Sat 10 Oct – Papa Roach, Madina Lake, Heaven's Basement
The ancients believed that the mother pelican fed her young by piercing her breast with her bill, and feeding them on her blood. This archetype of parental self-sacrifice is often cited chez Roper, but never with greater justification than last night when I took daughter, daughter's friend, and daughter's friend's boyfriend to Brixton to see Papa Roach, helpfully described by Time Out as 'triple-platinum nu-metal titans[...playing a] bellowing brand of emotionally bruised post-grunge".
We missed the first support act, and arrive in time for the second, whose name escapes me. Apart from some curious haircuts, the chief point of interest here was their desperation to ingratiate themselves with the audience. Sycophantically, Chicagoans to a man, they professed to love all things English, including football, which stretched belief. The greatest sycophancy was that, in every intro, they prostrated themselves before the headline act, promising us how good Papa Roach would be, how much they looked up to them, and so on and so forth. Is this a contractual requirement, imposed by Papa Roach on their support acts? Or a transparent attempt to improve their own reception by attaching themselves in the mind of the audience to the headline act they had come to see? An act of homage or abasement? Musically, they were loud.
After some fumbling by roadies, Papa Roach themselves took the stage. They are led by a diminutive young man, not handsome by any means, and one wonders at the psychological motives of a short man who decides to make a living yelling at crowds from a stage. They play in a genre that was empty and dated decades ago.
He flattered the audience relentlessly: "you're [expletive deleted] awesome', 'you [expletive deleted] rock' and so on ad nauseam. The music itself, is crude and derivative, and could have been made at more or less any point in the past forty years. Am I over-optimistic in expecting an art form to develop, to hope for intelligence and wit in music? For most of these fans, it is its very lack of development, its stagnation, that is its great virtue. As for the misogynistic and stereotypical lyrics, listen, if you must, to Hollywood Whore
for an example.
Throughout fans and the band would raise their fingers, in all seriousness, in the Italian sign for a cuckold, adopted by metal fans without any knowledge of its iconographical roots, yet, with the passage of time, one might hope that it would now be used with playful, ironic intent. Not a bit of it.
I knew the end must be near when the traditional drum solo allowed the rest of the band to leave the stage for a fag. To maintain my sanity, I tweeted as best I could. In a venue which nears O2's name, the very people who collect a king's ransom for my iPhone every month, you would think, bestir themselves to put in a wifi network, or at least a decent G3 signal.
Then again, I must not be curmudgeonly. Daughter, daughter's friend, and daughter's friend's boyfriend enjoyed themselves and so, too, did the rest of the audience.