Fat Creeps, Hurricanes of Love -BUFU Fest 2014 – Elks Lodge, Cambridge – April 26

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Gracie Ellen is elegant in maroon cardigan, hair up in a bun. They open with a bouncy, sinister number, the first on their recent album. It goes into high gear, and people start dancing. Mariam Saleh is more mysterious, dark, with a black top. Gracie has a hypnotic guitar style, which reminds me of Bernard Sumner of New Order. Funny, for all that Fat Creeps is a kind of candy punk group, they have these traces of Britpop. Next number chugs like a subway train. Then it gets poppy like The Lemonheads. This is simple music, but it is intricate, with quick but seamless transitions from motif to motif. The vocal harmonies are eerie and ethereal. Serene landscapes are strafed with shot. What about the guy dancing with no shirt? He’s up onstage. Part of the band, I guess; very British like the stuff Happy Mondays used to do.

Interesting accord between guitar and bass. Mariam’s bass is very lively. Sparse, but with peppery surprises which shift Gracie’s guitar lines in slightly different directions. Or is that an illusion? Makes it more fascinating. Now it’s like something out of Tommy, with the spacey fuzz guitar and angelic harmonies. Wild Live at Leeds freakout. So theses girls get into heavy rock and psychedelia too.

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Frank starts with some lovely fingerpicking, after some gritty rap, which he continues after the sequence. You never know where you’re going to go with these narratives, so it’s scary, even though they’re funny. Ivor Cutler comes mind, with his Scottish song /story stuff. But Hurricaine’s from the South, so this is much more wild. Now he’s talking about a Mennonite thrift store. It’s absolutely nuts. Chi-Raq, things are really tripping there now. Spiritual angel dust. Light picking the while. “That’s what this next song’s about” – he says that every time, and the song’s invariably about something completely different. “We’re going to make love under that holy moon”… Moses Lake Blues. “O that water flows in a strange design, and so does your life.”

Last tune, precisely 6:16, the number of the beast… Thinkin’ ’bout that waterfall coming down the hill – the music rolls and swirls, grand. His hair tosses wildly as he strums brutally hard, and he wails. He’s just like a whirling dervish, except he’s sitting down. He’s as holy as a Sufi.

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