Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Foz at FROG.

April 25th 2004
Mean Fiddler, WC2

In the interests of maintaining the impeccable standards of transparency and accountability that you've come to expect from WhoreCull, allow me declare that this anonymous review culminates in an unapologetic blurt of heartfelt enthusiasm for a remarkable solo oral rhythm stylist – who just happens to be our tireless webhost's wee brother, not to mention (following an evening's drinking prior to his taking the stage -- at 2:15am), a man of genuine stature and nobility whom I would be most honoured to consider my brief acquaintance. I speak, of course, of Foz, winner of a recent Radio One Beatboxing championship, performing for that tricky London crowd for the first time.

The event? An “alternative party” -- the first of its kind, supposedly -- in London's Mean Fiddler, inauspiciously named FROG. [NB you want more reviews from outside the Crapital? By all means, write em and send them to us!] Perhaps I should not have been surprised to discover that such a large number of people would turn out to a rock'n'roll night -- especially since I'd never heard of the headliners before. In the event, both floors of the venue were well filled with a youngish, well lubricated and enthusiastic crowd, the vast majority of whom were there to boogy to the eclectic playlist. It turns out that people have been churning out angular and/or jangly “alternative party” music for several decades now, and the DJs mined a satisfying seam of familiar and unfamiliar guitar-based confections and contrivances – the strength of their sets being their avoidance of both irony and nostalgia, just an attitude of “here are some bloody good tracks you should dance to”.

Headliners Hope of the States struck me as entirely competent, though not having heard them before I was unable to shake the sense that I was simply watching the next big epic, emotive Coldhead/Radioplay-style sensation (+ violin). Their videos, one of which was apparently too controversial for MTV (i.e. not another superpimp rape anthem), were impressively bleak – grey, miserable cartoons and disturbing shots of carpet bombers, displaced populations and other terrors of warfare. I wasn’t sure how to take this. Political statement? Intense spectacle? Welcome relief from all the irksome fun it had interrupted? Pretentious toss? Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, in lieu of having learned to love their music, which, I’ve no doubt, is eminently possible. At least a) it made you think about the relation between the atrocities continually committed in our name and (ahem) indie pop, and b) they didn’t use the clip of the Vietnamese guy being executed, over and over again in time with the upbeat, whilst people in animal costumes rather disrespectfully bopped about on stage (as is the Flaming Lips’s wont).

All bleak pretension was to be swept away shortly after HOTS shuffled off, with the emergence of the aforeshadowed Foz. No keyboards, fiddles or gloomy cinematic melodrama here – just this white lad from Nottingham in baggy, low-slung denim, his microphone, and his startlingly agile spliffhole. Bafflingly managing to produce bass, drums, tunes and vocal samples all at once, all the while scratching them on some imaginary decks, Foz’s exhilarating but all-too-brief set consisted of three minimixes, every sonic pixel of which was lapped up by the crowd, and amongst which were samples of DJ Shadow’s Midnight in a Perfect World and a drum’n’bass remix of the Grange Hill theme (both of which garnered huge cheers). At the end, he swaggered modestly off, pausing to shake some of the many outstretched hands, the organisers’ ostensibly ludicrous decision (beatboxing at rock'n'roll night??) triumphantly vindicated. By far the most danceable quarter of an hour of the entire night, with an overwhelmingly rapturous response from the audience, Foz’s performance demonstrated that it’s a form that, if done well, has unlimited appeal. It – and he – are going to be massive. PS Jamie Liddell’s a wanker.

The website of the FROG.
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