FAT WHITE FAMILY – Botanique, Brussels – February 13, 2015
There’s a new gang in town. Fat White Family. They look like big trouble and I’m sure they beat the shit out of each other, in case of too much use of illegal substances, to make a point instead of losing time on long discussions on their opinions. A disturbed collective of six weirdo’s hailing from south-London.
Provocateurs – anarchists – dopeheads – chameleons. Frontman Lias Saoudi explained the band’s main problem in an interview with NME: “there are deep-set psychological issues in this band that are a bigger problem for us than drugs”. They claim they’re satirising rock’n’roll clichés, but beware, they know them all too well themselves. It’s the way they handle the rock and the roll tricks that makes this at times distasteful outfit, extremely special.
They want to have excessive fun as long as it lasts. And with a debut album bilious titled ‘Champagne Holocaust’ and songs about oral sex, bombing Disneyland and Lee Harvey Oswald you’re not exactly aiming at being the next U2 or having a real ‘career’ in music !
I saw them for the first time last year in my hometown, Ghent. It was a rousing gig but compared to tonight some of them were on Valium then.
They are back from New York City where they worked on their second album with… Sean Lennon. Following an encounter at SXSW festival last year they became mutual fans and decided to work together in Lennon’s studio using instruments belonging to a legendary late Beatle, to Sean’s father. Expect some psychedelic weirdness as a result. “They are chaotic and out of control” said Lennon on their collaboration.
Last week Greenwich Village, tonight Brussels. It’s Friday the 13th. An omen? The herd take the stage by storm with an adrenalized rendition of ‘Auto Neutron’ and a deafening ‘Raining In Your Mouth’. Yobbish frontman Saoudi, shirtless after one song, moves like and screams like an unhinged hooligan under influence.
They’re not intended to take prisoners. For a second it feels scary but the gnarled and mammoth intensity of the band drags you into their defiant live performance. At one point I had to jump up and sit down on the stage, halfway the set, to avoid some hotheaded forward bouncing fans. Wow ! Best seat in the house and nobody told me to leave ! Great view, fantastic experience.
Best seat in the house…
I can see Saoudi’s pupils now, rolling from left to right and back. Hey, there’s the bass player flying, head first, into the crowd. Yes, quickly followed by some overheated imitators. Security watches amused, cool strategy. Ecstatic atmosphere. The maddest rock ‘n roll tornado I’ve witnessed in years. Any references? The Fall’s venom, The Birthday Party‘s violent temperament, The Libertines’ eagerness and The Sex Pistols ‘we don’t give a shit’ attitude. Shambolic, very loud and scream along choruses.
“Anybody a light?”
Every single second electricity was in the air. It’s an 11-track set. All songs are from their pungent debut album ‘Champagne Holocaust’. Half classic, half directionless. After 50 minutes the blitzkrieg is over. Encores? Forget it. The audience doesn’t like it. Beer glasses are thrown. But hey, there’s the bass player again, head first, into the crowd (fact !). A hell of an encore. I saw him after the gig, near the bar, shirtless and sweating, sitting on a chair recovering from his actions. Exhausted and knackered, but with a smile on his face.
One man down…
Iggy and his Stooges can retire in peace now. Their successors have arrived. The question is ‘for how long’ ? I bet my money on self-destruction after one world tour. Too much too soon. So what? I had one of my most memorable gig nights in years.
(All concert pics: JL)
Here’s ‘Champagne Holocaust’ in full …