Mission of Burma @ Birthdays, London 06.12.12

Punk. You're probably now thinking of Johnny Rotten’s evil eyes staring you down while his raggy-clothed cohorts prattle around behind him. Yep, that's technically punk - but in style only. The songwriting, sounds and more importantly, the ethic behind independent music's (possibly) most catalytic movement was found in the phoenix-like second coming of punk that exploded in '82. While the Sex Pistols were a product, and The Clash unashamedly strove for a popper sound, people needed that injection of youth in audio; it violently spawned hardcore (Black Flag, Minor Threat), and impressively rapidly spat out bands who subscribed to a more fringe, funk-enthused aesthetic (Minutemen, Fugazi). Somewhere, the more experimental, noise-rocky - and angry - of them all coalesced into Mission of Burma.

Dec 6th, 2012 at Birthdays, London / By Gary Green
Mission of Burma Unsound, released this year, has seen the band continue their ersatz route through alternative guitar music, and a particularly small show at Birthdays, Dalston (250 capacity) is a highlight. From the go, Roger Miller’s drawl of a voice drives their blend of noise and passion, and while some songs are classic, that’s beside the point; people are here to lose their heads. Some almost succeed; headbanging and moshing to bizarre rhythms and guitar lines that barely cling onto the definition of ‘riff’ closer to the front, while a quieter, meditative state takes on most fellows at the rear. It’s a perfect audience-band symbiosis – they trust each other.

At the beginning of their set, they announce “Let’s play some punk rock”. There’s nothing like middle-aged men playing punk music – but then, there’s nothing like Mission of Burma. Apart from the mythology that surrounds them, created in due part by tomes such as Azzerad's This Band Could Be Your Life, they are their own beast. They still sound like kids; perhaps that’s a good thing.