprophets on ‘Single White Female’ give depth to an already great song. Like their label mates in Midtown, The Movielife look very assured and confident, whipping up Finsbury Park into a frenzy leaving everyone battered, bruised and smiling. And the number of t-shirts sold at the merch booths after their set was amazing. Even the sun came out… (10)

How can we put this nicely? RANDY mix everything that is popular right now (ie The Hives, The Strokes and The White Stripes) and come out with a boring and predictable concoction. There’s nothing in the bands arsenal that catches the eye or the ears, just more disposable Scandanavian punk rock without the tunes. (3)

The MAD CADDIES provided an unexpectedly laid back set, one which had a summer festival vibe to it. Beginning with ‘I’m So Alone’, Santa Barbra’s finest followed on with the likes of ‘Road Rash’, ‘Days Away‘ and ‘Monkeys’, but even the latter seemed a bit restrained. Not that the crowd gave a toss, as they skanked things up merrily. A triumphant ‘All American Badass’ rounded things up and fittingly the sun came out again. (8)

THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES were the second biggest mistake of the festival. Why a band with only one big hit should be so far up the bill is beyond me, and today TMMB are let down by a weak set. Vocalist Dicky Barrett cannot hit a note – any note – and only ‘The Impression That I Get’ saves things from being a complete disaster. But the kids love it, skanking it up to high heaven. If only they’d listen to what was being played and not go on this preconceived notion that all ska is good. Because this Boston mob certainly are not… (2)

What can we say about the LOSTPROPHETS other than they were the biggest mistake of the festival? They did get the best greeting since Daphne and Celeste walked on stage at Reading in 1999 though. As missiles rained down on the Welshmen, the band apologised for “not being punk enough” for us. They may have sold extra tickets to the nu-metal fans (many of which were girls who screamed and cried their way to the signing tent, turning it into Smash Hits 2002 for an hour) but LP didn’t win any new friends. They may be good at what they do but there is no room for nu-metal at a punk gig and their elitist and (hopefully) sarcastic comments left a lot to be desired. Sorry if we weren’t ‘open-minded’ enough for you boys. I don’t condone bottle throwing, but I guess it was to be expected. Still, at least they didn’t massacre that Saves The Day song again… (1)

Which brings us to LAGWAGON, who only headlined the event because they couldn’t get anyone else in. We didn’t think they’d be able to pull it off – how wrong could we be… The band were entertaining throughout the hour, scattering old and new songs into the mix. ‘Alien8’ and ‘Making Friends’ went down a treat and ‘Razorburn’, ‘Messengers’ and ‘Mr Coffee’ left the pit all hot and bothered. Joey Cape may be only a little chap, but the blue-haired frontman has more charisma than any other vocalist on show today. Closing with ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ and ‘Stokin The Neighbours’ was the perfect end to a pretty good days punk rock. (10)

Deconstruction 2002 certainly had it’s ups and downs, but despite the odds it was a great success. With such a varied bill there is always going to be something for everyone, but by the same token there is always going to be the odd band that don’t go down as well. If merch sales are any guide, The Movielife won over a shedload of new fans, but Lagwagon were the favourites. Roll on next year…

Paul and Mark