LIVE: Dangers / Rough Hands @ The Black Heart, London

By Ashwin Bhandari

For many people, 2016 wasn’t exactly a great year. We lost a lot of beloved celebrities, Donald Trump was elected into power and our nation’s vote for Brexit means that it will be harder for international bands to tour the UK.  The volume of decent music releases however did somewhat make up for all the despair and heartbreak. Dangers’s 3rd LP ‘The Bend In The Break’ was a real game changer for the LA quartet. Bringing in elements of moody post punk alongside their visceral, balls to the wall brand of melody laden hardcore, it’s an album that gave us well needed aggressive effusion.

Holy Roar’s current pride and joy Rough Hands warm the audience up tonight. While the instrumentation sounds rather muddy over the PA, doesn’t hinder frontman Alex Dench’s abrasive and malleable vocal delivery in the slightest. Rough Hands’s ability to build up bone shattering riffs for tracks such as ‘Swim In The Blues’ and ‘Leaving My Will’ are enhanced further in a live setting, showcasing a real sense of progression and improvement over the previous material on their EP’s. Clocking in at 24 minutes, the Brighton group’s set may have been brief but still managed to blow expectations out of the water and hopefully won over some new hearts and minds with their music.

As Dangers arrive with open arms, there’s only a brief introduction from vocalist Al Jones before they launch into ‘The Great American Songbook’, followed by ‘Power Chord Blues’. The group’s relentless energy is returned with a powerhouse of mic grabs, angry finger pointing and fans huddling around the stage like an angry swarm of bees. Jones rarely spends time on stage itself as he literally bounces off the walls one moment and being carried in and out of the crowd the next. It feels like a masterclass in how to make hardcore exhilarating again, all while keeping a sense of authenticity and nuance.

Dangers pride themselves on having quite blunt song titles and concerts are no exception. Before delving into ‘Half Brother, Half Cop’ Jones explains: “We have a problem with authority and we have a problem with those who work for authorities. We’ve tried working with them, we’ve tried ACAB, and nothing is working right now, so until then we need to band together to create something that does.” Being against the ‘All Cops Are Bastards’ notion might not be the most popular opinion when it comes punk music and liberal politics, but it’s good to see Jones standing by his views and having the audience respond positively towards them.

For the more progressive tracks such as ‘My Wonder Years Never Got Cancelled’ and ‘Loose Cigarettes’, Dangers’s raw dynamics feel almost effortless and jaw droppingly cathartic. The energy in the room rarely ever ceases to dip as the band surge through a well-varied chunk of their discography, even though at times the band come across as sloppy and unpolished. Not to say that punk needs to be 100% fine-tuned but certain instrumental sections feel rushed or out of place at times. Again, the poor mix in the Black Heart isn’t exactly on their side, but for the most part Dangers kick off 2017 for us triumphantly. The stage invasion at the very end of their set is a nice little heartwarming addition to a well crafted show.