Big Business – Whores.: Live at Camden Underworld, London

Midweek gigs can often be underfilled and lacking any spark from the audience. No such trouble at the Camden Underworld for Big Business and Whores., where a night of punk-infused metal overcame any midweek lethargy to get the blood pumping and ear bleeding.

Despite opening to a small crowd, new local duo Noisepicker get an enthusiastic response from those that bothered to show up early. The latest project from Harry Armstrong (also the frontman for the excellent London prog weirdos The Earls of Mars), the piece play a combo of doom​, ​punk, and ​blues. Which is probably why their first EP is aptly called doom​/​punk​/​blues. Probably the most metal and crushing act on what was a very punk night, Noisepicker were a mix of heavy and primal and a great start to the night.

Belgian hardcore punk outfit Missiles of October know what they like and do it well. Their more-than-competent brand of no frills punk gets plenty of applause if little in the way crowd movement. Perhaps it was the band’s relatively static performance (especially in the light of Whores., exertions later) or general generic sound wasn’t worth expending energy on, but it seems a shame. Despite their lack of a unique selling point, Missiles of October made a lot of racket and now how to write a solid heavy punk tune.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a band with as much energy onstage as Whores.. Frontman Christian Lembach is a one man wrecking ball who looks like he’s so full of energy he could implode at any second. Whores. noisy, sludgy punk is the right mix of aggressive yet accessible, and they easily get the biggest cheers of the night up to that point. A band well worth seeing live just for the excitement of their performance even if their music isn’t to your liking for some odd reason.

It’s always brave for a band to play the majority – if not the entirety – of a new album on a tour, especially if you’re headlining and don’t visit these shores very often. The likes of Iron Maiden only just get away with it, so props to Big Business for having the balls to draw pretty much their entire set from last year’s excellent Command Your Weather (Joyful Noise). It’s a testament to how good the night was that no one begrudged them for it.

Their brand of Melvins punk meets Mastodon/Baroness is criminally underrated, but The Underworld is packed by the time they hit the stage.  There’s little fuss in the performance. The band show up, say hi, and dive straight into things, and not until the closing refrains of ‘Horses’ does Warren step away from the mic and walk amongst the crowd. But there’s more than a few moshpits despite the band eschewing their heaviest material

Drummer Coady Willis is impressive on record, but is almost herculean in the flesh. Relentless and loud, he could give Mastodon’s Brann Dailor a run for his money. Jared Warren’s skills with the bass – aside from being loud enough to rattle the foundations – makes you wonder why more bassists don’t treat it like a guitar and make it the lead instrument. Despite the vocals being lost in mix for a lot of the set – which is a shame considering the focus the new album put on Warren’s singing – the crowd was more than happy to make up the difference and join in, especially during the sombre ‘Blacker Holes’ and the upbeat fun of ‘Hands Up’.

Although they play very different styles, both Whores. and Big Business have the quality and stagecraft that deserve to fill bigger venues than the sweaty basement that is the Underworld. Check them out if you get the chance.

DAN SWINHOE