The annual roll call of indie rock’s latest darlings of the scene is back around again. The sustainable NME tour that features the most exciting bands of the year has brought us acts including Arctic Monkeys, Florence and The Machine, Crystal Castles and Coldplay with the intention of being the show that propels minor bands to fame and fortune. This year’s line-up carries on the grand tradition with driving force as four of the UK’s most hyped about bands take to the Institute.
An odd choice of headliner for this year’s awards, Palma Violet’s haven’t released an album in two years and also played the NME Awards in 2013 alongside Peace and Miles Kane, so some would assume that NME have been scraping the barrel this year. There’s no disputing that the Lambeth four piece sound great live, Chilli Jesson and Sam Fryer are clearly going for the Carl and Pete co-frontman scenario and in some ways it works. Or it would work if it didn’t look so forced. Unfortunately, for a band that emits the looks and cool, London attitude that will drag in the teen indie fans, there’s not much lying beneath the surface. They barely possess a worthy back catalogue of anthems, still somewhat riding on the wave of their one, true, greatest hit, Best Of Friends and their lairy, shambolic rock isn’t breaking anyone’s façade. Naturally, a hefty amount of the audience eat it up but things looked suitably better earlier on in the night when the primal energy of the “buzz bands” took to the stage.
In some ways it’s shocking that the replacement for The Amazing Snakeheads, The Wytches , weren’t asked to play in the first place. Whether they secure immense popularity in years to come or continue pleasing with their cult status, no one can deny the band’s talent and compelling, self-titled “surf-doom” charm. Long, black locks drape their barely visible face as the Brighton trio release their dark breed of psychedelia onto Birmingham’s bewitched crowd ensuing moshing aplenty.
The raucous, garage-punk delivery of Slaves keeps the audience on their toes as they pummel through tracks like White Knuckle Ride, Hey and latest single Feed The Mantaray. They’re hit and miss for most people but their abrasiveness is undeniable, making for a compelling live show.
However, the main focal point and best performance of tonight can only be awarded to the Fat White Family. Legend has it that the seven piece formed in a squat in Peckham and their main intention has been to “make our skin crawl” ever since. Disgustingly lecherous, lead singer Lias Saoudi drips with sweat as he moves like a contender for a padded cell, flailing his body to the music, screaming into the microphone and grabbing his crotch numerous times. At one point he jumps down into the crowd, who surge forward, as he drools and dribbles all over them. It’s pretty unpredictable what you’re going to get with Fat Whites. They really, truly don’t give a fuck. Their sleazy brand of guitar rock isn’t pinnable and even comparing them to another band seems prudish. With songs like Cream Of The Young and Mark E Smith attached to their setlist, no one else really compares in terms of tonight’s show. A mis-matched yet thoroughly enjoyable night.
Written by Harley Cassidy