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Live Review: Dance Gavin Dance, The Dangerous Summer, and Don Broco - Camden Underworld, London (05/26/11)

I’ve not seen anyone try a wall of death in the opening song of the opening set before, let alone pull it off, but Don Broco do just that. It’s mighty impressive. The stars are aligning for the boys from Bedford at the moment and not only are they surfing the wave of hype, but they’ve got the live chops to back it up big time. Watch them shuffle.

After such a start, it’s not the easiest job to come on and really impress but The Dangerous Summer have an easygoing charm that works the burgeoning crowd well enough. Truth be told, the last thing that they actually are is dangerous, rather more lovable in a ‘00s good-time pop-punk vibe and, as strange as that is right under the headliners agressively off-kilter noise, it’s not unplesant.

I considered writing this review without mentioning Dance Gavin Dance frontman Jonny Craig's well publicised troubles with addiction and fraudulent foray into the world of laptop ‘re-selling’, but after a mid-set foray into the crowd, he re-appears on stage without the hat he had previously been sporting and he is not amused. "I'm not playing another song until somebody gives me my hat back... do the right thing!" exhorts Craig before exclaiming: "What a f**cking prick!" The irony is not lost on anyone in the packed room, except Craig himself, as the boos ring out. Whether they are for Craig of the thief is unclear.

The Underworld is packed with fans here to see the first of two album shows in which the band are playing ‘Downtown Battle Mountain’ parts I & II on consecutive nights. This, the first of the two, sees the room in full voice from the very first phrase, shouting every lyric like a dementedly overpopulated chorus as ‘And I Told Them That I Invented Times New Roman’ kicks into life. They sound massive and as second song ‘It’s Safe To Say You Dig The Backseat’ reaches it’s cathartic climax, it appears that we may be witnessing one of the shows of the year. The aforementioned hat issues, however, do put a downer on proceedings and even with co-frontman Jon Mess’s attempts to placate the crowd, there remains an air of tension.

‘The Backwards Pumpkin Song’ undulates provocatively but Craig has drifted somewhat and as well as the band play, without him on song they struggle. ‘Antlion’ follows the same vein and it is not until ;Turn Off The Lights, I’m Watching Back To The Future' that things get back on track and they begin to reconnect with the crowd.

By the time that final track ‘Surprise! I’m From Cuba And Everyone Has One Brain’ brings an avalanche of crowd surfers they are firing on all cylinders again. Ultimately, though, a show that started superbly and carried the potential to be truly memorable leaves something of a bad taste as the band fail to return for an encore despite the protestations of the crowd, who file out a little deflated. This was always supposed to be a two night occasion however, so perhaps it is a little unfair to simply judge on just the one... Such potential, more than glimpsed but not quite realised; isn’t that what tortured genius is?

Nick Worpole

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