Saturday 1 March 2014

Fat White Family, Claw Marks, Atomic Suplex at Electrowerks - 25 February 2014

Fat White Family (pic via

Upon hitting Electrowerkz I discover what appears to be a riot going on atop the stage. Guitarists are leaping around and there's an almighty garage rock din. Once my eyes acclimatise to the apparent chaos, the individual components of Atomic Suplex start to become clearer.

The focal point is Suplex 98, his face obscured by a pilot's helmet emblazoned with the words 'Rock & Roll'. He wrestles with a guitar as though his life depends upon it (the guitar seems to be winning) and beneath his open leather jacket a black rug of chest hair is visible. It's fair to say that he would stand out even if he wasn't shrieking into a microphone set into the side of his helmet.

To his left, a tall guy lurches back and forth as he shouts and snarls at his own mike. It should all be a mess but the sheer rock and roll energy carries them through. I like Atomic Suplex a lot.

I'm very pleased with Claw Marks too. This is another band where apparent mayhem and anarchy are used in the service of a blistering performance.

Claw Marks feature a wildly bearded front man who dances daintily despite his size and who is within minutes stringing his microphone from the ceiling so that he can hang from it while declaiming like a demented boxing announcer. He looks fairly familiar and I suspect this is the same magnificent creature who sings with Human Hair, a similarly frenetic and uncompromisingly loopy bunch. (Indeed it is!)

This is what live music is all about and how it differs fundamentally from the recorded experience. It fills you with a warm glow- the energy from the stage infuses your very being. You could say this is just racket and noise and wilful stupidity – but you would be utterly wrong. This is rock and roll at its most exciting.

So – I’m a fan then.

Much has been made of Fat White Family. They are an underground band who have garnered mainstream attention in the inkies through the age old combination of outrage and actually having a whiff of danger about them.

They don’t disappoint this evening. They spend much of their performance topless and diving in and out of the enthusiastic crowd. This is nominally in support of new single Touch the Leather.

There’s very much a ‘gang’ vibe here and purely in terms of media attention they remind me of a previous generation of arty hooligans called the Lo-Fidelity Allstars -although the Fat Whites have a lot more about them than that bunch. That said, I don’t quite get the same buzz of excitement from them that I did from the supports. I think it might be that although they look the part, the music itself is relatively straightforward.

That’s a minor caveat though – this band, like the others tonight, are all about the live experience.

It all ends with Claw Marks invading the stage with the Fat Whites for a canter through The Monks ‘I Hate You’. Not a lot better than this.

It’s been a terrific night’s fun. All three acts have been worth a watch and restore my somewhat flagging energy levels.

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