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Live Review – CKY – Wedgewood Rooms


Live Review – CKY – Wedgewood Rooms

Growing up in the nineties and noughties was a golden age for my generation – we had MSN Messenger (RIP), the nu-metal wave and the birth of reality-style prank shows – namely Jackass and CKY. Those adult male pranksters terrorised the streets of America and the world with their motley crew of misfits – and were most likely the ones who started the whole ‘prank video’ phenomenon.

If you grew up in the same era as me, the names should be familiar to you, and you would have undoubtedly heard of the band CKY. Initially a four piece from Pennsylvania headed by guitar maestro Deron Miller, the band was formed in the late nineties, enjoying varied success in skating circles and with their constant association with Jackass – the band members occasionally starring in episodes, or the music being used – before the death knoll tolled in 2011 due to Deron’s ill health.

Fast forward to 2016, and rumours begin circling of the band reforming to rapturous elation. They entered 2017 with a bang and lived up to the hype, resurfacing as a three piece now headed by lead guitarist and new vocalist Chad Ginsburg with bassist Matt Deis and drummer Jesse Margera – the brother of the infamous Jackass Bam; with a new album out on June 16th, with several tours lined up.

They hit the UK first after an eight year hiatus, and I took the opportunity to see how the band now works in its new form; heading to the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth. It’s an intimate venue with capacity for around five hundred people – although it has still seen the likes of Annihilator and Bowling for Soup gracing its stage – and tonight was no exception, sold out for the third date of CKY’s tour. This was clearly a highly anticipated return to UK shores for the Pennsylvania rockers.

First up was opening act Graveyard Johnnys, a rockabilly three piece from Wales who put on a seriously entertaining show, with a double bass and their catchy tunes coupled with their swinging, rocking sound. They were really enjoyable to watch and I cannot wait to see some more of them.

CKY were next, and the atmosphere in the room was palpable – old and new fans together to watch their beloved CKY embark on a new era. For a massive surprise, fan favourite Bam walked onto the stage to rapturous cheers to introduce his brother’s band. They dive straight into Human Drive in Hi-Fi, an old time classic from their first album ‘Volume One’. I struggle with Chad’s vocals to begin with – having been accustomed to Deron’s gravelly tones of the past – and in my opinion with the three piece still trying something new, it will hopefully improve with time and change age-old perceptions.

As CKY thundered on with Sporadic Movement, Sink into the Underground and Frenetic Amnesiac from the ‘Infiltrate.Destroy.Rebuild’ album, it is clear to see the band still has a tight sound even though they are now devoid of a rhythm guitar and proficient vocalist. However in my opinion, there is more work to be done – and the less said about new song Days of Self-Destruction, the better. They will never be the CKY from my youth, instead taking on a more blues sound in this new era – but then that had always been my fear since I heard they were getting back together without Deron. I am happy to see my childhood favourite band resurrected even in its current iteration though, because I know ex-frontman Deron is well again and working on new things of his own – and two CKY bands are better than none. And after meeting with the band after the show, they are a lot more relaxed than they used to be; the camaraderie between them plain for all to see.

Even though the band are in a different format, they still made the sold-out venue throb with energy; mosh pits surfacing throughout the crowd like nothing had ever changed. When they headed into old fan favourite 96 Quite Bitter Beings, the whole room went absolutely manic. We then got treated to a lengthy guitar solo from Chad to lead us into another favourite of mine – Escape From Hellview. Our final treat of the night was Bam coming back out on stage to give the die-hard CKY Alliance fans a classic rendition of Bite it You Scum by GG Allin, him getting right into the absolutely rabid crowd and taking the gropes, hugs and handshakes with decorum.

So, in my closing notes, my main observation is this – CKY are back, just with a new face. The energy and fun that used to fill the shows is all still there, even if they are now minus one on the member count and talent pool. Whilst I am sure many die-hards would love to see the four piece reunited, this unfortunately has a snowflake’s chance in Hell of happening; so enjoy this new CKY whilst you can. From what I could tell, being a three piece hasn’t seemed to entirely disadvantage the band – and I even met a couple of people on this tour that had never seen CKY live before now and absolutely loved the show, so I hardly can remonstrate the band for trying this new format.

Niki Flynn