Fucked Up, Bad Breeding, Sauna Youth – Visions Festival Pre-Party – Hangar, London, 3rd August 2018

For well over a decade now, Toronto punks Fucked Up have been world renowned as one the most energetic and active live bands in all of indie-rock music. This shouldn’t really come as too much of a surprise, their roots in DIY punk essentially requires a healthy tour schedule with memorably hyperactive live shows, but not many have managed to do it on the scale that the unlikeliest of crossover bands, Fucked Up, have managed. By their own admission, the two years its been since they last toured, in honour of their classic debut album Hidden World, is a long, long time for them to have been away, but thankfully with a bit of a re-group in this time, tonight proves as a reintroduction ahead of their latest, fifth, full length Dose Your Dreams in October.

Before the by now legendary punk band takes the stage, however, we are treated to two of London(ish)’s current best representatives of the genre, Sauna Youth and Bad Breeding. Tonight kicks off 2018’s edition of Visions Festival in the relatively new Hangar venue by London Fields, which while proves to be an excellent space for the headline act, is less forgiving for tonight’s supports. Sauna Youth themselves are also here in support of an upcoming new album, Deaths which they will launch at Redon on the 25th, and are equally making their return after a long quiet spell.

Despite being an excellent and much loved London DIY band with many great, catchy songs to their name, they struggle to get much out of tonight’s early support slot with a small crowd and sound issues a consistent and visible problem for the band. It’s a shame, as a group with such brilliant tracks as ‘Transmitters‘ or ‘The Bridge‘ usually have no issue getting a room moving, but here, unfortunately, they don’t seem to connect to the early-birds gathered on this supremely warm summer’s night.

Stevenage’s Bad Breeding fare better, largely because it’s impossible to ignore the wall of sound they create during their live shows. It’s a simple trick, but part of what makes Bad Breeding such an engaging live act is that they make sure to fill all the gaps between songs, be it with feedback or samples of speeches or both, but it’s an incredibly effective device to keep their energy up, as well as the crowd’s.

Musically, Bad Breeding cross-breed (pun intended) Hardcore punk with The Fall’s no-wave, post-punk fatalism which while on the face of it might not seem like a huge jump, but it’s rare to find a band manage to create something fresh with the genre. Tracks such as ‘Psychic Copper‘ from this year’s Abandonment E.P or their classic anthem ‘Age of Nothing‘ get the increasing crowd nicely warmed up for tonight’s main act proving their worth as one of the country’s most hyped punk bands.

And so to the night’s main event, the effortlessly brilliant Fucked Up, who within seconds of opener ‘David Comes to Life‘ have the now-full Hangar venue whipped into a frenzy. Almost all of that is to do with frontman Damian Abraham’s endless amount of charm and charisma on, but mostly off, the stage interacting with the fans, though the rest of the band look very pleased to be playing their first show in over a year. By the time of ‘Queen of Hearts’ next up, the crowd are delirious, with surely one of the biggest sing-a-longs of the entire festival taking hold of the room.

Interestingly, the band must still be appreciating their last tour playing Hidden World as it makes up the biggest chunk of tonight’s 60-minute plus set, with rarer tracks ‘Carried Out to Sea‘, ‘Manqueller Man‘ and ‘Two Snakes‘ all getting airings. Elsewhere, the band introduce brand new single ‘Raise Your Voice Joyce‘ from their upcoming fifth album, which many in the crowd are apparently very familiar with already, joining Abraham in the singing the choruses, and sounds just as promising in a live setting as the recorded version does.

Fucked Up have always been a great live band, but tonight’s set feels quite special. Perhaps it is the excitement of a new record and tour on the way – Abraham promises they’ll be back in the UK in January/February – perhaps it’s having a particularly passionate crowd at hand, who have been needing their fix for two years, it’s probably both, but there is an energy and optimism about tonight’s show that suggests their next album could well be another masterpiece from a band with at least two under their belts already. By the time of their encore, ‘The Other Shoe‘ the entire room, it seems, is dancing and singing along to one of the band’s most emotionally challenging tracks. If the gathered mass of humanity here wasn’t excited for new music from Fucked Up before, they certainly will be now.

Find out more about Visions Festival.

Photo by @bandsonfilm