LIVE: Apologies I Have None/Kamikaze Girls/Last Hounds/Super Lemon Days @ The Asylum, Birmingham

By Ashwin Bhandari

It’s a bitter Friday night in Birmingham, but thankfully we have two of the finest ‘always on tour’ punk bands to untap our emotions, in a season where it’s frowned upon to be unhappy.  The truth is, it’s always okay to not be okay, and given that Apologies, I Have None’s 2016 effort ‘Pharmacie’ is a reflection on mental health, tonight serves as a cathartic vessel for all the misery of 2017.

Giving opportunities for local support on tours like this should always be welcomed, and tonight we’re treated to two bands from second city.  The first is Super Lemon Days, a hazy slacker pop quartet that channel the twee synth melodies of Tigers Jaw, and the angry riffs of Superheaven. From their recordings, ‘You Will Never Be King’ and ‘REM 247’ sound cutesy and lo-fi, however, a welcomed layer of heaviness is added to their live sound, creating a blissful wall of noise that you can’t help but lose yourself to.  With well-crafted harmonies and an abundance of guitar pedals, Super Lemon Days are a breath of fresh air in the UK emo scene, and certainly worth looking out for next year.

Next up are Last Hounds, whose gritty blend of hip-hop influenced punk provides a solid change of pace. Instrumentally they are punchy and raucous, with frontman Mikey Skelcker delivering rapid-fire quips and bouncing around the floor space, though unfortunately it feels like their energy isn’t cutting it in the room this evening.

Leeds two-piece Kamikaze Girls grace us with a barrage of fuzzy pop anthems, smothered in misty blue stage lighting, rarely taking a moment to breathe. Guitarist Lucinda Livingstone and drummer Conor Dawson feed endearingly off one another, particularly with Livingstone’s blunt lyrics being so urgent and important. Whether this was the venue’s sound tech’s intention or this is their usual setup, Kamikaze Girls are also blisteringly loud, which only adds to the fury of their stage repertoire.  A solid mix of material from ‘Sad’ and ‘Seaform’ ensures that they’ve left a lasting impression, which is shown by audience members surging towards their merch table after their set.

After a brief intermission, Apologies, I Have None take to the stage, surging into crowdpleaser ‘The 26’ before smoothly transitioning into ‘Raging Through The Thick And Heavy Darkness Of A Bloodlust’. The room remains as half empty as it has been for the rest of the bands, but this doesn’t discourage the London punks from giving everything they can muster into their passionate stage prescence.

Frontman Josh Mckenzie’s deadpan crowd banter keeps the audience amused between songs.  He asks if anyone checked out their 2016 record ‘Pharmacie’, to which a man at the front tells him it received four out of five K’s in Kerrang. Mckenzie responds; “Yeah that’s great but I’m not fourteen, collect posters or listen to Creeper. Nah I’m only joking, it’s just mad how big they are now isn’t it?”

From the raw gang vocals in the choruses to Mckenzie and Simon Small’s driving riffs, amplified by shoving their guitars into their amps, Apologies seem far more pissed off and raw here, in comparison to tours where they’ve opened to crowds that are mostly unfamiliar with their material. Nine songs might not seem very long for a headline set, but the London ‘melancholic punks’ manage to pull off a visceral performance to end 2017.