Electric Ballroom – September 18th
Fat White Family were one of the standout acts at Beacons Festival, where they fought the noise of the storm battering the tent with a tempestuous performance (they won). So when their Camden Ballroom show was announced I jumped at the chance to see what kind of madness they’d provide as a headline act on home turf.
The main floor is packed out, the dimming lights signal their entrance to the smoke-laden stage. It’s like the opening scene of a Spaghetti Western directed by Nicolas Winding Refn: crimson lights pour through the haze alongside the sound of trippy, country-guitar noodlings to create a weirdly hellish atmosphere, before they segue into ‘Auto Neutron’. The audience react with their bodies swaying and pressing, a couple of drinks thrown across the crowd or onto the stage for good measure.
Lias Saudi struts like an intoxicated seducer, his haggard body on show in all its pallid glory. His voice is volatile, switching from drunken drawl to throat-tearing scream on ‘I Am Mark E Smith’ and ‘Is It Raining In Your Mouth?’ He’s the lonely drunk staggering home after last orders, mumbling criticisms under his breath then venting past transgressions at the sky. Considering the band’s previous exploits include getting cocks out on stage and chucking a pig’s head around you could say that this was one of their ‘tamer’ performances, although it was anything but dull.
A relentless touring schedule (they have 2 nights off over the next 11 days) is evident in Fat White Family’s exceptional execution. It’s an instinctive synergy of lazy grooves and detuned melodies in precise discordance, the soundtrack of a debauched squat party where everyone is way more than half cut. I’m not suggesting that Fat White Family are substance abusers, but their music stems from the chaos of psychedelia; Champagne Holocaust is a glimpse inside the minds of madmen, but tonight their insanity is laid bare for all to see.