You have to admire their dedication. In eight hours time, Fight Like Apes will be boarding a plane to Texas to make their first visit to SxSW in eight years. There’ll be a lot of that in 2015, making up for lost time. Instead of spending the night packing, however, the band are getting back into gig shape with an intimate engagement at the Sugar Club. They look fighting fit, focused on the task ahead – not only in the immediate days but when their third album finally arrives in May.
All of which means everything that we’ve come to expect from a FLA show – spirited, dark pop tunes played with chaotic charisma. The musical extras (brass, vocals) evident at their underwhelming HWCH headliner are missing but for now that doesn’t matter, as the pairing of Mary and Jamie is all this gig needs. Their first and forthcoming records receive the most attention, resulting in a set that has become familiar over the past couple of years, yet – as the bass intro to ‘Jake Summers’ prompts mania on the dancefloor – it’s fine. This is Fight Like Apes being great at being Fight Like Apes. It has stood them well tonight, and indeed for nearly ten years. If they’re to return to their previous status, however, they’ll need to give us more, a sense that the five year wait has been worth it. Don’t bet against them.
Bitch Falcon are where the headliners were seven or eight years ago, a band with a discernible buzz building around them. They’re handling it well, playing a series of key gigs at a time (including three memorable State shows), developing their live persona and then disappearing to work on the studio side. It’s an approach that’s paying off, as the quartet are distilling their raw power into something quite brilliant. Little touches are starting to appear, from squalls of guitar effects to surprisingly light harmonies on an impressive new song. They could still do with developing more of a rapport with their audience but that’ll surely come, as will a time when it’ll be them leaving on a jet plane. We look forward to having them back again.
FLA photographed for State by Olga Kuzmenko.