Fat Tuesday Festival : Hastings – live review
Fat Tuesday Festival

Feb 2020

Live Review of Baxter Dury, Kid Kapachi, Beach Riot, Blabbermouth, Plaid, Massicot, Anna Paige

Recommended: Buy the new Baxter Dury album from Click here

Now firmly established after five years as a key part of the European showcase circuit and also one of the great winter town festivals, Fat Tuesday has put the spotlight on and transformed a local south coast music scene. So often it’s the driving forces in towns and cities that make the key cultural differences. There is great talent everywhere you look in the UK but it takes those Tony Wilson type figures to light the touch paper and change things.

Fat Tuesday is putting Hastings on the map and events like this are key in the 21st century culture, building bridges between local talent and the music business, empowering people to create and filling the town with vibrancy and colour. The five day event includes music showcases, panels from Unconvention (headlined by a great empowering one hour talk from Tom Robinson where he does a career overview with a disarming honesty that is full of wit and wisdom) , endless gigs and ends with a New Orleans style Mardi Gras style march hence the name of the festival.

Adam Daly is the Hastings version of these wilful powerhouses. With a hurricane of enthusiasm, he started Fat Tuesday in 2014 mainly to showcase his friend’s bands and then watched as his festival paralleled the former faded seaside town rise up the cultural calendar.

In 2020 it seems like every pub and every venue in town is busting at the seams with music. There are bands everywhere you look, people running down back streets with guitar cases and noise and joy pouring out of every nook and cranny.

Hastings itself, like many former south coast holiday towns, has been on the rise. As someone who grew up in Blackpool, it’s great to see these towns on the rise but baffling to see my own former hometown left adrift. London moves to the seaside and Manchester stays inland.  For some reason, in the south they move to the seaside and in the north,  they head. for the hills

The opening night sees an ambitious party at the White Rock Theatre, a 1000 capacity space on the seafront, headlined by Baxter Dury. The son of the iconic Ian Dury has set his own stall in the past few years and his new single, ‘I’m Not Your Dog’, is one of the songs of the year already. It’s a dirty disco groove with Dury intoning his jellied eel world weary tales over the top. The gravelly tales are fencing with a great hook, and the female backing vocal vocals and haunting strings. It’s a highly original and captivating piece of music and we love it.

Live Dury has a very different act than his vaudevillian fairground barker father. He swaggers and bumps and grinds like a gangling version from the Mick Jagger school whilst his band lay down the dystopian bastard funk grooves. It’s perfect party music for a slightly soiled and grubby UK.

The support is from local heroes Kid Kapachi who are a prime example of the effectiveness of Fat Tuesday. I’ve watched them grow over the years from skinny kids playing in packed bars to the mighty stadium indie force they are now. They wrestle with the kind of Foo Fighters indie big rock with a English modish streak. It’s big, bold and life affirming loud. Kid Kapachi have the scope and the ambition to break out big. The big stage tonight does not dwarf them and they are a run of summer festivals away from being one of those mid-afternoon, main stage, Saturday afternoon bands at a Reading. One of those bands who get huge without the permission of the media and whose audience adore them like their lives depend on it which is the way it should be in rock n roll.

Perhaps the next Kid Kapachi are Blabbermouth who deliver a killer set at the back end of a sleepy Sunday night at the gorgeous Printworks venue.

If there was ever an example of modern 21st century Hastings then it’s here. An old mill by the seafront turned into a multipurpose art centre and venue and populated by a hot young band. Blabbermouth are good, very very good. They still look like teenagers but are brimfull of confidence and their post Arctic Monkeys indie guitar is a cut above virtually a whole generation of these bands. They have insanely catchy songs full of great hooks and harmonies, they are precision tight and utterly own the stage.

If Blabbermouth are not huge within twelve months then the music biz machine is truly broken.

It’s not all indie out there at Fat Tuesday. There is a great weekend of cutting-edge post punk and electronic at Sonics. Massicot are from Geneva and their no wave sharp and angular set is captivating brilliance. Rhythmically stunning with the drums adding a bank of cowbells that deal in polyrhythmic workouts and Congolese rhythms, the band have the stripped down, post punk funk of the No Wave scene with the added clank and grind rhythmic propulsion of The Ex who they tour with.

They also have threat songs and the three women lock tight around their post punk off kilter grooves with driving bass lines played on a guitar and dissonant guitar skrike from the guitar, er, played on a guitar.

It’s utterly fab.

Headliners Plaid are delivering their stripped down electronic. There are three blokes on the stage –  a couple of them plonking around on laptops with the tension and release being provided by a violin. It’s actually really effective and the juxtaposition between the classical instrument and the digital really works as they wander off into a rhythmic soundtrack world.

There are so many bands playing that only an insane person can even scratch the surface here. Flopping out for a cup of tea means that you are in a tearoom being serenaded by Anna Paige who has been on our radar for some time. The charismatic Paige still looks like she has walked out of one of those late sixties Rolling Stones parties in deep Sussex and her wistful poetic acoustic songs create spells even around the clanking teacups of the upmarket café.

Finally, as we wander along the hurricane strewn promenade, we enter the classic spit and sawdust music boozer venue The Carlisle complete with its collage of photos of the godlike Lemmy.

It’s a bar full of bikers and rockers who look like they have been there for ever. It’s also a damn fine venue with two rooms for bands alternating as they seem to go for the record number of live gigs in one venue.

In the downstairs room, the fantastically named Beach Riot wander on the stage and look unprepoposing. There are lots of hair and junk shop clothes. They then explode into a stunning set. It’s heavy and it’s tight and the harmonies are key as the grapple and hold down the melodies over the heavy indie songs.

I know this is a much mined seam but when it’s done well like this it reminds you of the great moments of cranked alternative music from Nirvana to the Pixies but this is given a very English twist and even on a Sunday afternoon full of knackered and tired ears and grumbling hangovers the band suddenly spark the crowd back into life and everyone’s faith in rock n roll is restored yet again for the thousandth time.

Which says it all Fat Tuesday as well…

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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