Tonight sees the resurrection of three veteran bands, which appeared to have left the rock scene, but actually never went anywhere at all.
Upon first entering the great Camden venue, Koko, it’s obvious that this is going to be a special night. A sold out crowd pack pretty much every inch of the place. It’s wall to wall fans and the atmosphere is fantastic.
First up on the bill of this late 90’s reunion is Alien Ant Farm (7.5/10). This is a band that is seen by some as a one hit wonder and perhaps not to be taken too seriously. That’s sometimes the effect you get when your biggest hit is a pop cover. However underneath this veneer is a very talented and fun band that deserve the attention. They have great energy on stage and seem to still have the bounce and vibe that they had when they first hit the scene. The crowd is clapping along and really getting into the tunes, especially the old favourites such as Smooth Criminal and Movies. But some of their newer stuff also hits the mark and despite age slowly catching up with them, they have the crowd in the palm of their hand for almost the entire set.
Aside from a minor blip when singer Dryden Mitchell recalls an anecdote about a stripper who stole from him and he retaliated by stealing her phone, the set was a complete blast to witness. Whatever you think of this band, they are back and just as catchy and entertaining as ever. I’m very happy I got the chance to finally see them do what they do best.
Second on stage tonight are the mighty alternative metal band, P.O.D (8.5/10). These guys formed way back in 1992 and have been tirelessly working ever since. With many international tours all over the globe and over 12 million records sold, their hard work has definitely paid off.
Tonight is the first time I have seen them in many years and they are on a mission to not disappoint this full capacity crowd. This is reciprocated by the massive welcome they are shown right from the off as they walk on to their police radio style intro music and then burst into their set. Singer Sonny Sandoval jumps around the stage like a madman, whipping the microphone cable like he’s trying to put holes in the floor and this scene pretty much sums up the rest of the performance. The band are absolutely on fire tonight and are so entertaining and fun to watch that I almost forget I’m supposed to be taking photos of them.
I’m ashamed to admit that P.O.D had kind of slipped off my radar over the years but the master class in heavy, aggressive yet soulful music unfolding in front of me, makes me remember just how much I used to love them. It seems as though the fans agree, as they get halfway through playing Boom, Sonny jumps into the crowd and surfs around while still singing. There is a sea of hands reaching up to touch him and this makes the security staff look concerned. But everyone is respectful and just in awe of him at this moment. He makes his way back and stands on the barrier belting out the last lines of the song, and the crowd sing them back to him. After a few more excellently delivered songs, it was time for the big one. They finish their set with Alive and the place goes crazy. Crowd surfers start appearing from all sides and there’s not a face in the room that is not smiling. This band are back with a vengeance and through this, their love for their fans and their determination, they want to be back on top.
After a little while waiting for Hoobastank (8/10) to take to the stage, they receive a phenomenally warm welcome. Contrary to a lot of people’s thoughts, this band have never been away from the scene. They have been constantly working on new music and touring. This means that they are as tight as ever and put out a near flawless set. With great songs like Crawling In The Dark, Out of Control and This Is Gonna Hurt; they play a massively entertaining set of fan favourites from the past right up to the present.
Singer Doug Robb is so genuine and appreciative on the mic to the fans, that unlike some other acts, when he says they are so happy to be in the UK, you truly believe him. As the set progresses the band show their full range from heavy rock to softer, more melodic and emotional stuff. One consistency this evening is their sound. It is fantastic to listen to and very well played indeed. The deal is done when they start to play hit single The Reason, they have made a great impact. The packed out Koko has had a completely fabulous night, with no negativity at all. Long may these uplifting gigs continue…
Tonight has been brilliant to witness. It hasn’t felt like a headliner and two support acts, it’s felt more like a triple headline bill. Because all of the bands have put so much effort and love into their sets that the fans gave all they could back to them. It was truly a wonderful night to be a part of.
HoobastankKoko, Camden - 7th May 2015
Photographer: Colm Browne