LIVE: CKY / Puppy @ The Underworld, Camden

By James Davenport

It’s been eight years since CKY have performed in the UK, the last time at Download Festival in 2009. Tonight the band play a sold out Underworld in Camden for the first of two London dates on their UK tour.

Starting things off this evening are London locals Puppy who nonchalantly stroll onto the stage to sounds of the Nate Dogg classic ‘Regulate’. Puppy grab the attention of everyone in attendance this evening with their grungy overtones. Although on paper it sounds as though it wouldn’t or shouldn’t work, they manage to sneak stoner rock guitar riffs into a blend of pop punk and emo tracks without hesitation. Their musical mish-mash of polar opposites is delivered with such confidence that it’d almost be easy to forget that there’s still a headline band to come this evening. Referring to CKY as “wimps” whilst addressing the crowd, guitarist / singer Jock Norton stirs up the audience with his tongue in cheek comments before closing out their set to a well-deserved and delighted applause.

When a gig at The Underworld sells out it almost instantly becomes a sweatbox and tonight is no exception. With everyone packed in like sardines it’s obvious that everyone is here for one reason and that it’s been far too long since the Pennsylvania trio last visited our shores. Prior to the band taking the stage the constant chanting of the band’s name is overpowering, it’s comparable to that of the intense chanting at a football match. Met with screams and cheers of excitement, a hooded Bam Margera takes centre stage and introduces CKY who without delay burst into ‘The Human Drive In Hi-Fi’.

It’s ear to ear smiles all round for both band and crowd alike as they play through a selection of favourites such as ‘Rio Bravo’ and ‘Knee Deep’ from their debut album ‘Vol.1’, and ‘Sporadic Movement’, ‘Flesh Into Gear’ and ‘Attached At The Hip’ from ‘Infiltrate.Destroy.Rebuild’. The most noticeable difference in their performance this evening is of course the shuffle in the band’s line up with guitarist and founding member Chad Ginsburg taking over on vocal duties and drummer Jess Margera’s uncle Matt handling keyboards / synths. From the endless chanting between songs, it’s clear the switch up hasn’t deterred fans in the slightest.

CKY’s setlist only contains one track from their forthcoming album ‘The Phoenix’ and ‘Days of Self Destruction’ is met with a warm welcome. Aside from the new single, the entire set this evening is a complete nostalgia-fest as these songs undoubtedly soundtracked many of their fans younger years. The most obvious single being the infamous ’96 Quite Bitter Beings’ which Chad refers to as “a CKY song that you’ll all know”. Several notes in and the entire room is jumping up and down in waves, the screams from around the room drowning out the band (think ‘Beatlemania’). There’s a brief pause before they drift into an instrumental jam for several minutes that eventually brings them to the opening bars of ‘Escape From Hellview’ that’s met with just as much warmth and passion.

As CKY come to the end of their set the endless chanting starts up once again, their dedicated fans not letting them leave that easily. Once again the band, along with Jackass star Bam Margera, re-take the stage and ask the crowd “who knows fucking GG Allin?” With Margera taking over vocal duties, the band perform their classic cover of ‘Bite It You Scum’ before asking the crowd to pick their own favourite song to end on this evening. The choice is made and CKY once again rip into one of their earlier singles ‘Promiscuous Daughter’.

Having returned from their long hiatus sounding heavier and punchier than ever, CKY are back on top form and thank God they haven’t been forgotten or drifted into obscurity. Judging by their intense performance this evening and the electricity in the air, the road ahead for CKY stands to be a very exciting one indeed, welcome back.