After traipsing around Great Portland Street, passing many lively pubs and some great street performers, I found where I was supposed to be, the venue, 229.
The entrance was a tunnel that slopes into the ground below pavement level — a sub-pavement grotto. This portal was guarded by a tall man swaddled in a thick black coat and beanie hat. Our encounter was reflective of that between the ugly troll and the smallest billy goat in the tale of the of the three billy goats gruff. “Can I see some ID?” he growled, doesn’t he know WHO I AM? As an almost automatic response, I handed him my dishevelled passport and went on my merry way. After all, the grass is greener on the other side.
A wall of heat enveloped me as I trotted down the stairs into the unknown. My friend Elli, who was putting on the event pulled me towards her magnetically for a unious embrace. My free ticket in. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know — by the way…
The venue was dark, as you would expect, you know, being underground.
One side of the room was padded back to back with brown, ramshackle couches with a coffee table between each — water stains apparently being part of the interior design. The other side sported a bar supplying heavily overpriced lager (£4.50 for a pint of Carlsberg I’ll have you know). It’ll be a tap water for me thank you, sir.
A low standing stage is slotted in the top corner of the room next to the entrance, so when you arrive your eardrums are instantly scorched with fiery blasts from the speakers. Convenience is great, I didn’t want functioning ears anyway. It’s great banter having to say “What?” about five times after someone speaks.
Fast forward about two hours from my arrival and I’m two drinks in (a rum and coke and a pint of Carlsberg, IF YOU MUST KNOW). My First Moustache (MFM) are finding their feet on the shallow stage.
Some space had opened up between them. The stage was not as cramped as it was since I last saw them, in fact it looks rather empty. This could partially be explained by the fact that the stage I last saw them on was going on microscopic, but it was apparent that members were missing. Two members are gone, and only one has been replaced. You know what they say, if they’re slowing you down, cut them off. Or in the case of MFM, let them fly away to Amsterdam to go and study art.
I can’t think of the words to describe them. MFM are Jack’s racing pulse. MFM create a rampage. They perfectly capture the essence of a stampede of elephants being preyed on. Their sound is utterly outrageous. My eardrums were blown away— hello permanent tinnitus. I stood on a table to try and escape the ruckus happening below me as ‘lads’ lads’ bombed and darted around the room smashing into each other like a group of juggernauts and rhinoceroses.
Despite being experts of exhilarating, face-melting guitar riffs and complex drum rhythms, I would say that MFM are quite the musical chameleons. Their setlist leaps from hardcore to something along the wavelength of dream pop and I simply could not keep up with it. One minute I wanted to punch everyone in the neck, the next I just wanted a good cuddle and chocolate covered strawberries.
Once their had finished their set (I don’t know how they knew they were finished as they had no setlist), the crowd roared for more. A little peer pressure never hurt anyone, and they succumbed. Having run out of songs to play, they opted for a very jazz, improv, “jam” type thing. For me, this made it clear who wears the trousers and what the state of the inter-band relations are. I almost felt bad for the new guitarist who was utterly excluded from this three-way bonding session between the lead singer, drummer and bassist. He just stood there awkwardly trying not to make it obvious that he had no idea what was going on, but this was pretty clear. He almost melted into the background. To be honest about it, that was probably the best for him as their little “jam” was nothing to boast about. It was long boring and repetitive.
It was nice to see them smile were nice though.