Search The Line of Best Fit
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Slaves - Dalston Victoria, London 20/11/14

26 November 2014, 13:30 | Written by Dannii Leivers

Tonight marks the end of a November UK tour for punk duo Slaves which has seen them play most dates with a rejuvenated Jamie T. But the broad crowd - encompassing old gun punks, metal heads and bearded hipsters - crammed into this scrappy boozer with its peeling walls, are here for Slaves alone.

A real momentum is building around drummer and singer Isaac Holman and guitarist Laurie Vincent; you can hear it in the roar as the pair take to the stage and see it in the rabid eruption of the crowd as their deeply British, vicious racket comes to life. The band are immaculately turned out, brogued and crisp shirted, yet Holman and Vincent’s intense and feral bare-bones punk is shot through with This Is England attitude.

The disguise is stage one of their sonic assault. Isaac drums standing up, jerking like a wind-up doll, smashing his kit with uncontrollable fury as vitriolic abandon pours from his mouth, while Laurie swaggers out filthy and distorted riff after earworm riff. It’s a snotty sound that taps into early Joy Division, The Damned and more recently, rock miserabilists Drenge, but every Slaves song is laden with shout-along hooks and comical, exceptionally observed lyrics.

Holman and Vincent have talked about their early, shy shows and how constant technical issues forced them to banter with the crowd to fill the awkward gaps while the problems were fixed. The Slaves in front of us tonight are unrecognisable from those days, a savage product of innumerable fuck-ups.

Holman introduces songs with caustically witty stories, delivered in a bored drawl. “This one’s called “Cheer Up London””, he deadpans, introducing another new song about depressed people on the Underground. It goes: “Adding another 0 to your paycheck, have you finished digging your grave yet?” Later “Where’s Your Car Debbie?” is preceded by a completely silly tale about the nervous search for a car and the imminent threat of a Sasquatch lurking in St Albans. The primordial punch of “White Knuckle Ride”, one of their best songs, juxtaposes fuzzy and itchy guitars against the line: “I love you more when you’re angry with me, cos you’re so boring when you’re nice”, and new track “The Hunter” was only unveiled three days ago, but everyone here knows the words.

A final gnarly salvo of “Hey” and “Beauty Quest” eventually turns the room into a jumble of banging heads while both Holman and Vincent surf on top of the crowd. “You’re not fucking beautiful!” screams Holman, putting the world to rights on the latter, eyes popping and spit flying. “YOU’RE ALL SLAVES.” He could easily be referring to the droves of adorers beneath him, sucking up every drop of rage.

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