LIVE: Blacklisted / Renounced / Frame Of Mind / Dropset @ The Underworld, London

By Glen Bushell

It feels that in 2016 there are two types of hardcore band. There are hardcore bands, and then there is Blacklisted. While their earlier material may have been derivative of the late 90’s east coast sound that was popularised by American Nightmare, Horror show, Panic etc, they outgrew that and became somewhat of an enigma. The deeply personal, diary entry lyricism of vocalist George Hirsch is some of the most open and introspective that hardcore has ever seen. Add to that the less than conventional song structures, a wide-array of influences, and an inimitable live performance, they are far from your average hardcore band.

Before Blacklisted return to a London stage for the first time in six years, we have some home grown talent to warm up the tonight’s audience. Relative newcomers Dropset seem intent on making their presence felt early on with their particular brand of heavy hardcore, and are riff-driven and tight. They are followed by Frame of Mind, who try to blend a youth crew style vocal with heavier guitar sections, which unfortunately ends up sounding a bit of a mess, and sloppy by comparison to their predecessors.

It’s clear from the off that Renounced need no introduction, triggering some the crowd’s finest martial arts moves on the dance floor. They play some of the best material from their previous album, ‘The Melancholy We Ace’, and take the opportunity to showcase new tracks from their highly-anticipated forthcoming release, ‘Theories of Despair’. Where Renounced shine is the way in which they channel the “melodic metalcore” of early Poison The Well, Shai Hulud, and Skycamefalling, and find a way to put a current spin on a classic sound. It’s refreshing, exciting, and a glimpse into the future of one of the leading bands in UK hardcore right now.

The last time Blacklisted were in the UK, it seemed like they were on the brink of self-destruction. They didn’t appear to be functioning as a unit, and rumours circulated that they even unceremoniously broke up outside of Urban Outfitters in London. The Blacklisted that are stood on stage tonight appear rejuvenated and in high spirits, tearing passionately through tracks like ‘Memory Layne’ and ‘Stations’. George Hirsch embraces the audience, who scream back every word of ‘Our Apartment Is Always Empty’, and seems in a better place than he was back in 2010.

The energy that emanates from Blacklisted is virtually non-stop for the duration of their short and sharp set. Tracks such as ‘Insularized’ and ‘Riptide’ from their excellent 2015 album, ‘When People Grow, People Go’, find perfect place next to the classic ‘I Am Weighing Me Down’. It shows how they have transcended a generic hardcore sound, and between the four of them combine the fury of punk rock with a more interesting, experimental sound. Before you can blink, their set is over with no bravado or encore; Blacklisted simply came out and got the job done as they always do. Let’s just hope they don’t leave it that long before they return again.