Kung Fu 2020
Rolling their milestone into the future, American punk mainstays file a concert report.
One quarter of a century spent in action might be a great excuse for any vigorous group to lose impetus, yet this ensemble don’t give a flying fuck about old farts as there’s a lot of venom in Kris Roe’s trio’s veins to be spilled on punters. And it’s about time the band’s fans receive a new on-stage document, what with their only properly issued live record arriving way back in 2004 and a few later releases either limited to smaller markets or not available on disc. The set the veterans delivered in Illinois in 2019 is well worth the worldwide exposure, the full-on energetic songs on offer a proud proof of the collective’s current capabilities.
It’s not a greatest hits display, even though the artists touch upon several notches in their catalogue – ten out of five pieces here hail from 2003’s “So Long, Astoria”: the group’s most successful album – but this array of has a fine flow to it and a nice, stentorian ring, too, from the solemn squeal of “In This Diary” onward to “All Songs At Once” – a fresh mashup of the entire gig, a mad essence of the trio’s pop-noise. For all the ferocity, though, which the likes of “Unopened Letter To The World” are infused with, they demonstrate overt passion, and when the singer is left alone to emote on “Your Boyfriend Sucks” and a couple other numbers, Roe’s raw six-string strum and voice equal the acoustic approach he revealed earlier. That’s what makes the concert takes on “Boys Of Summer” and “The Saddest Song” so special, while the pride of space should go to the folk-informed “Summer ’79” where bass and drums fuel up Kris’ stanzas.
Somewhat aloof, “Takeoffs And Landings” also gets high on a powerful, slightly aggressive groove, yet the “pretend” finale “Radio #2” – whose lines are shared with the audience – hits the crowd right in the face. The whole record does, so losing impetus might be out of question for another 25 years.