The Interrupters // The Skints // The Bar Stool Preachers // Live Review // The O2 Academy Brixton // London
Brixton O2 Academy on a Saturday night is no stranger to a good time gander at what delicacies the music scene currently has to offer. Whether rock, metal, pop or synthetically fuelled orchestral extravaganzas, the venue has seen it all. But tonight, it’s ska punk-rock that takes to the stands.
The Interrupters, in their twelfth year as California’s leading ska punk standouts, come to London on the penultimate last night of their seven-date ‘across the pond’ tour alongside UK natives The Skints and The Bar Stool Preachers. A month earlier they’d released their fourth studio album, ‘In The Wild’, which garnished favourable reviews whilst providing their sizeable fan base with added excitement for the upcoming dates. With the unchangeable lineup of Aimee Interrupter, Kevin Bivona, Justin Bivona and Jesse Bivona hitting the road, the night seemed to be a guaranteed rocksteady rollercoaster ride of fun.
Arriving bang on the 7.30 pm marker as the lights went down in anticipation for The Bar Stool PreachersI could see the Academy had already filled for the most part. Throngs of checkered shirts and denim jackets clumped around the bars as a simmering atmosphere soaked up the air. It was a fairly mixed crowd, with Chelsea haircuts amongst more modern takes on a style which so well defined that prominent subculture back in the late 1970s. Everyone had a similar look of ‘amongst friends’ jubilation sprawled across their done-up faces, with the murmur of favourite song cross examination rife.
And so, without a second left to be anything but on time, The Bar Stool Preachers took to the stage. Right from the start, they’re on the point combination of high energy onstage bustle and smooth-riding melodies is a hit. Frontman Tom McFaull is exemplary in his audience conduction, scooping them up in his hands with each introduction before taking them through every song with style. ‘When This World Ends’ features as a highlight moment with a crowd sing-a-long that vocalises powerful lyrics relevant to today’s societal issues.
Showcasing the joys of cordless guitars, The Bar Stool Preachers continue their set with ’Choose My Friends’, ‘Bar Stool Preacher’ and ‘Trickledown’. As a group, they are individual in their procurement of a strong image and jutting topic coverage whilst keeping the party going. They finish up to a raging audience response that sets the bar high and the evening’s mood higher.
The main support act of the night, The Skints, follow on tremendously. Marcia Richards is the charismatic torch bearer, angling herself around the stage on the keyboard, saxophone, melodica, flute and guitar whilst also somehow having the time to provide dreamy vocals and added tones from a sampler. As a band that draws upon many genre influences that range from reggae to dancehall, The Skints provide their audience with a showcase of varying talents that come to head through catchy riffs and heart-thumping beats.
‘Tazer Beam’, ‘Lay You Down’, ‘Restless’ and fan favourite ‘Learning To Swim’ strike a wondrously heartfelt chord with the audience who rock and cheer their way through The Skints’ set.
A brief interlude is then welcomed by the avid lager drinkers in need of a refill before the lights go down for the last time tonight. The tension hustles forward, edging closer to the stage and that mountain top promise of a memorable night.
With boundless energy, the band race onto the stage in full force action mode. Aimee Interrupter has been a longtime favourite vocalist of mine and though they say never meet your heroes, from that first melody linesung in ‘Take Back the Power’, I knew this would not be a disappointing experience.
The Interrupters are as much themselves as any chart topping band could be, throwing themselves around the stage with more gusto in each step than the last. They continue to sweep through their catalogue of gorgeously received numbers such as ‘Title Holder’, ‘On A Turntable’ and ‘Let ‘em Go’. From their latest album, ‘Raised By Wolves’ is a particular poignant moment within the set; a well received song on both album and live performance.
The on-stage rampage continues with Aimee and the boys making fantastic use of the low level platforms dotted across the front of the stage. Through ‘In The Mirror’, ‘Got Each Other’, ‘By My Side’ and ‘Jailbird’, every stage pocket that wouldn’t have previously been thought of is now in full use by Justin and Kevin who wield their punk stained instruments with sweat and passionate vivacity.
Their popular Billie Eilish ‘bad guy’ cover then causes another stir amongst the friendly pit at the foot of the stage. Throughout the night it has been prominent, but now I know there’s nothing quite like a ska punk mosh pit. Free-loving mixed with the slight, unintended belligerence. It’s the perfect combination.
The encore hits that sweet spot we all need at the end of the night with The Skints joining them onstage for new song ‘Love Never Dies’ before Rhoda Dakar from acclaimed The Bodysnatchers joins them onstage for ‘As We Live’ and ‘Let’s Do Rock Steady’. The final throw comes unsurprisingly in the form of ‘She’s Kerosene’.
With a ticker tape finish, the crowd goes absolutely bananas. Aimee Interrupter grins from cheek to cheek, addressing her congregation with a genuine gratitude for their support, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, we love you! This is a night we will never forget!”
The Interrupters are everything the music world needs right now. They are fun, vibrant, truthful and untampered musical mayhem; never faltering from their professionally or perfectionism. What a way for anyone to spend their Saturday night in the big smoke. As they continue on their road promoting the In The Wild, The Interrupters I’m sure will see their flock of loyal devote’s only grow and multiply to new found heights of notability. It’s no wonder when dropping their name I have heard nothing but respect. An exciting road lies ahead for the quartet and one that will hopefully see them return to the UK. And so, into another welcomed decade of The Interrupters we go!