The coin toss, the age-old way to decide. Tonight one more shiny spin determines a famous landmark in the chronicles of time: who headlines the Concorde 2 and ends one of the most notorious double headline tours of the musical moment. Fat White Family or The Growlers? Call it.
First up though it’s Brighton (via Peterborough) Psych rockers The Wytches. It’s quiet in the Concorde 2 but fills up quickly as the opening chords of ‘Burn Out The Bruise’ begin. The trio hurtle through the track; a highlight from their forthcoming debut album ‘Annabel Dream Reader’. Cloaked in black and bathed in red lights they play a demonic and thunderous set. ‘Digsaw’ has Frontman Kristian Bell harnessing his inner Cobain with shrieking vocals atop of titanic bass licks and surf guitar. They close on a true high note with ‘Gravedweller’ which sounds like The Cramps via The White Stripes and incites a massive mosh pit at the front.
The Growlers may have lost the toss but they’re coming off of a triumphantly raucous headline slot at London’s Oslo. They nonchalantly stroll on stage all moustaches and beards looking like Stillwater from ‘Almost Famous’ on a beach holiday. Opener ‘Big Toe’ from forthcoming album ‘Chinese Fountain’ sounds incredible live and bodes well for the new material. The five self-proclaimed beach goths seem at home in Brighton with frontman Brooks Nielson revealing previously how the group had surfed here: “…It was freezing…but it was fun…”.
And fun is what The Growlers are all about: “Life is for living and that’s as far as we got with our plans” Nielson croons between two mics during ‘In Between’. The Californians continue with a slew of hits that are all received jubilantly. ‘Someday’ sounds classic and timeless as does ‘Humdrum Blues’ from last year’s excellent ‘Not Psych!’ EP. There’s a positive warmth emanating from the band that’s reflected in the crowd who are feeding off of their energy. Watching The Growlers is like seeing a 60s psych band transported through time, having been raised on a diet of The Walkmen and Little Joy albums. The band seem unsure of how long they have left but to the crowd’s delight manage to squeeze in a storming rendition of ‘One Million Lovers’ complete with gorgeous surf guitar hooks and sunny lines like “You know you’re living, when it all becomes a blur”.
From the sunshine into to the shadows… Fat White Family have arrived. The last we saw of them was a chaotic headline show on Friday night at The Great Escape. Frontman Lias Saoudi was naked and caked in mud (at least we hope it was mud) writhing around in the carnivorous crowd. The Haunt was transformed into Colonel Kurtz’s lair in ‘Apocalypse Now’. The horror.
It’s business as usual tonight then as Saoudi rips his top off and conducts the crowd to chant through the funereal bars of epic opener ‘Auto Neutron’. The band are a commanding and terrifying presence onstage. All looking as if they are hanging on by a thread to keep their individual parts in check while still managing to sound together and huge. The audience are lapping it up and being stirred into frenzy by Saoudi, the demented pastor of a degenerate church. ‘Touch The Leather’ and ‘Cream Of The Young’ provide the highlights with mass singalongs of “Five sweaty fingers on the dashboard!” as the venue erupts in a sea of gyrating bodies. Saoudi: shirtless and convulsing looks like a nightmarish Jim Henson puppet of Iggy Pop and Sid Vicious. Closer ‘Bomb Disneyland’ has Saoudi singing: “All your kids are dead kids, all your kids are naked in my mind” with a sinister Mark E. Smith croon. The band meanwhile providing a perfectly pandemic musical backdrop for the anarchy. The crowd are rampant.
And like some weird and wonderful dream that all turned a bit harrowing we snap back to reality. It’s a bit wrong and a bit dirty but can we have some more please?
Concorde 2, Tuesday 19th August
Words by Andy Baker
Photos by Ashley Laurence