Sonic Boom Six, Random Hand, Left Alone

Kev Eddy 31/05/2009

Ah, the Underworld. In a city that is constantly changing and renewing itself, where seminal gig venues seemingly fall before the might of railway station developments and corporate branding, the Underworld remains reassuringly scuzzy, sweaty and real. Yeah, the bar staff are rude, the security are corrupt, the beer is watery - but at least it's still fucking independent.

That spirit of independence runs through tonight's gig, the last night on Sonic Boom Six's tour promoting their new, self-released album, City of Thieves. But we'll get to them in a minute. Late buses and a pint in a beer garden precludes us from seeing openers The Skints, but Californians Left Alone kick off as we enter. Boy, do they wear their influences on their studded sleeves: if you're a fan of Rancid and Sublime, you'll love these boys, as they combine the former's energy with the latter's sunny two-tone aesthetic to bring a touch of sunshine and a shitload of hardcore to London.

Main supports Random Hand are something else entirely, however. Hailing from Sheffield, they're possibly the best UK punk band i've seen in the last few years. Combining a wicked sense of humour and quirkiness with a thoroughly British viewpoint that echoes Lightyear and Snuff. You really must see this band.

It's the five members of Sonic Boom Six that everyone's here to see tonight, though - and they're good, in fact they are really, really good. SB6 have always felt to me like a band that never really fulfilled the potential of their early gigs. Aside from an electric night in the Camden Barfly about five years ago, every time I've seen them they've never really gelled: the dub sections never seemed chilled enough while the punk sections never seemed loud and angry enough.

Well, Barney and Laila's mob have certainly got the balance right tonight: playing a set that, at first, is largely composed of material from the new album, the guitars are crunchy, the bass is thunderous and the interplay between the three vocalists is bang on. Eschewing an encore - of course - to finish with an epic version of 'Piggy in the Middle', it finally seems like this bunch of ragamuffins have finally got the rhythm perfect, and that this year might, finally, be their year.