Fat White Family: 02 Institute, Birmingham – live review
Fat White Family
02 Institute, Birmingham
20th February 2016
The poster boys for reflecting our currently taboo-less culture, with an image as lurid as their music – Fat White Family have divided taste and opinion since their formation in Brixton five years ago. With Fat White Family comes a reputation that covers crafting music on a mountain of drugs before stripping naked and spitting them back into the faces of their fans. Their lyrics cover Goebbels, Hitler and paedophilia and their song titles aren’t any less restricted – Bomb Disneyland, anyone?
So, it’s the first date of their UK tour, and to be honest, it’s a surprise that every member is on stage in one piece. Fat White Family have always been a loose formation with members coming and going as they please. Amidst the murky range of characters, you have two central members who could be described as volatile, but it’s much more deep-seated than that. Lias Saoudi and Saul Adamczewski’s relationship seems very fragile, very personal but ultimately built on a mutual brother-ship between the two. Following Saul’s recent problems with heroin and the assumption that they can hardly agree on anything, tonight’s set could have fell apart very easily, but there wasn’t a single blip – they played their set as brilliantly as they always have. People turn up to their gigs now with less bemused fascination and more wide-spread appreciation. There’s a cultish appeal that goes hand in hand with their raucous notoriety, but they’ve proven that there’s a sharp, passionate dexterity to them as opposed to just naked flailing.
All of the gruesome treats that smothered Champagne Holocaust are played first tonight; from the sleazy Touch The Leather to the country Cramps drudge of Heaven On Earth and the votive chants of Auto Neutron, and then, as to be expected, Lias takes his clothes off. The Ian Curtis-esque juddering slowly builds until Lias is flinging himself into the crowd numerous times, crowd-surfing and writhing whilst Saul stands sunken-eyed in the shadows with his head down. For a band who’ve never managed to capture the mastery of their live shows into their records, things turn even more indiscernible when they start playing songs off their new album, Songs For Our Mothers. Whitest Boy On The Beach, perhaps their slickest and grooviest track to date, is completely indistinguishable live as the music turns into a crazy free-for-all. It’s classic, Fat White Family revelry and makes the two components of being a musician on stage and in the studio all the more interesting.
I think the main thing that sets Fat White Family out as a different breed is the fact that they simply don’t just want to be in a band; they need to be in a band. It’s their life-force and blood supply. How many bands can you honestly say you watch where they’re genuinely putting their everything into it without any façade? Where there’s literal blood, sweat, tears and other bodily fluids thrown into the mix? There’s a horror and anger that fuel their music but it’s ground through a machine that makes the whole thing pleasing to the ear and almost comical – it’s a blessing that the band have a sense of a humour.
Most of the band are homeless, surviving only be squatting and living off of their music, which could put most bands under immense pressure to make sure their final product is better than average. Fat White Family however, are unashamedly antagonistic and in a sterile world where people seem to be offended by everything they see and read on the Internet – Fat White’s are the dirt under the fingernails we so desperately need.