Fat White Family at the Lexington
PHOTO CREDS: Lou Smith
If you’ve been to The Lexington before, you’ll know that its classic pub chic aesthetic downstairs is just a guise for the mayhem that is to follow once you’ve ventured up to the top floor. If you haven’t been there, the gig space is a small, dimly lit and, most of the time, sweaty theatre-esk setting that acts like the womb for music on the corner of Pentonville Road.
Since the announcement of Fat White Family’s third album, Serfs Up, their name has been the word on everybody’s lips. This week saw these relics of the south London music scene embark on a two intimate gigs on The Lexington stage which sold out within seconds of their release – this is not an exaggeration.
Underground got the chance to check out the fleshy pandemonium that is not only expected but practically promised by the opportunity to see the Fat Whites (as they are known to their friends) in their natural habitat: a good ol’ pub stage. This was how the opening night went…
Pre-door opening, the pub was bustling with the stench of excitement as friends of the band, regular followers and casual pub dwellers geared up for the start of the show. With conversation about the movements of the band and whether anyone had a spare ticket began to flutter around the room, the atmosphere quickly became as intoxicating as cheap bottle of whiskey used to pre-drink is.
When the clocks finally struck 8 members of the crowd began to queue to bagsy a spot close to the stage and catch the first act of the night Pregoblin.
Once upstairs drink in one had and a proud stamp connoting your entrance on the other, you were met with the omnipresent persona Dan Lyons – a quintessential figure in the Brixton music scene – who introduces the band.
As the six piece entered the stage they carried with them a nonchalance that added a flare of tres coolto their performance. Setting the theme for the night, Pregoblin are one of those bands with an ever-changing lineup of musicians with a few originals remaining but when together guarantee something completely unique.
Sharing the lead vocal position was the hypnotizingly charismatic Jessica Winter alongside the blasé swagger of Alex Sebley. Acting as the yins to each other’s yangs they cleverly create an equilibrium that becomes the paradoxical centre of their music as the other members played with effortless charm.
But this shouldn’t be a surprise to many as they regularly score the support slot for the Fat Whites (and their various other projects), regardless Pregoblin’s performance was jam packed full of nostalgic 70s funk and garage rock motifs as they worked through a setlist filled with fan favourites such as ‘Love Letters’ and ‘Combustion’. Zany and nothing but bohemian, Pregoblin was a pleasure and joy that gave you a rush to ride on for the headlining act.
Soon after Pregoblin, the crowd evacuated to the smoking area or to a space at the bar before the main event. Once returned it wasn’t long before everyone had all their needs met, as Pat Lyons joined the stage once more to introduce Fat White Family. Taking their positions on stage, helpfully outlined by various cans of Guinness and a bottle of tequila, the seven-piece just about fit on the stage — nicely lined up like well-dressed sardines.
Kicking off with their holy grail track ‘I am Mark E Smith’ the crowd quickly become one with the band, forming a choir of buzzing degenerates that only but begot the bedlam that was to follow. With a mix of the old, the new and something blue the band worked through a setlist that was full of crowd pleasers and never-been-heard before tracks.
Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long before these renegades became rulers of a debaucherous mosh pit and had them licking the sweat out of their hands. Some highlights saw classics like ‘Special Ape’ and ‘Cream of the Young’ slip off of the band’s tongues and into reminiscent hearts, alongside newer tracks to anticipate their upcoming album Serfs Upwhich included songs ‘Bobby’s Boyfriend’ and ‘Tastes Good With Money’ that made the crowd groove of despite their inability to sing along.
Newest release ‘Feet’ was of course thrown in the spirituous mix, with every member flourishing in the climatic response from the crowd who seemingly ignored Saul’s reading from a sheet of lyrics.
Full of gritty riffs and sordid synths, the dirty-good performance encapsulated staple Fat White Family wryness while also embodying a musical transmutation into a fuller sound that bear witness to the band’s willingness to be the controllers of their universe.
The final crescendo of reverberating guitars, crashing drums and indulgent saxophoning was something of a marvel that left you feeling as if you were teetering on the edge of a new stratosphere waiting to be bust open. And if one thing is clear it’s that these libertines of the proletariat are the ones determined to tear open an entrance.
PHOTO CREDS: April Arabella
Roll on their next call to action…see their tour for more details:
1st, Southampton @ The 1865
2nd, Brighton @ Concorde 2
3rd, Bristol @ Academy
4th, Manchester @ The Ritz
7th, Glasgow @ SWG3 TV
8th, Dublin @ Button Factory
9th, Sheffield @ Leadmill
10th, Nottingham @ Rock City
12th, Leeds @ Gold Sounds Festival
14th, Norwich @ Waterfront
15th, London @ Kentish Town Forum
Word By Aimee Williams-Maynard