Monday, 11 June 2007

Hadouken! Live At The ULU

After the short train journey from St Albans to Kings Cross and the 20 minute walk to the ULU, we arrived to see a crowd of new-rave teenagers, and what struck me was how young the crowd were. Me and my friends (aged 15) had expected to be among the youngest people there, especially considering it was at a student union. We were literally amazed by what everyone was wearing. Skinny jeans in colours usually reserved for highlighter pens, girls with blue knee-length hair extensions, boys with flat top caps balanced on hair so backcombed they looked like bird’s nests – it was insane. Just about every girl in a skirt was also wearing leggings – we thought one girl was wearing silver (silver?) leggings, but she explained to us she’d actually just spray-painted her legs silver. Everyone had their glowsticks and plastic sunglasses – which loads of people insisted on wearing the WHOLE NIGHT – and we were just about the only people without H! scrawled all over our clothes. It was mad. We arrived at seven O’clock and the queue already had about a hundred people in it and the time was about ten to eight when we finally entered the venue.

The stage was empty and there was a huge banner with the distinctive Hadouken! logo scrawled across it. There was some generic bassy rap music playing and the crowd was gradually amassing at the front. A few bald blokes with moustaches were adjusting the equipment and there were about 5 bouncers in orange polo shirts looking less than amused at the restless crowd. The guns, bitches and bling faded out; the soundcheck men cleared off, and after about 30 seconds of nothing but noisy chatter we were greeted with the slightly out-of-place ‘Close To You’, as sung by The Carpenters, blaring out the speakers. Running onto the stage was Example, a “white rapper from Fulham” possibly best known for his bootleg answerback track to Lily Allen's 'Smile' – called ‘Vile’. He urged the crowd to ‘get their glowsticks in the air’ and most of the first verse was just one huge swaying singalong, but eventually it evolved into a foot-stamping rap anthem. Somehow. I was really thrilled Example was playing; I knew he’d done some support on Hadouken!’s tour, but he wasn’t billed for the ULU gig so I thought it would just be his night off or something. I had no idea how good a live performer Example was. Heavy on sampling and audience participation, for example one song had a chorus that was made up getting the crowd to shout, “BOUNCE! BOUNCE! BOUNCE!” over the bridge to The Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint it Black’, or Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ used to describe his smoker girlfriend’s breath. We heard an exclusive preview of new single ‘I Don’t Want To’, which (if I’m honest) I can’t actually remember all that well but it was really good. He finished with a rendition of ‘You Can’t Rap’, a song which, I believe, is worthy of the title of Best Rap Song Ever To Feature An Opera Singer. Ever.

After a much-needed water-break, Does This Offend You, Yeah? Took the stage. Having heard mp3s off their MySpace, where they only have a load of cartoon pictures, I was expecting two blokes on decks or something and maybe a drummer. But what we got was a four-piece complete with guitarist and a bassist/keyboardist. And a guy on decks thrown in for good measure. After making a hugely painful horrible guitar screaming noise, the lead singer grabbed the mic and said, in the epitome of cool, “Does This O-Fuckin-Fend You, Yeah?” and they launched into their first song. I have no idea what it was, but GOD, it was crap. After that tirade was over, they were on form with the excellent Battle Royale. It was here that the sweaty pogo-ing rave saw it’s first bit of aggressive ‘mosh’ action. Mainly due to my mate Alex trying to get in front of some hench teenager who was about a foot taller than him, the crowd started literally falling over itself and pushing and swaying and suchlike. And the girls in the crowd were LOVING it. Literally. Not wanting to appear as some sort of chauvinist/sexist stereotypist, but the girls around the bit of stage I was at were violent. I was punched, scratched and squashed and the particularly sadistic ones were the girls. The weird thing was, I honestly did not feel an ounce of pain. I’m usually one of the kids with a low(er than most) pain threshold, but even when a girl in six-inch stilettos managed to scratch a deep (OK, not that deep) gash in my shin, the adrenaline rush was such that I felt literally NO PAIN. At all. Everything went crazy with their final track ‘We Are Rockstars’ which they dedicated to Headliners Hadouken!, despite one audience member’s shout that it should be dedicated to Jesus, and another one saying it should be dedicated to Joan Of Ark. People were crowdsurfing and punching and kicking and at one point this whole line of people at the front all pushed back at the same time, causing about 30 people a few rows back to land in one huge pileup. As a metaphor to help you understand sort of what it was like, here is a video for the song made by a fan for a video & media course she was doing.

Hadouken! finally came on, I was getting really overheated so I made the decision to pour a cup of water all over me. BAD IDEA. I was bloody freezing on the way home. Anyways, they opened with Bounce, which, judging by their YouTube channel, is pretty standard. The crowd were going mental & it was nice to see them also playing some new material I hadn’t heard, such as ‘Blood, Sweat and Beers’ and ‘Declaration Of War’ which was a personal favourite, as it was much more of a sing song, as opposed to a shout song. The show ended with That Boy That Girl, which neither the crowd nor the band really wanted to stop. James rapped the main verse from their rather fabulous Bloc Party Remix and the end chorus got repeated at least 3 times. It was actually a brilliant gig – go see Hadouken! now, while they’re still small. The Album drops in September, and is a must-buy. I can’t wait.


lottie said...

i was there,
i think i must have been in the same place as you cos i agreed with everything you said,
im 13 so i was one of the younger ones.
at the middle front row but got surged back
and the girls were so violent
i have scars all down my bach and bruises on my legs!
but yeah it was an amazing gig.

Anonymous said...

does anyone know wen their next gig is together?

Tom OMG said...

well recently i went to the bedford esquires and does it offend you are playing in september with we smoke fags
and hadouken are doing a seperate gig in october
i'm not sure if theyre gonna do another gig all together

oh and does it offend you are doing an all ages gig in london on the 31st july