Fat White Family @ Start the Bus, Bristol, 23/02/2014

Fat White FamilyRaucous rock'n'rollers Fat White Family arrive at Start the Bus armed with glowing reviews from the likes of the NME, The Guardian and Noisey - no mean feat for a band whose debut album Champagne Holocaust often treads a fine line between sublime and ridiculous. They're a group with an interesting history to say the least, drawing criticism from some quarters recently after draping a "The Bitch is Dead" banner from their HQ shortly after the death of Margaret Thatcher. Tonight was never going to be uneventful.

Kicking off with album opener "Auto Neutron", a sleazy blues romp, it's not long before front man Lias Saudi, who appears in a suit, is shirtless and moshing in the crowd with some of the Fat White Family's most devoted followers. It's a fitting name for a band who seem to have achieved cult status already, as there's a real sense of togetherness among the sizeable crowd, many of whom are hanging on Saudi's every word and yelling them back at him. Part of the family.

Three songs in, and the majority of the Fat Whites are now topless. The speed with which these shirts are disappearing is more than matched by the speed and intensity of the music, however. Champagne Holocaust is clearly a record that's brought to life in a live setting, planting its feet firmly on the sublime side of the sublime/ridiculous divide. The infectious energy of the band really starts to transmit to the gig-goers in such an intimate venue, which is the perfect setting for this wall of glorious noise and riotous rock 'n' roll. No barriers, no overzealous security, just a band doing their thing within spitting distance of their loyal fans.

Champagne Holocaust certainly has its moments, but live, the Fat White Family's music makes perfect sense. Picking apart the pieces of a record which at times just sounds like indecipherable noise, this has everything you want from a gig - searing noise, unpredictability, spontaneity - you name it. Album cuts "Special Ape" and "Heaven on Earth" in particular get massive reactions from a crowd who by now are totally engrossed in the chaos of this living, breathing animal of a live show.

There's a visceral energy and bite to the Fat Whites which sets them apart from many of their contemporaries - if indeed anyone can justly be compared to this London five-piece. Bomb Disneyland sparks a stage invasion, a mass outpouring of joy and general bedlam before they slip off stage, not saying a word. Job done.


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