Another Tuesday, another gig at Madame Jojo's. Its been some time since I ventured down here - Im sure Ive been down here this year, but my last clear memory was Shit and Shine just before New Years... Maybe Crocodiles? God I dont know. The White Heat juggernaut continues unabated.
With the Tube striking fear into most commuters, it seems quiet..er than usual in Soho, yet Jojo's is pretty close to jammed when it comes to the close of support act Cymbals' set. We only catch the last few tracks, including one we featured at the beginning of the year, and they were fair to middling. They finished off with 'Summer Job' though, so a good closer.
Fang Island are a strange beast. It was clear from their self-titled album of this year (out through Sargent House), and even more evident upon seeing them live, that the Rhode Island band were created solely for a few guys who love - LOVE - to play guitar. Or moreso, two guys who love going fret crazy together, and another guy to pull all the moves on his own. The bass and drums are almost secondary to this fact - something of a Guitar Hero Live then.
Which isnt entirely fair, especially when it comes to the drummer Marc St. Sauveur. Looking like a ex-member of a Motorhead tribute band, St. Sauveur truly showed his worth tonight, keeping an incredibly tight and impressive beat to ensure that the rest of the group are reined in, which could be an integral necessity.
The core of Fang Island - guitarists Jason Bartell, Chris Georges and Nicolas Andrew Sadler - are avid guitarist noodlers. YOUNG avid guitarist noodlers. Therefore the sound of Fang Island is a hybrid of 80s hair metal fretboarding and O-face pulling, 90s indie college, and 00s hipster value. In other words - the perfect backing band for Andrew W K.
But it sounds like Im being a bit derogatory. No, sir! All of these elements combine to create an amazingly fun set. Sticking predominantly to their latest album, the set bursts out of the tracks and barely lets up for the entire hour. The only blip? The airing of a new track - it sounded too much like a 90s indie college rock song for my liking. Furthermore, it sampled a proper element of singing - in the past their 'singing' has been a mere addition to the sound, and is mostly chants. As a three force chant, the lyrics are impressive - but there is no clear lead vocalist, and this showed in the new track. But as mentioned, it was a mere blip on what was a strong energetic showing - despite the sailor shirts and hooded ponchos, these are guys who enjoy playing far more than they enjoy posing.
Finally, I have to pay mention to the final track they played last night - 'Treeton'. They did do a funky cover for the encore, but it was an anti-climax to this, a sprawling track that really showcased the schizophrenic nature of this party band. The opening was fast and furious, standard Fang Island shtick, before slowing down and the three-way chants added to a swirling rise in sound which was a lovely mirror of Sigur Ros-esque beauty and bombast, before exploding into once more frenetic guitar wielding before crashing down in an impressive crescendo of sound.
Old Blue Last are the next stop on this whirlwind band's list - tonight! - so go grab a ticket, its only a fiver, and enjoy.