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Papa Roach & Ho9909 at Brixton Academy - live review

Live Review

Venue: Brixton Academy, London

California’s nu metal survivors reach top dog status

The Last Time Hammer witnessed the fury and chaos of HO99O9’s [7] live show, it was in a dingy basement in East London where the duo’s visceral impact was akin to being shot in the brain at point-blank range. Tonight the stage is bigger but the rap-punk duo approach their set like they always do: as a confrontation. Deliberately intimidating the audience, their set begins with the sound of skin-stripping screams before vocalists TheOGM and Eaddy scream and rap themselves hoarse over nightmarish dirges, steel toe-capped punk and ruined beats that sound like they’ve been put through a meat grinder. It ends with TheOGM crouched by the speaker raking at his own face. What doesn’t work so well, though, is an apathetic reaction from the crowd. It means tonight’s set is missing Ho99o9’s usual riot-inciting fire, but the pair seem to feed off the indifferent reception. “You might be wondering how we got this slot but it’s simple,” drawls TheOGM. “Your favourite band likes us.”

Having survived the death of nu metal, PAPA ROACH [8] have consistently surpassed expectations, pushing their music in new directions and refusing to be pigeonholed as rap-metal also-rans. Latest album Crooked Teeth has seen the band give their rap-heavy roots a modern makeover and tonight the payoff is obvious; the band are greeted by one of the most enthusiastic reactions you could imagine. Vocalist Jacoby Shaddix seems to have so much energy his body can’t expel it fast enough and only a cynic with a heart of stone could fail to be moved by his infectious positivity. The hit-filled setlist gives the fans what they want, whether that’s throwing out Getting Away With Murder and Between Angels And Insects at the start of the set, or leading a lighters-in-the-air bawl-along to Scars. It’s consistently fun, although the anthemia of tracks like Help and Medication mask a genuine darkness that refers to Jacoby’s well-publicised battles with depression and alcoholism. The weightiest moment of the night comes with an emotional tribute to Chester Bennington. Illuminated by just a spotlight, the frontman sways to the piano outro of In The End before wiping his eyes dry. “Rock’n’roll saved my motherfucking life,” he declares. “Tonight let’s celebrate life.” It’s this candid honesty that makes Jacoby one of the realest, most loveable artists in our scene. Earlier this year he told Hammer that the band constantly felt like underdogs with something to prove. Judging by the love in the room as he leaps into the ecstatic crowd during the now-classic Last Resort, Papa Roach have proved themselves and then some.

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