Propagandhi – London Koko

By Tom Aylott

KoKo- November 30th 2009

The last few times Propagandhi have ventured over to the UK, the choice of supports has been a little bit on the perplexing side, this winter?s venture is no different, kicking off in Camden?s KoKo, which I?d have down as a very ?un-Propagandhi? venue, but no-one is complaining about much except the bar tax.

Strike Anywhere kick the show off with a set full of perfect examples of why I never really got this band where many of the over-excited shorts-sporting twenty somethings here do. Recent effort Iron Front has re-ignited a desire to catch Strike Anywhere live that I haven?t had for the good part of five years, but disappointingly, the handful of great moments are framed by fairly routine punk shoutalongs that, admittedly, I feel like the minority in growing tired of quickly. I?d never go as far as to call the band predictable or anything less than great live, but in the high ceilinged KoKo, it feels a bit stale and I?d much rather watch a band that mixes things up a bit. (2.5)

Next up are Protest the Hero, who seem a world away from the Richmond punks on before them, and the faces at the front of KoKo have switched around a fair bit in the changeover. While the fair few dashing for the ?interestingly? priced bars at this point are matched by an equal number taking their place, Protest the Hero?s sort of math/metal/emo get?s into full swing. The band aren?t my choice of listening at home by any means, but it?s hard not to be captivated by the display of technical musicianship throughout their set. Their unique ability to transfix from the stage is much, much more interesting and entertaining than I?d expected and they deserve credit where it?s due for being so good at what they do. (3.5)

Propagandhi?s latest record, Supporting Caste, seemed to affirm for some that the band they used to love aren?t the same anymore, and for others that the band has turned into one of the most accomplished and interesting punk bands on the planet. I?m in the latter camp, so tonight?s ?new stuff? heavy set is exactly what I wanted to hear. I?m going to avoid going into how the band?s supposed ethos doesn?t really match up with the venue?s or how I?d have liked to hear x and y instead of z, because it?s redundant, but the band are on top form tonight and completely own the stage. From staple inclusions like Back to the Motor League, new favourite Dear Coach?s Corner and anticipated classics like I Was A Pre-Teen McCarthyist, Propagandhi have a a huge portion of the crowd eating out of their hand for the entire set, save a few leftover math-metal kids that need a bit more to chew on and some sourpuss punks who just don?t get what happened.

Tom Aylott