June is a great time to catch one-off shows either from acts preparing to take on the famous Download Festival or performing shows just after, and this year was no exception. Having played Donington just a couple of days before, Ice T’s infamous metal band Body Count descended on the London KOKO to give us a taste of what Download 2018 had experienced the previous weekend. And boy were festival goers in for a treat.
First up, however, were Spanish thrashers Crisix . Despite bringing a high tempo and energy to the stage, they failed to really lift the crowd, with their take on thrash very much staying within the genre’s comfort zone and generic tropes. The musicians were extremely competent and accomplished at their art, and their cover medley (including choice cuts such as ‘Symptom of the Universe’ and ‘Hit The Lights’), where they all switched instruments, went down particularly well with the crowd, but apart from that it was hard to find anything particularly memorable about their performance.
Following up from that was a huge tonal shift as grime-rockers Astroid Boys  entered the fray. Though at times they seemed as though they weren’t quite filling out the stage like they could, they provided plenty of bombast and included a number of guests to keep up the energy. The crowd was at their liveliest when they performed their more guitar oriented tracks, which gave them a sense of nu-metal swagger, whereas the more straight-forward grime tracks didn’t really hit home with the metal audience they were playing to. Nonetheless, Astroid Boys have an interesting fusion of genres going on, and their popularity continues to rise.
Of course, the main reason anyone was here at the KOKO tonight was for Ice T and Body Count . “We made it through customs again!” Ice proclaims as they tear through their opening salvo of ‘Raining Blood/Postmortem’. Despite the at times dark nature of their lyrics, Body Count are determined to have a good time with Ice making relentless quips between songs, and bringing on his young daughter Chanel to dance along on stage with his elder son Little Ice (a full time member of the band as hype man). The setlist is largely shared between the band’s 2 most recent albums, and their classic self-titled effort, which is a shame as there is a lot of quality material on their middle era efforts Born Dead and Violent Demise, but understandable as the three albums they mostly relied on are among their most popular.
Ice muses upon matters such as racism and modern masculinity as the band tears through ‘Manslaughter’, ‘No Lives Matter’ and ‘Body Count’, tracks which progress seamlessly despite the evolution of the band’s musicianship and songwriting over the years. After closing out with perhaps their most famous (or infamous) track ‘Cop Killer’, Ice introduces the concept of the “virtual encore”, claiming that at his age (surprisingly he’s already 60) there is no way he’ll return to the stage after walking off once. After they dim the lights and “go off stage”, the lights come on and they burst straight into their hilarious cover of the Suicidal Tendencies great ‘Institutionalized’, before rounding out the night with ‘Momma’s Gotta Die Tonight’ and ‘This Is Why We Ride’.
This setlist provided a great summary of Body Count’s best material, even if it primarily relied on their three most notable albums. It would have been great if they could have brought out some rare cuts from their back catalogue but the show tonight would have suited both the most ardent Body Count fan and those new to the group who were interested in seeing how a crossover thrash band fronted by Ice T would sound.