Old Street, London25/08/11
Cerebral Ballzy have long been the discerning hipster’s hardcore band of choice, but the buzz surrounding their recently released debut album has XOYO rammed despite an 8 o’clock stage time, opening for tour-mates Fucked Up and Off!. All sorts of punks are here for doors, from the skate kids you’d expect, insisting it was definitely advertised as an over 16s show, to the 50-somethings with green Mohawks, denim and leather, and an ongoing crush for Sid Vicious.
Musically, Ballzy won’t surprise anyone who has an even passing affinity with the noisier end of the musical spectrum circa-1982, although politicised rage has been forsaken for a terminally-teenage agenda of beer, pizza, skateboards and mindless rebellion. Dumb fun perhaps, but fun nonetheless. It’s a raw, chaotic proposition in the flesh, all clashing guitars, breakneck speed and sneering, adenoidal vocals courtesy of the brattish Honor Titus. The quintet attack their booze-sodden set with abandon; nary a song clocks in at over two minutes, and despite the rhythm section’s best efforts, complete collapse never feels too far away. It’s exhilarating stuff though, and by the time they get to ‘Insufficient Fare’ and recent single ‘Cutting Class’, the audience is on their side.
It seems almost incongruous to see Ballzy in a venue of even these relatively modest proportions, and the absence of tonight’s headliners will herald a return to their spiritual home on the toilet circuit, I’m sure. But if the hype machine does its job, they may not be there for much longer. Grab some cheap lager and see them while you can.
By John Beck
Originally published in issue 31 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. September 2011.