American Head Charge – The Underworld

June 17th 2014 – The Underworld, Camden

Review by: Cat A, Interruption Klaxons by: Suzi H

AKA Cat and Suzi’s Headcharge Adventures

Be seated for  Aunty Shini wants to tell you a story. This particular story began when an email landed in my inbox probably around the start of September 2013 advertising the American Head Charge tour that November.  Interest piqued having loved them ‘back in the day’ I headed down nervously to interview them, and review the show on my  first ever Wyrd Ways live assignment.

Roll forward a mere seven months and it becomes obvious just what flavour of monster has been created.  My love of the band was reignited to epic proportions – membership of the American Head Charge Death Squad swiftly followed,and then there was the Indiegogo campaign to bond the reformed group of utter headcases who spent two months spreading the news and raising the funds.  I might have contributed heavily to that campaign and acquired myself some goodies, including a VIP live experience that gave access to soundchecks and hanging out with the band then watching the set from the side of the stage. In Camden. The day before Suzi ‘Elfie’ H- the Not Evil half of the  Terror Twins‘ – birthday.

**INTERRUPTION KLAXON** Sorry, Not Evil Twin here – Last November when my Evil other half was getting very excited about this band called American Head Charge playing I had to go and look them up on Youtube because I couldn’t recall knowing anything about them. Of course I did know something – like all young moshers of my age I’d listened to The War of Art more than once back in the dawn of the Millennium.  Anyway, I saw them on their November tour last year, decided they were the best thing in heavy Industrial since sliced bread and when Cat asked if I wnated to see them for my birthday… well I wasn’t going to say “No” now was I?

Needless to say, we were GOING to the show, because we couldn’t afford to go to Download.

Now we, the Terror Twins, have a rule when we go to a show we’re reviewing – we don’t drink til the end (ok maybe *one*) and we’ve made notes, and by that time we’ve normally been up for 20 hours and are desperate for bed, not partying. So should you see us ordering a second round at the bar, it means that we are well and truly off duty, and the World’s End is just next door to the Underworld so it would have been rude not to…

AHC rehearsal show
AHC at their VVIP rehearsal gig left to right Karma Cheema, Justin Fowler, Chris Emery, Chad Hanks, Ted Hallows. Double Bonus Points if you can spot Cameron Heacock.

Before the Birthday Shenanigans adventure however, I ventured alone to Birmingham for a very special show indeed; the VVIP rehearsal show before Download.  In a ridiculously tiny club with a tin roof called Asylum were 20 spectators and it was an incredibly informal affair that involved pizza, Cameron Heacock burning dollars, being fed something I think was vodka by Chad Hanks and  receiving a merch bundle at least four times as big as expected.  So many hugs, so much dancing, Skype calls with the two “officers” of the Death Squad in the States and Netherlands respectively… It’s not often that you get the chance to be in such an intimate setting and it’s an experience that will probably never come along again.

I think this explains just how much of a fangirl I am for American Head Charge.

Back to London.  Then there was the nine… yes nine,  hours of travelling just to end up in the correct city.  This included the slight detour to reunite the Terror Twins for “shenanigans”.  Sadly because I was cashing in my VIP live experience, we didn’t end up paying as much attention to the support acts as we normally would.  Apologies Reverted guys, I was kidnapped by Headcharge.  Hope you understand.

Camden Underworld is a venue of legend, at least from where the northern half of the night’s reporting team comes from. Unfortunately though, due to the 9 hours of public transport hell we missed the sound check, but we did manage to end up in the dressing room, where I completed my Pokemon-esque mission to “catch ’em all” that had become all consuming since the rehearsal show.

signed shoot EP
Ta Da! Mission Complete!

The VIP experience involved being able to hang out with the band before the show; in our case Christopher Emery, Justin Fowler and Ted Hallows.  Which is why we missed half the show but for being able to see their reaction to the promotional cover of Loyalty that we were a part of making was worth it.

**INTERRUPTION KLAXON** That is still THE MOST embarrassing thing I’ve ever posted on the Internet. EVER. Justin said I was a nice singer though – The Terror Twins people, we do reviews, presenting and bad karaoke to bands we really like. As a ‘tribute’.  I’m not sure they think that word means what we think it means….

Anyway, we were there to see a show, and finally ended up inside around two thirds into Kill Devil Hill’s set. Formed from members who have previously played in big hitting bands; Pantera, Type O Negative, Pissing Razors to name a couple from the resumes, these guys are professionals with a truly impressive stage presence and the skills to match. The presence of Rex Brown on bass stole the show, (I was WAY MORE EXCITED By Jonny Kellie. But I love Type O with a fiery passion- Suzi H)  and they couldn’t have hit the mark any more than they did by exiting with a blistering finale of Mouth for War. What I saw of them, despite not really having listened to them before, had me dancing and banging my head. I thoroughly recommend if you get the chance to see one of their shows that you take it opportunity.

American Head Charge used to be known for their stage stunts and special effects, but that was 13 years ago, and the men who launch into the opening song from their breakthrough album The War of Art are older and wiser, and have no need to resort to gimmicky tactics. From our vantage point at the side of the stage it was clear that the crowd were loving it.  It was the first time since 2006 that a complete lineup was present on UK soil – Justin Fowler missed the Shoot tour due to personal reasons – and if they were good last time they were here, this performance was nothing short of brilliance. Call me biased all you want, but all of the favourites were there: Cameron Heacock’s vocals were spot on, and the guitars were tight.  Ted Hallows has slotted into the lineup wonderfully, and shows that he is loving every minute.

Seamless, Writhe, Sugars of Someday, Loyalty, Ridicule, To Be Me… all the great tunes saw play, but as ever the second that the opening notes of Just So You Know were played all hell broke loose.  It’s the first time I’ve been on a stage with the entire room singing along, and it gave me goosebumps.

In all honesty they could have done with a larger stage, because with all the kit present Justin spent half his time operating a laptop through a barrier fence, and the side of stage viewing could have been a little more organised, but it was honestly one of the most exhilarating shows I’ve been to.  All the VIP stuff just added to the experience, and it was great to meet up with people who I’d only spoken to on the internet during the Indiegogo campaign.

So now, it’s a show in Chicago before going into a “cabin in the woods” to nail the album that we’ve been waiting nearly 10 years for.  They’ll be back over here in October with Soil and (hed)PE and The Terror Twins  know full well where we’ll be – front and centre!

Rating: Do we only go up to 5? *****/5

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