LIVE REPORT: Fat White Family At The Lexington

The Fat White Family are back and more magnificent than ever. Patrick Clarke witnesses their return at the first of two tiny Lexington shows

All photos by Lou Smith (YouTube/Instagram)

Queuing to get upstairs for the first of Fat White Family’s two tiny shows at The Lexington, a woman is asking desperately if anyone has a spare ticket. They sold out with a few seconds when they were announced, shortly after news emerged of the band’s third record Serf’s Up! and its glorious, soaring lead single ‘Feet’.

The sense of anticipation is colossal, but first of all Pregoblin play support. The everpresent Pat Lyons introduces them as the group of Alex Sebley, but forgets Jessica Winter, who joins him on lead vocals, much to the band’s ire. It’s a shame, as she’s their most commanding presence onstage, a dynamic and dramatic foil to Sebley’s giddiness. They care not for the sense of occasion that’s not really about them; Pregoblin turn their half-hour into a show that stands apart as every ounce their own, equal parts goofy and the coolest thing on earth. They close with ‘Combustion’, a shimmering banger for the ages.

That said, it is the Fat White Family we’re here to see, and expectations couldn’t be higher. It takes a moment for them to get going, but as soon as the looming, leering riff of ‘I Am Mark E. Smith’ crashes into earshot it’s pandemonium. It feels joyous as they and the crowd launch into the chorus, fists aloft in unison, but strangely emotional too, as if the Hip Priest’s ghost is in the room with us.

There’s a unique satisfaction to seeing the Fat Whites on this kind of form in such close surroundings, to take in the sight of Lias Saoudi at the centre of a seven piece who are stood in line on the tiny stage. He towers over the pit with a swagger and a grimace, while to his left Saul Adamczewski, dressed like a grizzled deserter from the Stalingrad Front, lays sleazy licks of electric guitar. They sound, and look, completely triumphant.

Part of this set reinforces the band’s status as established masters of magnificent and debauched guitar music. ‘Special Ape’’s greasy, wonky melody is as headspinning as ever, ‘Cream Of The Young’ has lost none of its sinister sleaze, ‘Tinfoil Deathstar’ is still bawdy, bonkers and brilliant, ‘Whitest Boy On The Beach’ is still irresistibly frantic, and the vicious, degenerate closing rendition of ‘Touch The Leather’ still sounds like a masterpiece.

It is the new material, however, that marks this set as something special. ‘Feet’ simmers and pumps with a glorious icy groove, while ‘Bobby’s Boyfriend’, unfurls a lopsided, creepy slowburner sung in unsettling unison by Lias and Saul. ‘Bobby’s boyfriend is a prostitute…. And so is mine’ they sigh together over a crooked country riff.

Then, there is ‘Tastes Good With The Money’. It starts familiarly enough, with the kind of killer kick of louche groove the band must by now be able to rattle off in their sleep, but then twists before your very ears into a stupendous, stomping, ginormous Glitter-glam anthem. Beefed up with blasts of saxophone and a stratospheric refrain, it might just be the best song they’ve written yet. This track in particular, along with all the band’s new music, marks a stunning progression, and the Fat Whites’ metamorphosis into a group whose creative vision has never felt more complete.

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