Fangs On Fur
Intrepid Fox, London
Thursday November 15 2012
The Intrepid Fox always seems like a stage set to me. A faintly unconvincing fascsimilie of what a 'rock pub' should look like, bodged together by a yoof TV producer who has diligently assembled all the cliches - up to and including the clientele - in the pious hope that it'll look half-way convincing when the cameras roll.
Fortunately, we're in the upstairs room tonight, where the decor is slightly less hysterical and the crowd is far more for-real. And, instead of an identikit rock-huuurrggh droning through a muffled PA, which is all they can muster downstairs in the way of background listening (have you noticed how rock pubs never seem to care much about music?) we have some real live bands. First of which is...
Mean Bikini, who are a curious combination of fretboard-squinting awkwardness and insousciant what-the-hellness. The guitarists clasp their instruments tentatively, as if someone's just said "Hold that for a minute," and shoved guitars into their hands. The bassist sings in a magnificently sardonic, offhand caterwaul, and the whole rattletrap racket is shunted along by brusque, economical, push-and-shove drums.
It's the drums which give Mean Bikini's music its shape and pace - and, I'm willing to bet, it's the drummer who's been in bands before. She seems noticably more comfortable with this playing-a-gig business than the other three. But Mean Bikini do a fine job of walloping out their garage-pop-surf-punk, all rhythmic churn and grind and needle-sharp injections of guitar. Lo-fi and fine.
After a protracted changeover interlude, during which members of the Intrepid Fox staff restrain the audience with the help of a retractable crowd barrier - I kid you not, it's like being marshalled into position for doors-open at the Harrods sale - the Partly Faithful are finally ready for us.
In a swirl of high tension guitarnoize and precision-crafted angst, the band stack up their racketry like costermongers setting out a rock 'n' roll stall. Frontman Ed looms frighteningly into the audience as the band leap headlong into their taut, seething, sonic stew.
Maybe it's because they're sandwiched between two punk bands at this gig; maybe it's because the audience itself is somewhat more punk-heavy than most gigs the Partly Faithful play, but the band seem to be hitting everything harder and faster tonight. Archly dramatic Bauhaus-isms aren't going to cut it at this one. it's all going to be down to velocity and noise. Fortunately the Partly Faithful can pull plenty of that stuff out of their pockets, and tonight they chuck it at the crowd by the handful.
More Harrods sale crowd-marshalling, more gear-shunting. Headline time. Since we last encountered Fangs On Fur in Blackpool, the band have been to Whitby, Bologna, and Paris, which certainly counts as taking the scenic route to London. But here they are, in a rush of punker Technicolor, all shrieking and pumelling and unashamed, gleeful, punk rock noise.
Fangs On Fur don't go in for any of that slow build-up stuff. They don't pace themselves. They have one speed. It's approximately 90mph, and they don't slow down for corners. They hit the stage in full-on demolition derby mode, bright red hair against dim green lights, virtually daring the crowd not to get its mosh on.
The crowd, naturally, gets its mosh on. The Intrepid Fox probably hasn't seen this much excitement since some old soak in the downstairs bar had a vision of Lemmy's face at the bottom of his pint glass.
For all their red hair and red mist attitude, Fangs On Fur are a blue touchpaper band: one metaphorical match, and boom. They release energy like an ongoing explosion.
Sometimes they'll lull us into a false sense of security, as with the plangent, slo-mo build-up to 'Fire', but then the drums kick in and it all goes tribal, with F-Girl letting rip that yelp of a vocal, as if someone's just pinched Siouxsie's bum.
'Head Hunter' is a tour de force of guitar-strangling, everything rising to the staccato chorus shout: "HEAD! HUNTER!"
The four Furs on stage play to outdo each other as much as they play together, and the result is a bass-swinging, drum-hammering, guitar-schanging cockfight of a gig, as the band keep pushing it while F-Girl stalks the front row like Queen Boudica giving the troops a pep talk. 'Fangs On Fur' is the rough-and-tumble finish, the song skidding to a crashing, clanging halt like Top Cat knocking over the dustbins.
Somewhere, Lemmy detects a disturbance in the Force, and cracks a grin. The faux-rock stage set of The Intrepid Fox just got a dose of the real stuff.
Fangs On Fur:
For more photos from this gig,
find Fangs On Fur and Partly Faithful by name here.
Find a Fangs On Fur interview here.