Lagwagon – O2 Islington Academy 26th June 2012

Growing up in a town called Bedford in the 90s, the four boys who would go on to create SGTMT DISCOVERED PUNK ROCK.

Okay, more accurately, the cooler-older-brother-member-of-Team-SGTMT had already discovered punk rock and, when the rest of us became of age, he shared his gift with us.

We were introduced to bands such as NoFX, Bracket, Rancid, Propagandhi, Snuff… the list goes on. We dived right in and started exploring the catalogues of record labels like Fat Wreck Chords and Epitaph, discovering a mountain of songs that distilled an hour’s worth of shouting and ultra-distorted guitar into two minute bursts of fun.

What a riot. We lapped it all up, but the band who really captured this writer’s imagination and still have it to this day were Lagwagon.

We freaking loved them. We loved frontman Joey Cape‘s painfully earnest delivery, the metal guitars, the stupid songs about coffee and beer goggles, the moral lessons (TV is bad, violence is bad, be nice to other people, drinking is fun).

So now we finally had the opportunity to see Lagwagon play live and we were worried; seeing childhood heroes after so long is fraught with danger. Years of building expectations wouldn’t be kind. And we’d probably get killed in a circle pit or wall of death. Who would break the news to our parents?

Happily, we’re still alive. And it turns out Lagwagon still put on a great show.

Eschewing the stereotypical punk rock template of messing around so much that they forget to play well, Lagwagon are ridiculously tight. I don’t want to think about how many years they have been touring these songs, but all the practice has paid off. Playing material exclusively from their first five albums (Duh, Trashed, Hoss, Double Plaidinum and Let’s Talk About Feelings) to match their recently released Putting Music In Its Place boxset, the band arm-windmill and mock rock-posture through what is effectively a greatest hits set.

After You My Friend, Violins, Messengers, Sick; they’re all fantastic, all with a harmonious edge, all so entertaining. Mr Coffee turns up at breakneck (normal) speed. Razor Burn sees the band scouring the venue for the man with the biggest beard. May 16th and Know It All see them at their most earnest. They’re having a great time; we make a mental note that when we’re the age of these chaps we want to be doing a job that’s this much fun.

It’s been a while since the Southern California five-piece have visited these shores, but Cape is genuinely grateful at a warm reception and describes what a bad mood he was in when he took to the stage, thanking the crowd for putting him “in a great mood which is hard to do. Because I’m know as an asshole“, applauding his thanks.

He is an excellent showman, skipping rope with speaker cable and engaging a crowd with self-deprecating jokes. After this show he would go on to perform his solo material at The MacBeth in Hoxton, but we saw a little of that at the Academy tonight – taking the stage to begin an encore with his solo-introduction to Alien 8. He shows his softer side by dedicating it to support act Useless ID from Tel Aviv.

Well what a relief.

There’s another favourite ticked off. But also another name on the list of bands we must see every time they’re in town. Thanks boys.

Keep an eye on Lagwagon at their site, take a look here for Useless ID who are worth investigating and if you’re in London the Academy seems to be the place to be for US punk shows with Pennywise and Me First and the Gimme Gimmies coming up. If you get the chance to see Lagwagon play, don’t miss out.