Japandroids playing in a Dalston basement on a 360° stage was as good as that sounds

Bad Breeding and Yowl were also on the bill

Over the last few years, Fluffer Pit Parties have been instrumental in adding excitement, unpredictability and spontaneity to the London punk scene. Holding gigs and all dayers in interesting, often secret, venues across East London and inviting some of the scene’s most exciting bands to headline, they have become one of the city’s best tastemakers/rabble rousers. A Pit Party remains the only gig rowdy enough for me to need a CT scan (shouts out Idles).

This summer Fluffer have put on their biggest parties to date, hosting names such as Deap Valley, Spring King and Black Lips. The standout booking however was Japandroids, who prior to this year were akin to a mythical being in the scene, but would now be playing in a sold out Dalston basement, something fans could barely dream of during their post-‘Celebration Rock’ hiatus.

Another twist to this year’s Pit Parties was a 360° stage. At times this addition seems like it works more in theory than in practice. During Bad Breeding’s powerful support set the sound, particularly the vocals, was dissipated due to speakers facing out in four directions. This was the case no matter where you stood in the room. There’s also almost a sense of the band at time being like zoo animals, with people wandering around and looking in rather than giving energy back and forth. Having four front of stages also meant it was harder to build a close atmosphere. The ideal scenario would be multiple pits surrounding the stage, but that level of organisation flies in the face of punk music. Organised mosh pits are like organised fun, and everyone knows organised fun is for Torys.

The sound and energy improved when Japandroids took the stage and their set-up lent itself more to the 360 set up. With one guitarist and one drummer, there was less in their sound to get lost to the room, and the sight of Brian (guitars) and David (drums) facing each other in the centre of the room is striking. “It’s got a bit of a two men enter one man leaves vibe,” David joked. The band began with ‘Near To The Wild Heart Of Life’ and ‘Fire’s Highway’, and the gang vocals that epitomise the Japandroids sound worked fantastically, with the crowd encircling the band with noise and singing back to each other across the stage.

Japandroids set encompassed their entire career. Early in their set they took more from this year’s Near To The Wild Heart Of Life, with ‘Arc of Bar’, ‘North East South West’ and No Known Drink or Drug’ getting a big singalong response. However, when the band delved into their back catalogue the basement truly came alive.

‘Wet Hair’ from 2009’s ‘Post-Nothing’ had old fans swarming to the front, and the likes of ‘Younger Us’ and ‘The Night Of Wine & Roses’ from the seminal ‘Celebration Rock’ caused a truly joyful chaos. Japandroids ended with ‘The House That Heaven Built’ which is still exactly as anthemic, beautiful and spiritual in a good crowd as it was five years ago.

Japandroids/Bad Breeding/Yowl @ Fluffer Pit Party, London, 30 August 2017