The queue for Fight Like Apes biggest London headliner to date is snaking around the corner and down the street. Given that we’re talking about Koko, a high profile venue with a capacity of approaching 1500, this is no mean feat. Admittedly, the band are here as part of the weekly Club NME night and an evening of live music is clearly not uppermost on the mind of the post-pub crowd waiting in the cold. Once inside, State is greeted by a mass of youth. The lads are already on the dancefloor downstairs while the succession of balconies are thronged by Peaches Geldolf look-a-likes in short skirts, sucking their drinks through straws and taking pictures of each other on their mobiles. This, then, is the NME readership in 2009. It’s a long way from the days when Danny Baker, Steve Lamacq and Stuart Maconie were at the helm.
Yet these are the circles in which Fight Like Apes move these days. Two days before, the magazine had given their album an overwhelmingly positive review (including an image from Richard Gilligan’s State shoot), dubbing them anti-emo. They could have easily used the phrase anti-indie too. This place is the lyrics of ‘Something Globa’l come to life. Support band Low Line rumble through their indentikit tunes in indentikit black outfits before the DJ spins some indentikit indie records. At this point you start to wonder just how this is going to go down, whether Fight Like Apes can work when faced with a crowd who simply might be waiting for the new Kings Of Leon single.
They open, as they do in these situations, with You Are The Hat – a challenge for the audience to either notice them or piss off. They get noticed. In fact, they are adored. People know the words, a mosh pit forms and when Mary Kate heads into the crowd in Jake Summers, she is literally mobbed. You have to keep reminding yourself that this is not their home town but London, where indie bands are two a penny and audiences are notoriously hard to please. What it is is evidence that all that hard work, those support tours and the willingness to play wherever would have them (including many regional Club NME slots) has paid off big time.
Their set itself is short and sweet but showcases their wares perfectly. There are no surprises but then again, why should there be? It is clear, though, that Fight Like Apes are set to be as big a shot in the arm of the UK alternative scene as they have been over here, more so even. With their album getting its release this week, this is the point where their career is ready to face its next big test. This particular audience seems to be theirs for the taking but it will only get them so far and perhaps stay with them for only so long. For Fight Like Apes to truly pull this off they need to spread their message further and wider. For now, though, they’re off to a flying start.