Can things get any weirder?...
Hundreds of Hells Angels raise clenched fist salutes to Chairman Mao. And leading the tribute are the [a]Alabama 3[/a] irony cowboys, who are actually from Brixton, South London. Can things get any weirder?
At the Angels‘ annual bash, dangerous sports, live porn and gut barging contests meet rock ‘n’ roll – or something vaguely similar. Of course, we sample the lot.
There’s more than a smattering of people in the gargantuan beer tent by the time The Almighty come on. At first, the serious-looking crop-topped hardcore bunch play something that sounds like an ugly fusion of Black Sabbath, Bon Jovi and the Sex Pistols all in one. But suddenly they bring on stacks of industrial, thrash distortion for newie ‘Broken Machine’ – one that strikes a chord with many here. It’s powerful, but ultimately safe, artificial. So average.
And now for something completely different. [a]Alabama 3[/a]’s keyboardist is dressed for the Grand Ole Opry, but she’s more inspired by the sub-bass roar and static acidic electronica of Brixton. The peculiar mesh of steel guitar and happy-clappy four-four beats trawls through, surprisingly, a gamut of genre. “She don’t dance the techno, any more,” The Rev D Wayne Love weeps, as a twang collides with a bleep.
In front of a Hells Angels backdrop, Fun Lovin’ Criminals frontman Huey appears bathed in golden light. He’s clean shaven, dapper, just like Al Capone, Robert De Niro and Sinatra rolled into one. Beaming, he applauds the crowd applauding him, and makes a speech like a Godfather at a blood wedding.
His story-telling rap is backed by slick-as-olive-oil bluesy hip-hop. FLC are so versatile, they can spring effortlessly from punk rock to Broadway balladic vaudeville, amid telling East Side Noo Yawk jokes and tales in an accent you can’t understand.
FLC play to a crowd of hard-playing good-timers, perhaps their ideal audience. A perplexing melting pot of musical styles all raises a hearty cheer, which ups to howling pitch when the band plays crowd-pleasers like ‘Scooby Snacks’ and ‘King of New York’.
Excusing their ultra-cool exterior, the smooth, snaky rhythms and tremulous guitar solos of the Criminals are feverish excursions into the dark, dank core of the city. It’s raw, yet refined, dreamlike yet bolt-upright. Possibly like nothing else in this world.
Time to exit before the wet T-shirt contest commences. It could get out of hand.