A, Instruction

James Glazebrook 11/05/2005

Tom Capone must be wondering what he has done to earn this waking nightmare. Once the guitarist in seminal hardcore band Quicksand, ten years later he finds himself grinding his axe with the punk-by-numbers Instruction. To make matters worse, his new group have been consigned to support band purgatory, having spent the last three years warming up teenybopper crowds for the likes of Linkin Park, and until recently having to max out their own credit cards to pay for the privilege.

Although Capone is the musical linchpin of the group, who sound (surprise surprise) like Quicksand, only heavier and grungier, Instruction is vocalist Arty Shepherd's show. He is the New Yorkers' ticket to the big time. Offstage he provides press-friendly sound bites slagging off the very bands he's supporting; onstage he is a whirlwind of energy, screaming his heart out, launching himself across the stage and attempting to surf the three-deep crowd.

Instruction aren't 'Great', despite having a song named just that, but Shepherd is entertaining to watch- until he attempts to out-hardcore the competition in the preaching stakes. Introducing 'Your Punk Sucks'- a crunchy Foo Fighters-style thrash out apparently 'inspired' by Good Charlotte- Arty insists that it 'means more now than ever'. The irony obviously escapes him when, in the same breath, he introduces the 'mighty' A, a band who would give their drummer's right arm to be Good Charlotte.

There isn't much to say about A, except that their punk really sucks. They have been treading water ever since their 1998 debut 'How Ace Are Buildings', only keeping their heads above water because of Britain's overwhelming desire to reclaim metal back from the Yanks. Tonight they are making a big deal of playing the vast Basement, despite having sold just enough tickets to fill the 300-capacity Global Bar upstairs.

What little crowd there is lap up A's brand of dumb nu-metal, but given that their average age must be around 14, they are probably just glad to be out past bedtime- half an hour earlier they were applauding the soundcheck. The pop-punk pretenders play like the amateurs they are, with faux-American vocals, horrible harmonies and keyboards so far down in the mix they prove nothing more than a gimmick. It remains to be seen whether A will have more success following their idols Green Day and Blink 182 down the 'serious' route (with forthcoming album 'Teen Dance Ordinance'), but tonight it looks like the party is over.