The Skints – Camden Underworld

By Tom Aylott

On Saturday 5 March 2011, Anti-Vigilante drummer Oli Smith passed away following a battle with abdominal cancer. Tonight’s show has been arranged as both a memorial and a fundraiser. With all proceeds going directly to Milton Keynes’ Willen Hospice, an organisation that assisted Smith and his family over those final months, there’s a compassionate feel to the night, but also a real family-like mood. Offering support, as well as celebrating his life, is some of the bands closest to Smith and his family.

Anti-Vigilante tour-buddies BROKEN NOSE offer the first memorial of the evening in the form of a rousing, ear-crushing assault of hybrid ska-punk. Punktastic is a big fan of the Bridgend outfit’s blend of genre-pillaging (think a vulgar mash-up of reggae, hip-hop, punk, and metal), and whilst the band is certainly not the finished article yet, there’s certainly a case of diamond-in-the-rough here. A thumping good start to this punk-rock wake.

Jumping on board late in the day doesn’t hinder THE KING BLUES who haven’t played a London venue this size in bloody ages. The sextet may only get to bash-out five tunes or so but it’s enough to lend itself to more than a few nostalgic thoughts. No security barriers, no setlist, no restrictions, just good ol’ King Blues rabble-rousing. It’s the live setting that the band was made for, and tonight doesn’t disappoint.

THE JB CONSPIRACY are the official ‘secret guests’ on the bill, due to having headlined the venue only days before. The Guilford band includes some of the finest musicians in the country, but that next album can’t get here soon enough. Tonight, as with more than a few others over the past year or so, the band is most exciting when airing new material. But then that’s to be expected; ‘This Machine’ was released in 2007. That’s far too long to be touring an album.

ANTI-VIGILANTE, tonight’s unofficial headliner, return to the live punk-rock merry-go-round with a performance that, as clichéd as it sounds, would have made Oli Smith proud. The Milton Keynes band has been improving these past few years, to the extent that Punktastic no longer feels the need to throw in comparisons to a certain other MK band. Tonight’s set is testament to their resolve; during troubled times the band has gutted it out, and now look set to carry on the march upwards.

THE SKINTS close out the night with a joyous performance that has the crowd dancing, the room sweating, and every single face smiling. New material from the upcoming ‘pledge’ album sounds astonishing and with only mastering really left to do we hope it emerges sooner rather than later. Tonight’s set is a little truncated, thanks to trying to fit so many bands into such a small timeframe, but less is more in this case. Marcia Richards continues to increase her instrument collection, adding an acoustic guitar to every other instrument she plays. The triple-threat vocals are as outstanding as ever, merging harmonies, soulfulness, and spite into one adept recital. Ultimately, this is a fine finish to an evening that perfectly honoured the memory of one Oli Smith.


If you’d like more information on Willen Hospice you can check their website here: