Japan Calling: Punk Rock Festival, Underworld, 16 April 2011

While music connoisseurs and indie fans were rushing to small local stores and hot indie clubs for the Record Store Day celebrations, the mighty Underworld in the heart of Camden Town was hosting a more heartfelt event.

Japan Calling: Punk Rock Festival was a charity gig to raise money for the eastern country stricken by the devastating earthquake just over a month ago.

Everyone who regularly attends gigs in this venue knows the kind of music it hosts, so the choice of punk artists as tonight’s protagonists should come as no surprise. And it couldn’t have been any other way, knowing the unconventional spirit of Underworld.

The line-up was a noisy hell-raiser, with the exception of the acoustic and super-intimate performance by [The Vibrators‘ frontman] Knox Vibrator.

All the other acts involved played honest and rough punk rock. Sometimes it was anthemic, like the grand finale of Belgium’s The  Alleyways, while at others it was impressive and dramatic with acts like Dead Beat, or theatrical with The Fabulous Penetrators.

The full line-up included Brandy Row, Ten O’ Sevens and a subversive anti-Saturday-night playlist by DJ Oihane.

A special credit goes to DJ Goro who made everything happen. Thanks to his accurate knowledge of very alternative hard rock bands, Underworld embraced the Japanese fundraising plan with discretion, and a proudly alternative spirit.

It’s just a shame about the poor participation. Perhaps the festival wasn’t advertised enough, or the music selection wasn’t to everyone’s taste, but Record Store Day no doubt stole a fair few punters.

Underworld is not the Brixton Academy and Knox Vibrator is not Paul Weller, but this event deserved much more attention than it got.

A bunch of hardcore punk fans is much better than thousands of hipsters queuing outside shops elsewhere in London.

This was the anti-Record Store Day with a cause, and it rocked.

By Silvia Rucchin

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