ARTIST: Fight Like Apes
SUPPORT: Fever Fever; I Dream in Colour
VENUE, TOWN: Tutu’s, KCUL, London, UK
DATE: 10th May 2011
FIVE WORD REVIEW: Fight Like Apes, Play like Gods
MAIN REVIEW: There’s something innately likeable about opening act Fever Fever, they have a sort of gloomy, self depreciating camaraderie:
“This single is called Monster. I hope you like it, but if you don’t it doesn’t matter because some people do…”
They’re also apparently from the fabled city of Nor-Witch, power centre of the water world-like dystopia of County Norfolk, England’s own Mariana Trench. So they’re survivors if nothing else.
At a glance it’s pretty simple stuff – three members, two guitars, one drum-kit and since the girls outnumber the boys there are obvious parallels to be drawn with the now faded Riot-Grrl movement but that’s wrong. Fever Fever hit fast and they hit loud with a sound that is clean and measured, delivered with an almost machine-like precision. Featuring crisply barked vocals that follow a perfect one-two ebb and flow. Imagine a pair of gleaming industrial lathes slowly grinding the black beach rock of Transylvania into a fine black sand surrounded by screaming bats – Fever Fever are the audio equivalent of this.*
And it’s very, very good.
It’s pretty tough following an act like Fever Fever, so I Dream In Colour have got their work cut out for them as they step up to the plate… and strike out Sounding a little like a cleaner Kings of Leon, there’s something unwholesome about their manicured look and inoffensive pop-rock, particularly the choir-boy-like vocal delivery – you just can’t help feeling that like you’re looking at band-themed issue of GQ. It’s a sentiment shared as a nearby member of the audience mutters the immortal line:
“… V-necks so low you can almost see their pubic mounds…”
They pick themselves up as they get into their stride and the dark-haired lad they had on guitar pulled off some really nice work, but you’ve really heard it all before.
Finally, it’s time. It’s time to Fight Like Apes.
Which apparently demands a Vangelis-style grand opening sequence that gradually mutates into something that can only be described as a massacre of the keys, with the employment of head, hands and feet to smash the notes out. Then in a shower of booze and a scream of defiance it’s on.
MayKay’s vocals absolutely tear through you. Delivered from a screaming face full of fringe, it’s like Ring’s Sadako decided give up wells and nightgowns for a mic and hotpants. With Jamie Fox alternatively glaring across the audience accusingly, as if wondering which one stole his shoes, or hunched, hammering wildly over his Casio, like some demented Quasimodo-esque figure you half expect to begin bellowing “The Synths, The Synths!”**
The visual spectacle continues as Fox decides to go wandering round the stage for a bit, pushing things over, tormenting the bassist and generally making a mess. When things look to get boring they mix it up by picking out two bits of scaffolding and beating out the time together halfway up the sound system. All this while singing about failed beer-stoked relationships, Irish radio personalities and shitty daytime television and without ever dropping the beat. It’s anarchic, ludicrous and utterly compelling, like the inmates have escaped the asylum; except they’re all secretly Jack Nicholson.
The crowd certainly love it – when the Mary steps off into the crowd for a bit of an impromptu sing-a-long, standing in a ring of faces, it’s a bit like watching a prophet singing hymns alongside the faithful. Such a strong sense of community in such a simple act, but then Karaoke was secretly God’s last gift to man.
And that’s because it’s not just limited to being raw knucklehead fun, it’s also funny, sweet and surprisingly delicate – sometimes all at once – see ‘Thank God You Weren’t Thirsty (Lightbulb)’. Nothing stays static and their ability to shift direction, pace and tone so abruptly, but in way that seems to natural, underlines the skill of their playing.
So despite a monstrous set length that runs the gamut of their material, FLA never overstay their welcome and never cease to entertain. They finish on a massive blowout with ‘Battlestations’ that seems stage adapted to be at least twice as loud and proud as it seems on the album.
Funny, clever, talented and utterly unconcerned with anyone’s perceptions of them, FLA are the perfect antidote to, well, everything – not a whiff of pretention, just pure rock and roll and fuck-it-all spirit.
*Get lost, useless Geography students, never mind that Transylvania is landlocked.
** Just realised this is potentially offensive – it was actually a Roland.