Tsunami Bomb Headline UK Tour

Tsunami Bomb & Not Katies
Camden Barfly, London, UK
June 1, 2004
"This is our first UK headline tour," emphasises Agent M, lead singer of US pop-punk quartet, Tsunami Bomb, countless times throughout what is indeed the band's first top-billing appearance in London, at the Camden Barfly. It's a message relayed in an almost apologetic fashion, comparable to the mumblings of a vocalist in a still embryonic band, unsure of their material. And it really is entirely unnecessary.

TB have only previously breached British shores under the cloak of acting in support (their last visit being with compatriots the Bouncing Souls), and the crowd determinedly sets about placating any lack of self-belief. Proceeds from selling-out such an intimate venue may not even cover their plane fares, but the faith shown by the pocket of moshers falling at the feet of M's petite bouncing frame is return on investment enough, and what starts as a slightly pensive performance thrives in measure with the bands' confidence.

Even more promisingly for TB's kick-start date, there's a genuine air of 'punk' among their pogoing followers, proving the band's appeal above and beyond the limits of their apparently poppy style. Airy punk might be the ultimate introduction for kids in their ascendancy to rock fandom, but this is officially an adults-only gig, and the rule's largely adhered to it. Catchy, accessible and melodic they might be, but lacking credibility they are not. The release of the forthcoming album, 'The Definitive Act' is apparently being held back by Kung Fu due to its airplay unfriendlyness testifying to this, although it's difficult to understand.

New tracks showcased carry an extra edge and grit compared to those taken from debut 'The Ultimate Escape', but it all works to make the tunes cut even deeper. More frenetic and vocally accomplished, it is Tsunami Bomb's faithfulness to the proper punk handbook that distinguishes them from the various high-profile replicants that big labels love.

Live, guitarist Mike Griffin's shouted backing vocals are super-sized, gruffer and more over-bearing than the heavily-produced studio version, and you get the feeling this is how TB want to sound, more aligned to their launch pad EP, 'The Invasion from Within'.

Far darker and more powerful than they are ever given credit for by those uninitiated to their live sets, fleeting question marks raised by M's nervy start mostly disperse by the end of the evening.

Scuzz anthem 'Take the Reins' is naturally the most rapturously received tune of the night, but '20 Going On...', 'Headlights on a Hand Grenade' and 'No One's Looking' all work to underline the bands' pedigree.

Not the textbook pop-punk norm, then, and even support band Not Katies defy presumption. The hardcore punk five-piece from Southampton are everything that's good about not being the terrible US skate-and-chicks crew their name suggests they should be.

Endearing a small stream of hitherto ignoramuses to head cash in hand to the merch stand to grab a copy of EP 'Repeat, Repeat' as they exit stage, they even manage to integrate a stylish and well-received cover of the Lemonheads' 'Rudderless', in front of what could have proved an inappropriate crowd.

But then again, if there's any proverb that fits the bill here, it's "don't judge a book by its cover."

Writer: Tim Newbound

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