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LIVE REPORT: Fluffer Pit Party
Oliver Cookson , November 27th, 2017 08:48

It’s a sad goodbye to The Coronet, another great London venue forced to close, but a big hello to Black Lips, Warmduscher, Madonnatron, Future Of The Left and general noisy debauchery

Warmduscher photo by Lou Smith

Fluffer Pit Parties. The concept is simple. Book a lineup of the best bands in the land, stick them on an island in the middle of a room, let the mob of thirsty punters engulf them, sit back and watch the sparks fly. Tonight’s event at The Coronet was a perfect example. Each band on the lineup, while sonically dissimilar, brought equal levels of energy, rage and humour to the proceedings, making for one of the most exciting, visceral pit parties to date.

For all the gushing praise heaped upon the ‘south London scene’, tonight’s opening acts really do prove that there’s something in the water down there. First up are four-piece Madonnatron, whose unique blend of vocal harmonies, eerie synth lines, overdriven guitar and pummeling rhythm section serves as a perfect entry point into the night. An ominous portent of the mania to come.

Warmduscher, who’ve been defiling ears, eyes and minds in the capital’s more lenient venues for some time now, are also on top form. “Ladies and gentleman! Ladies and Gentleman!” screams frontman Clams Baker, who can best be described as somewhere between a circus ringmaster and an acid-fried Baptist preacher. He sermonises on everything from ‘Lady Eggs’ to ‘The Sweet Smell of Florida’ as pockets of the crowd enter into a violent trance. He’s backed by the discordant handiwork of guitarist Saul Adamczewski, Ben Romans-Hopcraft’s airtight bass grooves, Jack Everett’s metronome drumming and some of the finest use of a Korg Monotron I’ve ever witnessed, and the combination is irresistible. New single ‘Big Wilma’ and the soulful ‘1000 Whispers’ hint at great things to come on their forthcoming Whale City album. It’s pure catharsis, a cleansing of the soul via the primitive and the bizarre. Their early gigs at The Windmill were incredible, and tonight in a much larger venue they manage to recapture the feeling of abandon and theatrics they’ve built their reputation on.

Next up are Future Of The Left, formed in 2005 from the ashes of the truly excellent Welsh noise-rockers Mclusky. They’ve maintained the concise, unpredictable riffery and wry, surrealist one-liners of singer-guitarist Andrew ‘Falco’ Falkous, while morphing into something weirder, funnier and even more disorientating. Unlike Warmduscher, Future Of The Left rely more on sonic intensity and less on flamboyant stagecraft. Julia Ruzicka’s booming, fuzzed-out bass tone is deafening, as is Falco’s half-spoken, half-shredded vocal delivery. His between-song quips about Morrissey’s probable Ukip membership keep the crowd laughing and an unexpected rendition of Mclusky classic ‘To Hell With Good Intentions’ makes for a supremely satisfying set.

Madonnatron (with Patrick Lyons) photo by Lou Smith

By the time Atlanta, Georgia’s Black Lips come on it’s safe to say levels of audience intoxication are peaking. The venue has reached capacity and the tiered layout of the room means the band are hemmed in from above like boxers in a ring. Black Lips’ most recent album, Satan’s Graffiti Or Gods Art?, has a broader musical palette than previous releases, which is perhaps why tonight, with the limited instrumentation of just two guitars, bass and drums, they stick to a thrashier set consisting mainly of older cuts. When they do throw in newer material, like the straightahead garage-punk stomper ‘Can’t Hold On’ and the beautifully wonky love-ballad ‘Crystal Night’, the audience reaction is frenzied and joyous.

Black Lips are a band who aren’t afraid of showmanship and even a few props. Rolls of toilet paper are produced and tossed around like streamers, thick plumes of smoke shroud the stage and midway through the set two anonymous figures appear from the shadows sporting giant papier-mâché heads painted in the style of Fluffer artist Russell Taysom’s distinctive flyers. The heads are quickly removed by the punters, thrown at the security, the band and anyone else within range. It’s a trashy, hedonistic, all-frills punk show and is all the better for it.

Accusations of gimmickry could easily be made by those yet to experience a Fluffer Pit Party but once you’ve witnessed the chaos and ecstasy these events can induce, any skepticism is swiftly cast aside. Sadly, as the perpetual tide of redevelopment sweeps through every square inch of the capital, The Coronet will soon be forced to close its doors. But, while we must say goodbye to yet another landmark venue, there’s still hope in the bands and promoters fighting the good fight. Long may they last.