LIVE: Authority Zero, Counterpunch @ New Cross Inn, London

By Ben Tipple

As I write this I am weary yet happy after a fantastic array of punk goodness supplied by 5 great bands last night at the New Cross Inn.

We kicked off with Red Rag Front who surprised me by no longer being an acoustic duo! They have now morphed into a catchy four-piece who provided a quality opening to the evening with songs about love, life, daughters and also some rather less favoured people.

Next to grace the stage were My Third Leg who served up a real variety of ska, punk and reggae. The constant changes of pace kept us all on our toes (especially in the beautifully titled ‘Balls Deep’) and I have to say their recorded material really doesn’t do them justice – you must see them live to truly capture their riffy/bouncy character.

Up third we had Demon Smiles who’re just back from Punk Rock Holiday in Slovenia and with their first song said goodbye to Dan (of Red Rag Front) who had been covering guitar for them at the festival. New guitarist, Jazz, brought an even faster pace to the set than usual and female vocalist, Cat, had a strong yet melodic voice that powers through to the end of every frenetic tune – notably during ‘The Future is Over’ which comes from their latest EP release, ‘Handcannon’. Also as an aside, they won my ‘band with best hair’ award for the night!

Things really started to heat up when Chicago-based Counterpunch bounded out and took the energy to a whole new level. You could tell they’ve been together for 10 years with their punchy yet professional show that would suit much bigger venues without losing any impact. The stage was literally rocking from the relentless physical and sonic bashing it was getting, and Jim is one of the most composed punk rock drummers I’ve ever seen! We were treated to some awesome new tracks from their latest album ‘Bruises’, released last week, which made the crowd go mental. Not wishing to be too trivial (again) but these guys won my ‘best beards’ award as well as my tiny punk heart!

And so to the fitting headliners, Arizona’s own Authority Zero. Having not seen them before I was wondering how they’d top Counterpunch but they really did with an all-consuming frenzy of reggae and punk crowd pleasers! There was call and refrain, bouncing tunes, human pyramids and a mesmerising frontman in Jason DeVore. By this stage I was having far too much fun to note all the minutiae but among others I really enjoyed the beautifully melodic ‘Today We Heard the News’, first single from last year’s ‘The Tipping Point’ album. If I remember rightly the band dedicated the song to the late Robin Williams, who had sadly passed the day before, bringing an even more haunting quality to the song.

Huge thanks to Be Sharp Promotions and 13 Stitches for putting on this smorgasbord of epic bands – when’s the next one?