Mouthwash – Camden Barfly

By Andy


Damn hot!

There?s no other way to describe the diminutive upstairs room at Camden?s Barfly. It?s one of the first autumn nights (read: brisk) outside but it?s overly hot inside. When Mouthwash frontman Nipper Fry mentions the fact there?s a subdued groan, at least from the back. The walls may not sweat, but backs, faces and nether regions do. It?s warm, but not quite up there with the warming the band receives on what, believe it or not, is its first ever ?real? headline tour with this line-up.

If you?re old enough you might remember the South London outfit from ?1000 Dreams?, a record put out in 2001 on Hellcat Records. That was a long time ago; the lifetime of a band twice over, you might say. Tonight though it?s more of a farewell to ?True Stories?, the band?s second album, released just about two years ago. Punktastic has caught up with the band multiple times during that span but tonight feels different. This is the show that Mouthwash gets to flex that innovative and empowering muscle that has impressed continually, and all in front of a hometown audience. The stakes have been raised.

Before that though, tonight?s show also happens to absorb the somewhat silly named ?Ska Trek: Generation 2010 Tour?. It may be silly in name but it?s anything but in practice. It only takes a few notes of BROKEN NOSE to prove this. Welding together punk, ska, reggae, rap and all manner of twists and tweaks, this should be a chaotic and convoluted performance. It shouldn?t work, but, dang it, it really does. Think Skindred, King Prawn, Sonic Boom Six and you?re on the right line. With a heavy dose of originality and flare, the Bridgend sextet has the stage presence to match, although that?s more likely to be appreciated when bigger crowds come calling. But for now, as far as opening slots on a Thursday night go, this one?s right up there. [4/5]

ANTI-VIGILANTE shows signs tonight of moving out of the shadow of the skacore heavyweight, and fellow Milton Keynes alumni, Capdown, something the band needs desperately at this time. Tonight it?s when Anti-Vigilante digresses from the traditional skacore blueprint that the best impression is given. When the band steps it up and delivers heavier moments it?s hard not to be impressed, and the newer material aired suggests the band is heading in the right direction. Saying that, the crowd response the band gets from the Camden throng is as good as many hometown performers receive, so something?s definitely going right somewhere along the line. [3/5]

DIRTY REVOLUTION has been on the radar just about as much as Mouthwash this year. In support of the much-delayed debut album, ?Before the Fire?, the Cardiff quintet (an additional guitarist, Iain Smith, joins the mix on this tour) has been popping up here, there and everywhere in support of some lofty names. For the most part, Ska Trek has represented the band?s first headline tour, but tonight playing second fiddle doesn?t harm at all. In fact, this turns out to be Dirty Revolution?s finest performance to date. So much so that sore throats, stolen bass guitars and a few technical hitches cannot derail the momentum. From the off the presence of the additional guitar adds depth to the sound, generating some real assaulting moments. When the band?s trademark reggae sound is at the forefront there?s a real sense of mellow ambience juxtaposed with a flavoursome saunter. It?s top draw stuff, beginning to end. [4.5/5]

And so, in a wall of dirty, heaving, booming menace, MOUTHWASH takes a sweltering centre stage, all gnarly and aggressive, and sets to cleaving a gash into the collective aural consciousness. It?s a gash that?s delivered precisely, professionally and relentlessly. Take the gut-punch that is ?Ask And It Is Given? with it?s synth heavy doom like approach. Or the updated ?Fools Gold?, a rapid sweep of tweaked ska beats. Throw in a winking Lady Gaga breakdown, a guest from The Skints, a quintet that is so up for this, and you?ve got what is as solid a set as you?re likely to see.

Like Dirty Revolution before, Mouthwash has a knack for contrasting those big sounds with something a little less tense. ?That Girl? and ?Hazy Days? are both buoyant ska numbers that have the room up and hectically dancing, whilst ?Atlantic Rd?, spruced up for a first airing on this tour, sees guitarist Rob Tortelli take over vocal duties for a nearly acoustic serenade. It?s a toned down moment that goes a long way to expressive the eclectic nature of the band. It?s this diversity that makes the band essential.

?Ain?t gonna pay my money to hear that same old sound?, the band laments on ?The Sound?. There?s a definite nugget of truth there. Mouthwash doesn?t sound like any other band, and you realise that there is why every performance works; that is why tonight the band is faultless; and that is why Punktastic will check out Mouthwash over and over again. This definitely isn?t the same old sound, no matter how many times we see it. [5/5]