Sunday, 9 August 2015


Fat White Family gigs are always good. I've not seen a duffer yet. Certainly the one I witnessed last night - in a hipster-occupied former factory space in East London - scored highly on all the usual requisites... acrobatics, drama, bad psychedelia, noise, disturbance, damage. All in abundance.

Of course, I loved it. And my friends hated it.

I was hanging with a different crowd. A gang of visiting Californians. They'd seen 'it all' before. They'd already seen 'it all' done so much better. That's what they thought. That's what they told me. Of course, they're completely wrong.

Decades ago, they might have had a point. The MC5 were probably the most malevolent miscreants to ever stand on (and fall off) a Grande stage. They had haters, just like Fat White Family have today - although the MC5's opponents operated on an institutional and international level.

Rooted at the side of the concrete, hessian and brickdust stage of The Laundry in Hackney, my senses clobbered by 'Raining In Your Mouth' and 'Touch The Leather', I couldn't help but fall into flashback after flashback to some old MC5 live footage from 1968 or '69 that I have cause to have seen. In that clip, shot at a political rally in Boston (I think), the 'stage' area is defined by handheld rope. It's as anarchic and undefined as Fat White Family's makeshift platform in E8.

In both (footage and real life), tattooed and hairy boys and girls run a rampage, scattering over the boards, getting in the way, diving on and off, wrestling with mics and leads. In the old film, Rob Tyner is up and down on his knees, screaming wild oblivion. In 2015, Lias and his hair are blurred and flying, in and out of outstretched hands. In both, pretty much the whole band are smoking and playing simultaneously - the latterday lot, of course, in clear contravention of the great smoking laws of our fine country.

An intern photographer stood next to me stops shooting for a second to lift a one-finger salute to each and every person before him, unwittingly apeing Brother JC's actions as seen in that old, old clip.

A cowboy hat (a very wrong cowboy hat, I'm informed by my American friends) is worn in 2015. As it is in 1968 or '69. So is a redneck baseball cap. The band look so shockingly untogether and sound so shockingly close to falling apart. It's real as can be, in other words, and about as rough-around-the-edges and therefore captivating as The MC5 must have been at the height of their powers. You'd be a wise person not to give any of Fat White Family (or The MC5) your home address. That's what I think, sometimes.

The set over, one of my American friends shouted: "Boo, you suck!" just quietly enough so that the band wouldn't actually hear. Later he talked about having had tomatoes in his pocket and having thought about throwing them. He didn't do that, though. Because, he announced several times, "they would probably like that!"

Funny. I don't think they would have given a flying fuck.

No comments:

Post a Comment