The big summer festivals always throw in at least one surprise, and for me Download 2012 supplied that when they announced veteran UK punk band The Anti-Nowhere League would be playing the festival on the Saturday.
Although the band have been pretty much constantly active for the last 30 years, it’s probably fair to say that it was Metallica’s cover of So What that gave the band’s profile a boost that has endured to this day, whatever the reason the Pepsi-Max stage was rammed to near capacity with a crowd that spanned generations as Animal and the band took to the stage.
And by Christ they didn’t disappoint.
If you know anything about the Anti-Nowhere League, beyond the Metallica connection, you’ll know that for all the sneering f*ck-you attitude they do have some killer tunes in their back catalogue, and in their all-too-brief early afternoon slot they treated us to all of their hits.
There is something gratifying about seeing a band that were dismissed by many as all style and no talent take to the stage and prove that yes, they can actually play and yes, the songs have stood the test of time. From the curiously appropriate (again in 2012) Streets Of London through to the soundtrack to many a post-relationship drinking session Woman, this was a demonstration of proper old-school punk, delivered with an authenticity and attitude that none of the pop-punk-pretenders (and there were many who played across the weekend) could come anywhere near.
Of course the Metallica connection meant that there was one song that most of the younger members of the audience were particularly looking forward to, and the grin on Animal’s face as he led a massive sing-along for So What was something to see.
They say that old punks never die, and this performance was proof that there is still plenty of life in the Anti-Nowhere League. They may never be that fashionable, and they may never be that famous, but they were the perfect antidote to the rock and metal circus that was going on all around them, and the polar opposite of Steel Panther who’s main stage slot clashed almost completely.
Now I’m not going to say that The Anti-Nowhere League were the band of the weekend. Given the performances that Metallica and Black Sabbath put in that would be stupid, but for me they were certainly ONE of the bands of the weekend.
“We are the League and we are mad, We are the League and the music’s bad, Fucked up noise like you’ve never known, We’ll make you wish you’d stayed at home”.
Seriously, brilliant show, go check ’em out if you get the chance.