Nestled beneath The World’s End pub in the heart of Camden lies the aptly named The Underworld rock venue, Camden’s recently anointed spiritual home for all things Rock, Heavy Metal and Hardcore.
This is no mean feat for a venue situated in an area which thrives off the Grunge/Gothic scene but as the only venue willing to allow Bam Margera’s FuckFace Unstoppable tour to descend with all their glorious madness not once but twice, they’ve probably earned the right to crown themselves Masters of the Metalheads.
The venue itself is a dark, gritty and sprawling beast. As you descend into The Underworld a sense of leaving the outside world much further away than the 20 foot or so that the staircase actually is becomes palpable and it’s entirely up to you whether or not to embrace this cloying, sweaty mass for the filthily stark and gritty monster that it is.
Having not attended a proper rock concert since I was sneaking into them aged 16, let alone on a solo operation, I was slightly apprehensive at what to expect, although that ebbed away after my first pint of snakebite was downed to the rousing cheer of a group of lads I befriended in the queue on the way inside. When in Rome, ladies and gentlemen, when in Rome.
With thirty minutes before the first act to perform and a proper reconnaissance mission of the main area fully scoured I headed backstage to find Bam’s tour manager and attempt to arrange an interview. Predictably, he was rushed but said at the end of the night I’d be able to ask them both a few questions, time permitting.
So I ended up hanging out with a young American who was filming a documentary of Bam Margera and had been accompanying him around New York, Finland, Iceland and mainland Europe. I asked him if there were any spectacularly horrific stories from the tour, but he seemed slightly edgy at these questions and unsure as to whether he was allowed to give away such information so I backed off. He assured me most nights ‘some pretty crazy shit goes down, just wait man’. That quote right there? That will be fulfilled, just wait.
Heading back out from the nicely lit and comfortably furnished backstage area I returned to the dark mass of the main stage area to check out the first act, Everaine. They weren’t anything special as far as I could tell, a cut and paste copy of most current screamo bands, with all the passion and artistic credibility of a teenage girl slamming a door. The lack of any visible audience participation or involvement suggested I was not alone in remaining unimpressed.
I returned to the backstage area to catch up with Generation Graveyard just before they went on as I was looking forward to seeing their act. As a die-hard fan of The Misfits and having noticed their distinctly similar get up I wanted to ask them a few questions about their sound and influences. They described themselves as ‘Mutant Drunken Roll’ which, although sounding more like a previously failed band name than an actual genre, everyone agreed typified their sound fairly accurately.
Between furious puffs on a cigarette to calm his nerves before going onstage, the lead singer Maximillian Graveyard told me they’d been running together for about four years and their biggest gig to date had been supporting The Misfits sell out tour previously this year.
As they went on, I joined the audience down in the pit to get the full experience. Although their sound is less ‘horror-rock’ inspired as their clothing would suggest, the tunes were sufficiently banging and melodic in equal parts to be some of, if not the best ‘Mutant Drunken roll’ I’ve heard all year. Definitely keep an eye on this group, I see a large future for them.
And so, with the two supporting acts done, it was time for the main event. Perched on an inflatable dingy to the accompanying song In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins, Brandon Novak was hoisted onstage by Jesse Margera and other members of the band before being flung into the audience. Then Bam Margera entered the stage to a deafening roar of cheering and broke out into a cover of Clutch’s Earth Rocker.
Bam is a master of appearances, both on screen and stage, and every movement and sound out of his mouth seemed perfectly executed and structured. For his declining years he most certainly hasn’t lost the tenacious attitude he is famed and lauded for and the entire set made for a rousing experience of stunts and surprisingly well crafted tunes.
The biggest surprise of the night, shockingly enough, was the integration of dubstep within the set halfway through, a technique I originally assumed was a gimmick they were using as way of taunting the audience, but maintained until the end of the energetic act.
After the disappointingly short stage time, roughly 30 minutes in total, I returned for the last time backstage to grab my interview with the man himself. After waiting a good forty minutes during which the stage was packed down and after we had polished off the free rider of beers and spirits it was announced that Brandon Novak had to be taken to hospital after ‘shoving a rock up his ass’.
It became clear after that that any hopes I had of getting an interview were not going to happen that particular night. True to the form which has made their career Bam’s crew seem insistent on entertaining each other with these stunts as much behind the scenes as they do live.
At least one of my prepared questions, ‘How long do you see yourself continuing to remain in this strand of entertainment for’, was in parts answered. It would seem the CKY crew will continue in the same vein they always have for as long as they possibly can, I don’t think age will be a determining factor in halting their actions any time soon.
Words by Duncan Stevens
Video and photography by Sam Stones and Sophia LA