Live Review & Photos: Touché Amore, Self Defence Family and Dad Punchers – The Underworld, London – 11/12/2013

View on Flickr. Photos by Heather Fitsell

With a name like Dad Punchers, I was expecting something a little heavier than the Weezer-inspired emo’s who opened up tonight’s set. Wonderfully funny and awkward, vocalist (and Touché Amore drummer) Elliot Babin sounds exactly like Kermit the Frog, which makes song introductions to songs about, “accidentally falling in love with your flatmate and having to hear them have sex all the time” seem extra strange. Describing themselves as fairly accurately as “bummer-punk”, Dad Punchers are the kind of band the supposed “emo-revival” will have a field day over. While they didn’t entirely win over the audience, I enjoyed them a lot. (5/5)

View on Flickr. Photos by Heather Fitsell

Considering the sheer amount of shows I’ve been to, I didn’t expect to admit that I have never seen anything like Self Defence Family (previously known as End of a Year). Or more specifically, I’ve never seen anything like singer Patrick Kindlon, as it’s essentially his show. A hypnotic combination of narcissism and insanity, his almost spoken-word delivery is very similar to La Dispute, as is his shambolic stumbling and drama-school student on drugs hand actions. Managing to insult and praise in a space of a few minutes, he described English fans as family (and scored rapturous applause) before informing us, that we “think Nando’s is edible, Pizza Hut is fine dining and wear our jeans really shitty.” Suffering from shot vocals on the night, his extra rough delivery contrasted perfectly with the bluesy RATM type backing music. Their chaotic live show managed to keep the audience rapt, and I’m still thinking about it two days later. Self Defence Family are the kind of band that have to be seen live to understood. (5/5)

View on Flickr. Photos by Heather Fitsell

Having almost has the show stolen from them, its lucky Touché Amore were absolutely flawless. It’s rare to see a band who play a show that’s perfect on all counts, but they completely blew me away. Awe-inspiring is normally an overused bit of hyperbole, but Touché Amore showed The Underworld how it’s done with a set that covered all the bases, connected with the crowd and was completely without fault. Blasting through 50 minutes which would seem too short for another band, but with the average Touché song being between a minute and two minutes long, they managed to cram in over 25 songs, including a fair mix of old classics, tracks from new album ‘Is Survived By’ and a few split 7” rarities to satisfy even the most ardent fan.

First track ‘Pathfinder’ sparks on en-mass sing-along that lasts for the entire duration of the set, drowning out vocalist Jeremy Bolm and creating a sense of community that’s rarely felt at shows these days. Their anthems of dispossession, introspection and loneliness clearly resonate with many and without realising it Touché Amore has put forward the best possible case for getting rid of the barrier at The Underworld permanently (it wasn’t in residence tonight and that made a huge difference). The only flaw in the night was the heavy-handed security staff preventing stage-diving, which included a tech slamming a girl in the stomach for trying to climb on the stage, though obviously that has more to do with venue politics than anything else.

Though their new songs fit in well amongst their older material, and songs like ‘To Write Content’ and ‘Just Exist’ sound even better live, the standout track was undoubtedly ‘~’ a minute and a half of pure brilliance, and the highlight of a set that was emotionally exhausting in the best possible way. (5/5)

Words by Jay Sullivan. Photos by Heather Fitsell.


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