London Notting Hill Arts Centre

[a]Union Kid[/a] are a thrilling live experience.

Twenty-first century Beatniks! We’re in a hot, sweaty and deliciously pretentious cellar packed with young, thin-fingered bourgeois decadents who are smoking feverishly, reading French paperbacks and swilling bottled Finnish lager which, we are reliably informed, is made in the world’s northernmost brewery by naked women. What a venue! And – oh joy – [I]no disco music[/I]! Very heaven! Just lots of discordant and deeply unpleasant art-wank clanging, ‘Nuggets’-style garage-punk and, to top it off, a killer slice of bipolar sociopathy by a band called Shriek Of The Mutilator. Ooh yeah!

[a]Union Kid[/a] are crammed in a corner under the stairs. Drummer, Mark Keates wears glasses, and the guitarist/singer Sean Tohey sports a baseball cap that makes him look like a twat, and he is (ugh!) [I]strumming[/I]! And for the first two minutes we’re thinking, “Ho hum, more ‘nice’ cack from from vaguely competent fuckwads.”

And then [a]Union Kid[/a] stretch, coil and strike. Like whipchord! They’re from Braintree, Essex, but sound like they’ve spent the last decade in going slowly mad in a shoebox in Ian MacKaye from Fugazi‘s closet in Washington DC. And from ‘Sodajerk’ through ‘He Is Mono’, we’re treated to a taut, tight, tense and superbly overmuscled post-hardcore punk rock’n’roll set that consists of equal parts blood, sweat and viciously stretched gristle.

The album, ‘Candy Falls Here’, doesn’t start to do them justice. [a]Union Kid[/a] are a thrilling live experience. Back in our sweaty cellar we are in pig-fuck paradise. Devotees of Coldplay – a band recently and accurately described by Alan McGee as “bedwetter music for students” – just wouldn’t get it. [a]Union Kid[/a] get it. And, when they figure out how to get it down on record, so will you.