James Witherspoon catches the good, the bad, and the ugly at First Fifty.
Crammed into the black lit basement of Shoreditch’s eminent Kamio, the attendees of late November’s First Fifty gig were perhaps unaware of what to expect. Four bands, of certainly varying quality, were to be presented onstage as an indicator of the tone of May’s Great Escape festival in Brighton. It certainly made for an interesting night.
First on were the fantastically loud Eat Fast, who played a rollicking and energetic set to a rather small turnout compared to the later artists. Exuding charisma, the band blasted through their current biggest tracks, including Public Display of Affection – a particularly energising song that makes quite the impact played live, setting the crowd up for what was to come.
This was swiftly followed by Husky Loops (great name), who provided the peak of the evening’s musical talent with a delightfully weird, psychedelia tinged set. Indeed, from the audience’s response, and the kind words of Eat Fast, it appears as if the Loops are already a steadfast fixture on the indie scene. Decidedly loud and unapologetically hyper, much headbanging ensued to a mix including much-hyped (by publications including Vice’s Noisey) Dead, and Fighting Myself. With such charisma and an ability to command the crowd and compel the audience with their every move, it’s a shame that the crowd had still not grown to a level which this incredible performance deserved. Definitely the highlight of the night; a band to watch in the future.
Unfortunately, as I had previously reported, this was definitely the peak of the evening, and what was to follow were two alternately awful and bland performances which I hadn’t expected from the headliners of such a promising event.
First up on the slow descent were the ultra-hyped Abattoir Blues. Combining a sort of immature and underdeveloped teenage punk guitar-rock with out-of-tune screaming does not constitute talent in my book, yet this is exactly what a substantially larger crowd was treated to with the Blues’s set. Indeed, it seemed reminiscent of a bored old drunk howling insults at a crowd of young partygoers at 3am on a Sunday morning. Of course, it didn’t help that frontman George acted half asleep, and slurred vague depressed statements to the spritely crowd in-between songs. A huge disappointment given that I’d expected so much from them.
Shortly before the final act, Indigo Husk, entered the venue, an influx of annoyingly loud drunk teenagers that looked about 12 smashed their way into the venue, and began to wildly prepare for what I assumed was going to be a colourful assault on the senses. Unfortunately, this didn’t turn out to be the case. I think the best way to describe it would be a combination of the worst recesses of pop-punk, with an overly cocky Justin Bieber type as frontman. And, yes, as you can imagine, it was torturous. At least Abattoir Blues had done something semi-original, as bad as it may have turned out, but Indigo Husk played a tremendously boring, bland, white-bread type set that had most of the audience reeling in confusion (while the rowdy group at the front were headbanging in a mosh pit like it was some hardcore punk or 90s grunge). The whole affair felt a little forced and stale, leaving a sour taste in the mouth – especially after the two opening acts.
All in all, with a beautifully unique venue, and two excellent acts, this First Fifty performance was a success. It is a shame, however, that the second two bands really didn’t live up to the hype of their predecessors. It’s also a bit worrying that the act that brought in the crowds, and of young people, was perhaps the least inspired and least unique artist I’ve heard in quite some time. I definitely recommend checking out Husky Loops live, you won’t regret it! You win some, and you lose some, eh.