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April 5, 2011 / rocksandgravel

Review – Fight Like Apes @ Bull and Gate

Going Deaf For A Living is a night compeered by Steve “Lamo” Lamacq, whereby the bands he has been championing on his 6 Music radio show are carefully selected to play at the night. You all know the deal with Lamo, like him or loath him, to put it mildly he knows what he’s doing. The one band I am particularly keen on seeing tonight are Fight Like Apes. Now, I’m going to be honest- I have my preconceptions about this band and I want to hate them. A lot of bands who claim to be “mad” and “crazy” tend to come across as slightly, well, fake. But then, the proof is in the pudding, and these guys are renowned for throwing themselves around their sets with wild abandon, and like they mean it.

By the time I make it, the first act has started – a melancholic post punk band. You know the drill, muffled vocals and thrashing guitar riffs. The final song has the lead singer keeled over and slamming out chords like he has serious issues, and then “Thank you!” The second act, Standard Fare, are an adorably shy 3 piece who’s smiles at the floor make them appear scared to admit they’re having fun. The girl, whose face is strategically draped by an over grown fringe takes the lead and hits the bass. Her voice is quite raw yet innocent enough, while the equally shy boy coyly takes backing vocal duties. Even Lamo’s singing along between swigs of his pint.

A swift drink and it’s already gone 10. “It’s time for anarchy, mayhem and rock and roll” Lamo has spoken. Cue the crash of feeding-back guitars as Fight Like Apes take the stage. Maykay, the lead singer’s hair is massive and banshee-like, as is the shriek of her voice at the start of ‘Do You Karate’. In stark contrast, the guitarist looks on blankly, and quickly retorts with a slurry of effing and blinding when an inaudible slur comes from the crowd.

As the set progresses, a strange transformation takes over the crowd. Somehow a room full of polite adults and (probably) one or two industry people has been turned into a bunch of boys who find it oh so amusing just to bang into each other. It turns out they’re pissing the band off a bit. Maykay stands, hands on hips in a surprisingly stern matriarchal fashion whilst warning some of the more rowdy memer of the crowd to “calm down a bit”.

Have they changed that much? “Now we’re on our 2nd album, we’ve had to get haircuts, and we’ve bought tracksuits” and nasal plasters, it would appear. They also do covers now. “This is probably one of the best songs… ever”. Oh Jeez. I was just starting to like you. I definitely wasn’t expecting Salt N Pepa’s ‘Push It’, and it kinda works. Maykay is headbanging to the point of facial distortion, millimetres away from impaling her face on an instrument. Meanwhile, a guy fancies his chances at crowd surfing and is unceremoniously slammed into the ground, and it’s not just me who’s stifling a laugh.

After another stern behavioural warning to the front, Jamie (keys) hops off stage. He brings with him a ladder, and assembles it in the middle of the crowd so that him and Maykay can create a beat from banging crates together, leading into “Jake Summers” an ode to the leather jacketed “dude” from California Dreams.

Maykay heads into the crowd she’s been cussing all night and addresses the main perpetrator with a lyric “Hey, you, know your place” and gives them a chance on the mic for a word or 2, followed by a swift shove away. Later in the song comes possibly the most satisfying lyric in the form of “Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck”.

You know what? These guys are an acquired taste, but the fact is, they blew the previous two acts out of the water tonight. Maybe it’s just refreshing for me to see bands being active on stage, or maybe I just really appreciate a head bang now and then. Whatever the reason, I’m longing for the next gig when I will bring it out in full force a la Maykay.


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