Like them or loath them, Crazy Town are well and truly back. After a series of aborted reunions and Shifty Shellshock’s well publicised drug problems, they finally released their third album, the rap oriented The Brimstone Sluggers, in August this year and have been touring relentlessly since. Last week they stopped off at The Borderline in London in order to play a special hip-hop set – gone were the live band and instead the stage was set for Shifty, Epic Mazur and backing DJ R1CKONE to provide the music.
Before all that, though, we had openers Death Koolaid [5/10]. The band provided a raucous punk-rock-meets-Marilyn-Manson performance and some rather outlandish outfits, but unfortunately for them they were struck by the all too common Curse of the Opening Act: poor sound. The two guitarists struggled to be heard clearly while frontwoman Siren Sycho seemed at times to struggle with her voice, as noticeable cracking could be heard when she attempted the longer screams that some songs required. Nonetheless, the band was entertaining to watch and they had a good deal of crowd interaction. Their lack of available material (just a single EP out at the moment, Death Koolaid – Vol.1 which they only sold on vinyl on the night) makes it hard to judge how far this band can really go though, and with a new release supposedly on the way we should get a better indication of what we can expect from them.
Once Death Koolaid had cleared the stage, the sound guys seemed to have kicked into gear for a much cleaner and on point performance from Stereo Juggernaut [8/10] who kept things going at a rapid pace with their take on electro-punk (which they call “new dirt”). Playing to a backing track can be difficult for many bands but Stereo Juggernaut have clearly been at this for a while and went headfirst into each song. The work from the sound guys was clear as all guitars were perfectly audible and the backing vocals from bassist Dom Winchester added considerable punch to the music. Tracks such as “Defeated By the Sea” and “Fallen” stand out as real highlights from the set and, judging by large portions of the crowd, this band has earned itself quite the following in the London scene.
After a short break while the stage was emptied of everything but a set of turntables, the time had finally come for Crazy Town [6.5/10] to enter the fray, bursting into action with latest single “Come Inside”. This show was all about bringing out the rap side of Crazy Town and the duo were firing on all cylinders, powering through new songs such as “Born to Raise Hell” and “The Keys” as well as bringing out old favourites like “Lollipop Porn”, “Revolving Door”, a remixed take on Darkhorse’s “Change” and, of course, the crowd favourite “Butterfly”, which had the entire venue singing along to. Around halfway through the set they invited close friend Mike Rebel [6/10] onto the stage to perform a few of his own songs and his brief cameo was well appreciated by the crowd, almost like an intermission performance between two halves of Crazy Town’s performance. A couple of heavier tracks such as the often overlooked “Battle Cry” were featured in the second half of this set, along with a brief cover of Shifty’s collaboration with Paul Oakenfold (the 2002 summer smash “Starry Eyed Surprise”), but there was a lot of disorganisation throughout which pulls down the overall rating of the performance.
When you’ve been in the game as long as Crazy Town is, you should know your set long in advance of your show but there were many occasions at the Borderline when everyone seemed confused as to what song was going to come on next, whether it be R1CKONE playing the wrong song or the members failing to agree (at the end of the set, for example, Shifty and Epic couldn’t decide on whether to play “Revolving Door”, “Light the Way” or “Decorated” before being swayed by the crowd). I would hope that their sets with a full band are a lot more organised than this, but it was a big blow to an otherwise rather enjoyable set. They promise to come back next year with the whole crew and I guess we’ll find out then whether that’s the case.
Words by Philip Whitehead. Photo by Theresa Watson.