Well, folks, it’s official – our big, dirty extended family is no longer making a scene in public. Don’t get me wrong – Fat White Family just about tore the walls down at Le Poisson Rouge. But for once, we didn’t literally walk away wearing ceiling plaster and fecal matter. Still looking remarkably clean cut (though sufficiently dystopian) after their head-shaving music video for “Whitest Boy on the Beach,” the boys were in fine form – as virile and confident as their incendiary music always has been. Appropriately, their noticeable maturation as a band coincides with the release of their newest LP, Songs For Our Mothers, which, even in title, sounds like the promise of a wayward child who’s really trying to get their shit together.
People are finally taking Fat White Family seriously – or, in the very least, taking them into consideration. Their newfound polish brought in an impressive fur-coat crowd on Tuesday night, including their self-proclaimed superfan, Lady Gaga, and steady collaborator Sean Lennon. And a little bit of refinement is a big deal for a band who recently posted a glaring full-frontal of guitarist Saul Adamczewski with the caption, “We’re trying our best” (and even managed to evade Facebook’s censors for longer than we’d been placing bets on). “Try harder,” joked one fan in the comments before it was removed. Oh, don’t worry. After battling some serious demons, not to mention all the hypercritical press that they’ve admirably ignored, the Peckham-bred punks seem stronger than ever. Or, as their own lyrics explain so nicely, “It started with a whimper, and then there came a bang.”
There was true punk show violence in the air as Fat White Family grooved through what was a fantasy setlist for their hardcore fans, including “Tinfoil Deathstar,” “Whitest Boy on the Beach,” “Is It Raining in Your Mouth?,” “I Am Mark E Smith,” “Heaven on Earth,” “Cream of the Young,” “Satisfied,” “Auto Neutron,” “Garden of the Numb,” “Goodbye Goebbels,” and “Touch the Leather.” Then they blew up their psychedelic set with the subversive “Bomb Disneyland” – which, brilliantly, is so damn catchy that the joke’s on us for singing along. Their insolence was intensified by frontman Lias Saoudi’s already-drenched chest and knack for popping bottles with his teeth. Equally eye-catching were the long cigarettes hanging from everyone’s lips onstage; ash amassing like mad during their sizzling builds.
Both Saul and Lias have been instigators of the band’s headline-grabbing mischief, which, as in the case of the dick pic, has always held a sort of perverse, trainwreck appeal for people. But Lias was seriously stirring as he screamed the lyrics we’ve come to love and sank coolly into the hands of the bloodthirsty crowd. As for Saul, his solo introduction to “Goodbye Goebbels” was not only disarming in its musicality, but poignant to the point of shaking their shticks altogether. What certainly hasn’t changed, though, is Fat White Family’s taste for steamy melodies and “sexual vertigo” lyrics, in which they take some of the worst inner thoughts a person could have and flash them as openly as their bodies. If we’re lucky, that’s one habit they’ll never break.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley