Live Report: Fat Dog – Electric Brixton, London

A blistering evening with the Domino breakout group...

Fat Dog are a propulsive new act in every sense of the word. Their sonic myriad of dance, punk, klezmer and sheer noise is dumbfounding, yet completely exciting. Fresh off the back of a dozen performances (yes, twelve) at SXSW in Texas, the band are swimming in confidence as their highly anticipated headline show at Electric Brixton approaches. It’s one of the south London quintet’s biggest hometown shows to date. Yet, as I have a chance encounter with lead singer Joe Love around the corner at the local pub pre-show, he couldn’t look any more unfazed. The prospect of shortly playing in front of 1,500 sweaty, intensely passionate gig revellers was met with an uber casual “yeah… it should be great.” Little was I to know, this was merely the calm before the storm.

Opening in ironically overdramatic fashion with the epic ‘O Fortuna’ from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Mancunian actor Neil Bell hypes the already frenetic young crowd with spoken word excerpts which build to a roaring crescendo. As Fat Dog take to the stage, the level of chaos grows incessantly. Johnny ‘Doghead’ Hutch leads the charge wearing a ‘more blacks, more dogs, more Irish’ t-shirt and a sweat-inducing German shepherd mask, of course. Love immediately throws himself into the crowd from the offset, before transitioning into ‘King of the Slugs’, one of the band’s two released tracks to date, and causing carnage in the process. His all white outfit and slick cowboy hat gleams on stage. His calm demeanour contrasts wildly with the sea of bobbing heads in front of him and looking like a bit of an odd mid-western pastor, it’s as though the band hold miracle-like properties to their worshipers bowing at the altar before them.

‘All the Same’ provides another big highlight. But having played both of their currently released singles so early in the set, what’s even more impressive is Fat Dog’s conviction in their entire catalogue of material. Sax player Morgan Wallace brings echoes of Black Country, New Road to the lineup with her danceable rhythmic lines and off-kilter shrieks. The audience’s energy shows no signs of slowing down, with mosh pit after mosh pit ensuing. And whilst it’s certainly calmer watching from the back, it becomes clear that there’s only one way to relish the full Fat Dog experience – to get involved.

Joining the now ocean of bobbing heads down the front, the band’s surprise cover of Benny Benassi’s ‘Satisfaction’ is impeccable. A series of hardcore numbers follow, lifting the temperature in the room up a few extra degrees in the process. One track with the repeated mantra “I’m in love with the world” offers a brief reprise with its surprisingly gentle feel before normal service resumes towards the closing tracks and Love’s gnarly vocals hiss through the speakers. Drenched in sweat, out of breath, their loyal crowd head out into the rain with exhilaration etched across their faces.

For music to stay fresh, new artists have to come along and truly shake up the scenes they inhabit. Fat Dog are doing exactly this. Full of countless bemusing sights and sounds like dog barks, dog masks and lobster claw hands, their Brixton show proves that they aren’t here to stick to the status quo. Right now, the world is Fat Dog’s oyster.

Words: Jamie Wilde

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