Live Review: The Dangerous Summer - Dingwalls, London 17/07/2019

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The Dangerous Summer At Dingwalls, Camden, was a punk’s paradise. Packs of punk-passionate pundits flocked for Free Throw and The Dangerous Summer alike, screaming along and loving every second!

The gig, which was later revealed to feature the famous face of James Veck-Gilodi from rock heavyweight Deaf Havana, was a punk’s paradise. Despite somehow not being sold out, the walls of their London gig were packed with excited fans, young and old. Having been upgraded from Camden Underworld, Wednesday 17th July played host to The Dangerous Summer playing at the iconic Dingwalls, and comfortably living up to some of the prestigious names that have previously graced the venue.

But first, the supports!

The first support came in the form of the upbeat and almost addictively enjoyable Misery Kids. Playing their own distinctive form of pop-punk, in the veins of the afore-mentioned Deaf Havana, each song was finely tuned to get the most out of the crowd: particularly, recent single ‘Strays’. Introduced as a song for people who don’t give a shit about you, the song was catchy, anthemic, and upbeat, quite a feat for the first of two supports to achieve in any scenario; that they managed it so rapidly into their set is a credit to their passion! The band were loving it, jumping around the stage and being the epitome of the ideal support band, getting the steadily growing crowd moving. But soon they had to end, on a ballad-like song full of electronic drums that had the whole room jumping up, almost compulsively! A tremendous set to open the night.

Next up, after a short fifteen minute wait to let the audience buy their beers and (hopefully) plug their ears, came the ferocious Free Throw. Often times, bands try to pick two supports who compliment their music and add up to form roughly the same sort of sound. Well, if Misery Kids are pop-punk, Free Throw are certainly punk-punk — and the crowd loved it! It seemed that everyone knew the words, singing (or more often than not, screaming) along. And they never let up, remarking halfway into Tail Whip, Struggle to their adoring audience: ‘let’s get fucking heavy.’ Cue some head-banging from just about everyone in the 800-capacity venue. It would have been hard not to, as if heads had been attached to an inexorable pulley, whipping spines to and fro like a pneumatic drill!

But they weren’t finished. After remarking that the ‘hangover after Trees is the worst I’ve had in my fucking life’, referring to 2000 trees in Cheltenham, the band broke into their final two tracks: ‘Better Have Burn Heal’ and ‘Two Beers In’, which seems to have galvanised the already electrified crowd and charged them full of energy, with mosh pits breaking out and everyone screaming at the top of their lungs!

Then, after another short wait, it was time.

An unassuming band, The Dangerous Summer waltzed on stage to thunderous applause. Seemingly amazed at their own reception, lead singer AJ Perdomo couldn’t stop smiling to the legions of fans who had flocked to Camden to see them, singing along to every word, old and new. Opening with recent single ‘Bring Me Back To Life’ from their recently released album ‘Mother Nature’, the band quickly launched into ‘Where I Want To Be’ before taking a breather to greet the crowd, thanking everyone for being there. After the inevitable adoringly raucous applause died down, and after another cheeky smile: “If you know the words, let’s fucking go. This song’s about my hometown. It’s called Catholic Girls.” A truly lovely song, it has even nicer lyrics, if a tad bittersweet: ‘Innocence was hard to stand by / Even with those catholic girls we loved; When they gave it up. Life goes on.’

A little more of a respectful feedback from the audience, with the song’s seeming as cathartic to sing as it is a powerful track in its own right. No break to be had though, with AJ saying that they had a lot of tracks to cram into their rather short set, and promising not to miss a one: flying through ‘Ghosts’, ‘Luna’, and ‘This Is Life’. The energy of the entire room was almost scarily visceral. There was a fevered desperation exuded by both the band and the crowd, as if genuinely needing to have this experience, to let out frustration at whatever issues plague them, big or small. None more so than in ‘Where Were You When The Sky Opened Up’, a brilliant sing along track, if a little long to type! The debut single of their latest album, it’s a tremendously fun song. More than anything, though, it’s comparatively easy to pick up lyrically, meaning that there wasn’t a single silent voice in the venue. Everyone was loving it, and so should they be with such a band gracing their ears!

Quickly, though, the band tore into the eclectic ‘Starting Over / Slow Down’, which seems to be equally good songs glued together to make one brilliant one. Judging by the audience’s reaction, it was the highlight of the set: it combined slower, more contemplative moments with obligatory and much appreciated head-banging ecstasy, resulting in a personal highlight of the show.

Then, a song that received one of the scant introductions offered over the night: ‘this song is what it feels like to be in a band — extreme highs and extreme lows. This is our prison. This song is called Colour’. Although being in a rock band and touring the world might seem like a dream to most, the words were delivered in such a way as to attempt to exude some of the weight bearing down on the band, but all of it disappears the moment the band resume playing.

Another brief break to get some breath back resulted in another exciting confession to the rapt ranks of fans: revealed to us (and therefore the world) that night was that, since it’s been a decade since their sophomore and fav favourite album, ‘Reach For The Sun’, the band will be hitting the road again soon to play an anniversary tour, before quickly breaking into ‘Northern Lights’. Then came a more respectful moment. Before breaking into fav-favourite ‘The Permanent Rain’, Perdomo took the time to dedicate the song to a best friend who sadly is no longer with us, which earned a series of cheers in his memory.

To say that fans knew every word to all of their songs would fail to give ‘The Permanent Rain’ justice. The sheer volume of noise reflected back at the band from the excited crowd screaming back at them was a vision of crowd wrangling done right, keeping them all in the presumably sweaty palms of the band, slowly escalating until exploding in joy at the brilliance of the track.

‘Last’ up, because obviously the band wouldn’t ever have planned an encore, was ‘Never Feel Alone’, which was the perfect song for such a loving fan-base. Particularly fun was the single crowd surfer, passed slowly left-to-right across the throngs of people and loving every second!

Then they were finished. Until, after the obligatory cheering, they weren’t!

First up comes ‘Way Down’, a particularly aggressive track, yet one slow enough to be perfectly rendered for coherency: ideal for an encore. Not a single voice wasn’t half-ruptured by the end, not one head remained unbanged. But that meant there was just one song left!

And that song came in the form of ‘Infinite’, which was played semi-acoustically in the crowd, with JP mobbed by enthusiastic fans and loftily held cameras to capture every second. A slow builder, the track initially seems an odd choice for the final one, typically set to blast fans over the end. And then it erupts.

Everyone was jumping, with Perdomo an often invisible figure swallowed by the swarms of his admirers, and it became a rousingly loud and powerful way to end their loud and powerful set! A brilliant night, and a band who should be much bigger than they are.

Words by James O’ Sullivan
Photography by Alice Sutton