Out with the cool kids tonight. People watching was a key component of the evening as London’s anti -fashion underworld met at the Scala to pay homage to one of the latest subversive bands to emerge out of South London, Insecure men.
For those that need to know this band is a side project of Saul Adamczewski (Fat white family and Warmduscher) and his school friend Ben Romans-Hopcraft ( Childhood and Warmduscher). Childhood’s album Universal is a great album, but completely different to what’s on offer here.
The audience was made up of bands (Meatraffle) people who looked like they were in or should be in bands, and what could be categorised as thrift shop warriors intent on finding some fashion howlers from the 70’s and 80’s, such as bad taste knitwear or even shell suits. Add a fair sprinkling of soviet style caps and fur hats and you get the picture. It did look like a bit of a homeless convention and there were an above number of jacked up trousers both skinny and wide legged to add to the ambience.
Support bands were Pregoblin, fronted by Alexander Sebley , who is credited in urban myth with co-writing Fat White Family’s “Touch the Leather”. A regular of the Windmill in Brixton (playing 9th March again) vocally he has something of “Orange juices” Edwyn Collins at moments. They played for about 20 minutes with a funk/dance driven vibe with songs with chorus and melodies (sometimes missing these days )and of varying tempos . Backing band were solid . They set the agenda for the evening in terms of being both subversive and heavily part of the alternative scene whilst delivering songs which were pretty mainstream accessible. Am I overthinking this or is this plan to subvert the world one song at a time. Alexander expressed his love for everyone in the crowd before exiting.
Second support was Raf Rundell , who comes from a strong dance music background. Playing tracks from his latest album “Stop Lying”under his name, he has been involved in a number of collaborations including “2 Bears”. I had an open mind on this one but willing to embrace something different. Again in my view a mainstream sound with elements of disco, two-step and indie soul in the mix he had a number of guest collaborators in his set. Biggest number is probably latest single “Sweet Cheeks”.
So far the evening is developing nicely in the build up to the headliners. And then at 9.45 they are on. I wondered how the album would sound live so in the Scala they got a good sound balance. There tunes are ones to sway to rather than get too energised it has to be said. I think in order to combat this they had projected a continuous series of images behind them to illustrate the songs. Numerous pictures of clean cut Cliff Richard and Gary Glitter accompanied “Cliff has left the building” and “Mekong Glitter”. These were not songs about past glories. The poignant chorus being “why don’t you ever ask why? “So not shying away from difficult subjects all wrapped up in nice gentle melodies with a bit of Hawaiian guitar (or synth equivalent) thrown in to give the sound a muzak feel. In the same way as you can sometimes here an emasculated version of “Pretty Vacant” being played in your local supermarket, here was a 2018 version.
The performance demonstrated some extremely clever song writing within the confines of what constitutes the parameters of popular music. What’s the end game now? Larger venues I guess but do they want to become rich and famous. What they have done in many ways so far is create a musical ecosystem, with collaborations and a seemingly co-operative attitude to creativity. The subtle approach to creating a critical and subversive worldview whilst creating this “wedding singer” type persona is testament to the talent on offer here. Without setting myself up to charges of heresy starts to make Fat White Family (my favourite band of the decade-probably) look a bit crude. Close your eyes however and certain elements would allow you to believe that this might actually have been the Fat Whites third album. Lets see what happens next.