The Old Blue Last, London | May 4, 2016
Stevenage anarcho-punks Bad Breeding don’t look like nice boys. They look like nasty little bastards. Buzz cuts. Phlegm. Callouses. An ugly sight for ugly times. In an age where London’s homeless have doubled in the space of six years as non-domiciled millionaires hoard piggy-bank flats, the band’s zero-hour generation has been blind-eyed by a self-interested political class in which one in four MPs are landlords. When #ventyourrent is as far as we’re willing to go to redress the balance, words need to be had, and it’s in this DIY reactionary spirit that the riotous four-piece recently dropped their debut album S/T. Penned between grunt shifts on building sites, self-funded and released for free, it’s a record fuelled only by an urgency to be heard in a society that’s increasingly determined not to listen. The word is out: Bad Breeding ain’t happy.
As the band enter The Old Blue Last’s low-ceilinged upstairs, all chatter subsides with a few seditious glares from frontman Chris Dodd. After hacking, gobbing and giving off the distinct impression that someone’s about to get lamped, Bad Breeding effortlessly shrug off a technical blip to launch into the droned rubato of ‘I Strive’, Dodd setting a precedent for the evening’s entertainment with the furied proclamation: “I Strive for something better/ I strive for something new/ There’s got to be another way to end this maxing void.” Next up is ‘Remembering’, in which Ashlea Bennett’s hammered snare lays the way for guitarist Matt Toll’s frenzied squall, an insta-pit Molotov that throws perturbed onlookers into wild motion.
Bad Breeding’s raw, primitive noise is fast, foreboding and extremely loud; so loud in fact, that much of Dodd’s defiant social critique gets lost in the clamour. Even so, his message bludgeons through loud and clear. As Toll, Bennett and bassist Charlie Rose charge their way through condensed eruptions of anger and energy, Dodd prowls pit centre. Microphone-bash blood creeping down his enraged grimace, he sprays antagonistic truths into personal spaces with a vehement urgency equally reminiscent of Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra and Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson. It’s charismatic, intense, up-front, and ultimately liberating, and as Dodd turns from the crowd to watch his bandmates close on ‘Blurring Out’, his uncharacteristically static silhouette cuts a content figure. Sure, Bad Breeding have plenty to be angry about; but as one of Britain’s most exciting political acts they can take great pride in the way they’re challenging Westminster’s thoroughbred negligence.