This Fat White Family review was written by Stephen Butchard, a Gigsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson.
Fat White Family’s frontman, Lias Saoudi, arrives on stage already dripping in sweat from inside an oversized suit jacket. Just three songs into their shambolic set and he’s completely naked, straddling the mic stand while yelling into the crowd. “We’ve just been told this is an over 14’s, apparently” he awkwardly slurs before wrestling to get his undies back on. By the end of the set, the rest of his six-strong troupe have joined him in their pants. For fans of the scuzzy band, everything is going to plan.
To frame a review by focusing on such a garish gimmick may seem unfair, but from the offset, Fat White Family have been all about pushing the boundaries of taste. Their ragged psych rock is loaded with lyrics about molestation, fascism and general depravity. On record, these lyrics are matched with a diseased, low-fi rock backdrop that can occasionally feel neutered, floating in the middle too often to feel truly harrowing. In the live setting, the band turn all of their volatile characteristics up to their extremes, for a sound that’s as euphoric as it is grimy.
There’s no doubting the limits Fat White Family are willing to go for a good shock, but their live performance is brimming with undeniable energy and viscera. ‘Auto Neutron’ begins at an intoxicated crawl, building with giddy intensity over its ten minutes. It sounds like a warped Frankenstein version of ‘Don’t You (Forget about Me)’, and the band’s charisma sells the transformation completely. Sludgy guitars, bombastic drums, drawling vocals and shots of electronic fuzz fill the venue in a way that’s rarely reached in the studio. A beer and sweat soaked stage is where Fat White Family were destined to be.
The set continues just as well, with the off-kilter singalong ‘Cream of the Young’. Its barebones riffs aren’t revolutionary, and could potentially grow stale if it wasn’t for the magnetic swagger the band deliver them with. From kraut-pop to Throbbing Gristle, the band have been fairly open about their overbearing influences, but the lack of originality doesn’t really matter when the degeneracy is this fun to wallow in.
Towards the end of the set, former Amazing SnakeheadDale Barcley joins the band on stage – he’s easy to spot being the only person fully clothed. From that point on, the band’s crushing heaviness is even more apparent. Recent single ‘Whitest Boy on the Beach’ is an obvious highlight, with its volatile chorus that threatens to disintegrate with every repetition of the refrain. “IS IT I, IS IT I, IS IT I?!” Saudi shouts, bashing the microphone against his head as he regresses into a primeval Doyle McPoyle.
The band play through without an encore (they aren’t exactly one for formalities, after all), tearing through fan favorite ‘Touch the Leather’ with all of the volatile energy they’ve become known for. Its stomping chorus is the most ecstatic of the night, with mashed keyboards and bashed guitar frets morphing the song into a messy fit of noise.
The bands volatile nature isn’t always as impressive, though. At their recent set in Nottingham, half of the band reportedly left the stage early after a falling out. For a band this aggressively disheveled, it’s hard to know what the outcome will be. Luckily for their Glasgow fans, this impulsiveness is what makes their set so impressive tonight.
Fat White Family’s second album ‘Songs for our Mothers’ is out now on Fat Possum Records.
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