Live Review: Sonic Boom Six

It’s been five years since I happened across Sonic Boom Six.  I first saw them supporting a Less Than Jake gig in 2007 and was immediately impressed by their infectiously enthusiastic stage-presence and catchy blends of ska, punk, dub and hip-hop.

An eclectic combination perhaps, but these guys know what they’re doing.  Seeing them on Thursday at The Barfly in Camden did absolutely nothing to distort my view of the energetic quintet from Manchester.

Touring to promote a forthcoming album and headlining HMV’s Next Big Thing show, the band dedicated two-thirds of their set to new material.  Introducing new songs to a crowd who don’t know the words is never an easy thing to do, but the band, fronted by Laila K and Barney Boom, take it all in their stride, confidently interacting with the crowd to get them bouncing, skanking and waving along.

The set started with brand new opener Like A Virus followed by The Road To Hell… and lively recent single release Kids of The Multiculture (the latter two available on iTunes).  As with much of their material, Multiculture carries obvious but playful socio-political messages, equally apparent on the band’s last album release City of Thieves.

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions:


 It was this album that really announced a new direction for Sonic Boom Six following its release in 2009, blending their unique mix of dub, hip-hop and anthemic punk/rock.  Branching out from an already eclectic sound, the band brought out new and more experimental dub-infused tracks with Bang Bang Bang Bang and the spoof-horror Strange Transformations both of which translated seamlessly into the live set.

Bang Bang Bang Bang:

The Boom are more than used to playing to the small venues.  Since their conception in 2002 they have fronted several tours in the UK and Europe, but are no strangers to the big stage either.  The troupe have previously toured with King Prawn, Catch 22, Reel Big Fish, Leftover Crack and the Suicide Machines, to name just a small percentage of their brushes with the ska greats.

For a band in their tenth year and soon to be releasing their fourth full-length album, it does seem surprising that the 200 capacity Barfly is considered a viable venue for the largest city on the tour.  It is clear though, that the band are just doing what they love to do.  Personally I would consider Sonic Boom Six to have surpassed the point of headlining a ‘Next Big Thing’ show.

Ten years is a long time to have to wait for that kind of marker however, (not that the Boom pay close attention to such labels) but I genuinely hope it serves them well. For those unfamiliar with the excitingly diverse array of tracks, albums and genres in the Boom back catalogue, there is certainly something to accommodate most non-mainstream tastes and the forthcoming album, whenever it may appear, will hopefully be enough to fire them towards further well deserved recognition.

One thing is for sure, whether you give them a try following this review or have experienced some Boom tracks already, you’ll never feel the full force, energy or intent of this band until you see them live.

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