Disorder decided to head to the historic 100 Club on Oxford Street to witness something with serious magnitude. Hip-hop, hardcore punk trio Ho99o9 were in town, to tear it a new one.
Disorder decided to head to the historic 100 Club on Oxford Street to witness something with serious magnitude: hip-hop, hardcore punk trio Ho99o9 were in town, to tear it a new one. First founded in 1946, The 100 is traditionally a jazz club, but in recent years has drastically changed its stance on what or who plays the venue. And it all started in 1976. Ron Watts – with the help of Malcolm McLaren (who managed the infamous Sex Pistols at the time) – hosted an event called the 100 Club Punk Special. The lineup consisted of The Damned, The Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the headlining Pistols. The show propelled punk from the underground into the mainstream, albeit not for its technical musical craftsmanship, but for violence. It is claimed that a female from the audience was partially blinded from the remnants of a pint glass that was thrown toward the stage when The Damned were playing; it hit a post and shattered everywhere. Apparently this act of violence was carried out by Sid Vicious, an act that lead, eventually, to punk being banned from the 100 Club. And that is exactly what we imagine it felt like, watching Ho9o99 play live: being smashed in the face with a pint glass.
In the tradition of notorious and vivacious performances from a wealth of artists spanning sixty years plus, New Jersey’s Ho9o99 (pronounced Horror) – who formed in 2012 – last night condemned that famous stage to a high energy and down right weird, clusterfuck of a performance. The three-piece band (or anti-band) have been associated with a subculture called Afro Punk, which is a subculture or movement that has been around since the early 2000s. It is a large community where black people of all nations play in bands that are predominately guitar lead or punk bands. They build on the foundations that were set for rock and roll and hard rock laid by black musicians in the 60s and 70s. The renaissance in the 80s with bands like Bad Brains and Suicidal Tendencies seems to inform this movement more so than their former pioneers. There is also the Afro Punk festival that started in 2005 and was founded by James Spooner; Ho99o9 played the festival back in 2014.
Their sound is jarring, doom-laden and downright insidious. From lyrics about priests copulating with skeletons to political slurs rhyming ‘apocalypse’ with ‘fuck your politics’, they leave no stone unturned. There are no guitars here; their set-up is much the same as a hip-hop act might perform. TheOGM uses a drum machine and a sampler that is cased in plastic so as to not destroy it with their sweat induced performances. Eaddy, with his bright green hair, is very much the hardcore asset to the music acting as a hype man at the same time, and their drummer blasts the kit among large dubby booms. The two bounce off each other and flit between vocal styles from Rasta infused rap, metal screams, and punk gibbering to guttural vocal styles.
Ho99o9 literally pulled the roof down, well some of it at least. Both TheOGM and Eaddy burst on stage. OGM wearing a bridal dress and a blue Mexican wrestlers mask with his natty dreads bursting out the top and Eaddy; with his bright green hair and t-shirt emblazoned with the death of Sid Vicious. Their drummer who sets up the stage before they come on wore a brown curly wig and changed into a Prince William mask he had bought off Oxford Street half way through the set. TheOGM convulses and growls intensely at breakneck speed with his offhand rap. Eaddy picks up the hardcore elements with his screams and punk gabble and treated us to a backflip at the end of the set. It would seem that their style consists of sample heavy hip hop drowning in occult imagery and hardcore punk. Every time they upped the tempo or heavy noise the crowd went berserk, they writhed in the pit being squashed against the tiny stage. There were girls with tiny frames at the front who looked like they might get crushed underneath the ever forwarding crowd. Daniel, our photographer, had to put his foot on the stage while pushing back into the audience just to get the shots. The crowd control guy didn’t know what the fuck to do, he just looked perplexed. From start to finish it was like watching two worlds collide in a hack and slash Ho99o9 movie. TheOGM changing out of his bridal dress into his boxing shorts, donning a weird black glove with feathers, fangs and his gold teeth illuminated by the crappy stage lights. At one stage he got everybody down on the floor and told everyone “when this shit drops I wanna see all of you get the fuck up!” The crowd impressed the trio as much as the trio impressed the crowd, “that’s the shit,” OGM announced. They played a plethora of material mostly from their newest release ‘Dead Bodies in the Lake’ as well as former material, with tracks like ‘Twisted Metal’, DeahKult Disciples (999 Anthem) and ‘Da Blue Nigga from Hellboy’. This show was the first venue in a string of dates across the UK. They have played with the likes of Cerebral Balzy, Body Count and Faith No More.
Philadelphia’s Nah was on first and supports Ho99o9 in more ways than one, the two acts are intrinsically linked, both collaborating with each other on Nah’s track ‘Creepin Worse’. Nah is a one-man noise machine and a force to be reckoned with. His performance is like watching a bloke smash his balls to bits with a meat tenderiser. He combines pre-made synth, a barrage of bass and harrowing samples that are triggered by a drum machine that he has in front of his drum kit. He too plays along to backtracks and samples; kicking the shit out of his kit like Animal from the Muppets on steroids. He came on stage drinking red wine, played a chilled out electronic composition, set his samples off and dived in to the crowd with the mic in hand. He then made it back to his kit and announced: “Guys I have royally fucked up,” when he missed his cue. Other parts of his set involved him puking and spitting it out at the crowd and his snare. He hit that drum so hard, it’s as if he was imagining destroying Donald Trumps face, with puke and spittle flying everywhere. We literally couldn’t believe his transformation. When we met him at the bar he was a normal dude, when he got on stage he was like something possessed. Serious energy, a DIY attitude and a fuck ton of anger. He reminded me of the drummer Berserker from Australia without the pinpoint precision, but made up for it in energy and innovation.
If punk in the 1970s changed how we perceive expression and crashed and burned in a glorious flash of studs, mohawks and leather jackets, then where does this leave us now? Who are the ones paving the way in expression and anger? If there’s one thing we took from that show, it’s that Ho99o9 are pushing the boundaries on both punk, hip-hop and electronic music to the very peak of their resilience. They are an incredible noise and force that we hope the shoppers of Oxford Street could feel through their cashmere sweaters, for the love of god, see these guys before they too burn out.
Credits: Photography, Daniel Quesada.