Random Hand – London Camden Underworld

By paul

Random Hand
Friday 16 October 2009
O2 Academy 2, Islington
Support: Mouthwash + Nana?s Revenge + The Ruined

It?s night two of the Rebel Alliance Recordings pre-weekend weekend, at least that?s how it feels. Last night The Skints and label bosses Sonic Boom Six graced the capital and tonight it?s the turn of two of the label?s other bastions: Random Hand and Mouthwash. I say pre-weekend because any gig that kicks out at 21:30 on a Friday evening barely touches the weekend. Thank you, O2, for such a ridiculously (and nationwide, apparently) early curfew.

Opening the show before teatime is Peterborough horror-punks, THE RUINED. If it seems the band is slightly out-of-place it?s because the quintet is actually a part of the second leg of the Three Way Dance tour (a rolling package that visits the same towns over three consecutive weeks, showcasing some very decent UK talent) but being there?s no London date for those bands, they?ve hopped onto this first leg. Well not really hopped, the band has come over kicking and screaming through a set that sounds like a more home grown version of early AFI. It?s fast, gnarly and tight as you like. The punters that have managed to beat out overtime or are starting to enjoy themselves before the band is out as well. Impressive stuff. (3.5/5)

NANA?S REVENGE probably has a trophy somewhere at home for being the tallest band on the planet. Tall guys! Stature accolades aside, the Leeds quartet plays fast, melodic punk rock with a hint of post hardcore and the occasional moment of ska thrown in there for good measure. The obvious comparison is Failsafe, although this takes a more direct approach, all hard and fast, with no synthy trickery. It?s a decent performance, one that sees a few more people make their way into the room and noticeably nodding along. Another band worth putting on your radar. (3.5)

You have to go some to see MOUTHWASH put on a poor show. Seriously, how underrated is this band? Tonight, the London quintet may have arrived just before stage time but from the off there?s a no-nonsense mentality that sees the band?s trademark brand of grimy, bass-heavy punk-reggae infiltrate every murky crevice of the room. The crowd response to the likes of ?Ask And It Is Given? (sludgy), ?That Girl? (bouncy) and ?No Fear? (sauntering), all from the frankly brilliant, ?True Stories? album, is something else. When you can get The King Blues and The Skints dancing along like incensed badgers, you?re doing something right. A reworking of ?Fool?s Gold? (from those Hellcat days) then sets about inciting the crowd even more. Top quality performance. (4)

RANDOM HAND doesn?t so much jump out of the starting blocks as leap up and bludgeon the guy in the next lane with them. As ?Roots In the Crowd? demolishes ears all around, there?s a tall, lanky fellow bounding about the stage next to singer, Robin Leitch. It appears that Josh Skint didn?t get his fix of bawling with SB6 last night, and rumours he?s looking to front a screamo band seem yet to be dispelled. It?s a good touch as the crowd is positively boisterous for the opener. It?s an unruliness that carries through the Yorkshire quartet?s set.

Made up mostly of tracks from this year?s ?Inhale/Exhale? album, tonight?s set is honed to within an inch of its life. Such has been the touring quota this year it?s hard to fault Random Hand?s live show. The crowd certainly makes the most of it. It?s knee-crunchingly packed at the front for ?I Human? and ?For Roni?, whilst ?Play Some Ska? has a fair whack of people skanking along, flinging sweat here and there. Then there?s the impressive circle pit that opens up during the debauched, ?Anthropology?. Undoubtedly, those old tracks still deserve their place.

It?s all over in the blink of an eye. ?Scum Triumphant? ends 45 minutes that have swooped by and then come the bouncers: ?Nine-thirty, sir. Time to ?op it.? Tonight may have been early doors but you can?t help but feel satisfied with this particular ensemble of bands. There?s quality written on it, top-to-bottom. (4)

Alex Hambleton