"Gimme danger," Iggy Pop demanded in 1974, two years before punk even existed, and if he'd foreseen how pitifully safe the movement he spawned would become, most likely he wouldn't have bothered. A quarter of a century on, in an age when "punk rock" means overprivileged Californians in pink hair, baggy shorts and boxfresh trainers knocking out chirpy, choreographed three-chord pop tunes, it falls to two very different overseas bands to show the world how it ought to be done.
The Parkinsons are a danger junkie's wildest fantasy, a rock journalist's wet dream, and a venue promoter's nightmare. Four skinny urchins – three parts Portuguese, one part Scottish, 100 per cent rock'n'roll – The Parkinsons were reared on the mythology of Iggy and Sid Vicious, and they're not just in it for the T-shirts. It isn't just that trouble follows The Parkinsons: they chase it like a pack of wild starving dogs.
The first time I walked in on a Parkinsons gig, the band was already stark naked and caked in urine, blood, vomit, and faeces (possibly their own, possibly not), and the show ended when Alfonso shorted the entire venue's electricity by pulling down the lighting rig. They were forcibly ejected from the Reading Festival when Alfonso's girlfriend ran on stage topless. Other gigs have ended abruptly when the band urinated on the crowd. No one knows for sure exactly how many songs The Parkinsons have got, because they've never completed a set.
From the moment a bare-chested Alfonso, skin shrinkwrapped around his tiny ribcage, kicks over the mike stand, tries to decapitate the front row with it, smashes the microphone into the floor – this is in the first song – and has to borrow one from guitarist Victor (who, controversially, can actually play), you know that tonight will be no exception. During the second song the sound on the stage cuts out, and Pedro, wearing only Hawaiian shorts, gallops over to the mixing desk to sort it out. Alfonso, meanwhile, bellows "Give us power, you fucking cunts! I know this is Shoreditch, where everthing's so pretty-pretty, but we're The Parkinsons, not the fucking Stereophonics!" For one more song, there's an uneasy peace, until Alfonso boots a monitor wedge to the floor. Suddenly, the plug is pulled, and a militia of baseball-hatted, Puffa-jacketed bouncers charge the stage and throw The Parkinsons off. Literally. Alfonso hits the wall ("like a squash ball", as his manager later puts it with barely concealed relish) and all hell breaks loose, in a three-way Wild West brawl between band, security and audience. Bottles fly, guitars are wielded like mediaeval broadswords, Alfonso's girlfriend is punched, camera crews are warned to cut the filming, and chants of "fucking fascists!" and "Parkinsons! Parkinsons!" erupt as the violence spills out onto Rivington Street.
In years to come, tonight may become mythologised as the Shoreditch Riot. In months to come, The Parkinsons may become the punk rock So Solid Crew, shunned by venue owners nationwide. For now, catch them if you can. Just be sure to wear wipe-clean clothing.
The Swedish fivesome International Noise Conspiracy share a label with The Hives, and singer Dennis Lyxzén clearly attended the same performing arts academy as Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, probably sitting next to him in Microphone Majorette classes for Skinny Youths (the way he lassos his mic around his head, sticks out a hand, then catches it without even looking, is quite a trick). A closer comparison, though, for their supercharged garage rock-soul style might be a politicised Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. INC marked the 10th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre by flying over to China for an illegal 15-gig underground tour across the country.
"It's not about American people getting killed, it's about human beings getting killed", Lyxzén lectures during one intro, but grim polemic isn't their style – Lyxzén drops into the splits three times in succession showing a healthy regard for entertainment value. Punk rock may have lost the plot, but it's just found the Conspiracy.Reuse content