Here’s the thing. The 2015 NME annual tour rolls into Nottingham’s Rock City celebrating its 20th anniversary on a decent enough late February evening. No snow, no rain. But there’s not many in the audience either. In spite of keenly priced ticketing, just £16-a-pop to see Palma Violets, Fat White Family, Slaves and The Wytches, this is surely one of the thinnest Rock City crowds for a while. No queue to get in, no queuing at the bars for a drink, and upstairs was closed. Even the guy in the toilets offering a ‘free’ tissue and a squirt of cheap cologne seems to have lost interest.
The Wytches are on stage early, and at 7.15pm way too early – and, bizarrely, walk on to The Simpsons theme tune – and there are barely a hundred in there. A pity. Late tour replacements for the now defunct The Amazing Snakeheads, the band got straight into their garage-psych-punk set, drawn from last year’s debut album, Annabel Dream Reader, issued on the Heavenly label. They’re good and they’re back again in Notts soon – in May for the DHP Family’s Dot to Dot big day of music, involving a dozen or so venues across town. Let’s hope they get a headline / near headline gig, with a bigger crowd? They deserve it.
Third on – some guy in a military-style hat and jacket, with half a loaf (?) in each hand, crumbling the bread as he enchants the Fat Whites out from backstage. WTF. Possibly Definitely the best live band around at the moment, Lias Saoudi has brought the South London-collective, to town. Maybe there’s a new drummer and bassist on board, or perhaps it’s just a couple of mates standing in? No one cares. No-one is talking about that. What they are talking about is Fat White Family’s unpredictability. Anticipation of the unexpected is what matters. Fuck routine. Like me chatting to Nathan Saoudi (keys) after a festival gig last summer about John Nash and Game Theory and stuff – what was that all about? For about an hour. Never expected that. The band strike up Auto Neuron, with Lias randomly wandering around the stage, swigging Guinness from a can, a bottle of mineral water safely tucked under his arm. For laters. Yep, mineral water. Others have written about the hardcore content of the Fat Whites lyrics – and second track tonight, Is It Raining In Your Mouth? comes to mind – but the Fat Whites are more than that. To reduce the band to sets of lists of words and extract meaning from them is a pointless exercise. Highlights are Auto Neuron, Is It Raining In Your Mouth? I Am Mark E Smith, Wild American Prairie, Wet Hot Beef, Touch the Leather and Bomb Disneyland. Yep, the whole set. To choose one track misses the point. And they squeezed 35 minutes into their 30-minute time slot. Confident, determined and spot on.
Check out Shaun’s stunning photographs from Fat White Family’s set here.
By Shaun Gordon, Media by Shaun Gordon