By Dylan McNally, Co-Deputy Music Editor
“You could be interviewing Jesus returned from heaven but you should still come to Fat Dog” was the text I received from a friend before Fat Dog played their first-ever headline show at Corsica Studios in London last year.
As it happens, I wasn’t interviewing Jesus. But I didn’t go. Instead I got my chance to see them a few months later, at a particularly raucous New Years Eve gig at The Shacklewell Arms, by which point it was very apparent that something was happening. Having built up a reputation for immense live performances, Fat Dog had very quickly become the talk of the underground scene in London. It was early days but by that point, either you had seen Fat Dog, or you were going to.
Since then, their reputation has only grown, and with support slots for the likes of Sports Team and Yard Act already under their belt, they were ready for a headline tour of their own. Strange Brew was the venue that would kick it all off; one of Bristol’s finest venues hosting one of the country’s best new bands. Support came from the ever-excellent New Eves, who are building up a bit of buzz themselves. It might’ve been a strange clash, musically, given The New Eves’ sound is more Avant-folk than techno-punk but I’ve never left a New Eves gig disappointed. This was no different and the rest of the crowd clearly agreed. There may have not been too many similarities music-wise but the New Eves, much like Fat Dog, have their own certain mastery of their sound and stage which anyone, and certainly a Fat Dog crowd, would be hard pressed not to appreciate. In fact, if anything we were probably lucky we were slightly eased into the evening given the intensity and chaos to follow – Fat Dog came on, the mosh pit started immediately and did not let up for the duration of the gig, and that was that. The night had truly begun.
From that point on it was a barrage. Of sound and of people. And it was brilliant.
In reality, there were two crowds at Strange Brew on the night. Those in the mosh pit and those watching it. And those in the pit were just as much part of the performance as the band themselves. But it isn’t just the crowd that’s intense with Fat Dog, the music is too. They have a sound that, like so many of their peers, is very hard to describe. Loosely it's a mixture of techno and punk but there’s influences from all over, and everything from dog masks to saxophones on stage. And you really feel it all. Most of the time, literally. It’s certainly bold but driving beats, heavy bass and an intense vocal performance makes for a pretty perfect mixture in this case. And for all this to be happening so early on in a band’s career is incredibly exciting; this is a band doing something genuinely new, and in doing so finding an audience that is more than receptive to it. That’s one hell of a combination and the potential possibilities are untold.
The whole night was a blurring of the lines between audience and performer unlike anything else. Band members were leaving their instruments mid-song to join in with the moshing in front of them and lead singer Joe Love spent most of the gig prowling around in complete control, directing and egging on the crowd before him like some sort of punk cult leader. Multiple times he instructed us to get on the ground as he waded through, reaching out and touching those lucky few like a preacher at a sermon. We were all eager to listen. And completely under his control. At various other points there were dog masks and hooded cloaks – it was a whirlwind of theatrics and a masterclass in stage presence, but not once did it detract from the music. It only ever enhanced it. And then, at once, it was over. The spell was lifted, the crowd slowly dispersed, and we could all breathe again. A chance for a little bit of reflection after such a frenzied evening. It might’ve felt quasi-religious at times, but really, as a friend said to me on the way out, this was better than mass.
Featured images: Dylan McNally
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