Fight Like Apes, The Minutes, The Wonder Villains
Five years after forming, Fight Like Apes are already well-known for their frenetic live performances and almost certifiably insane on-stage antics; you never know quite what to expect from them when they're dropped in front of an audience. Given all of this, the small crowd gathered in the Stiff Kitten, waiting impatiently for them to take to the stage, could be forgiven for expecting a rather wild night ahead.
First though, we are treated to a performance by Wonder Villains, led by Eimear Coyle and her squeaky, peppy vocals. They're a great choice of support for Fight Like Apes, with their own punky sound and hyperactive stage presence.
The Minutes, the second act of the night, also acquit themselves well. Lead singer, Mark Austin, seems a little disappointed with the lack of noise from the small audience, but the set as a whole sounds polished, and their choppy guitar-led sound is instantly likable.
After a short gap, finally, Fight Like Apes jump onto the stage. Lead singer MayKay shouts "1, 2, 3, 4" into the mic and, with that, they launch right into their set. They start off by playing a series of punk-pop gems drawn from across their two albums, including favourites like 'Tie Me Up With Jackets', almost back to back, with only brief pauses to talk the audience.
The fans eat it up, but unexpectedly, something seems to be a bit lacking about Fight Like Apes. The songs are all played well and the group certainly looks the part, with MayKay's hair perfectly styled for headbanging. However, some of the spark and relentless energy ATL has seen in the group before seems to have got lost somewhere outside of the venue. True, they're definitely not just going through the motions, but nor are they tearing across the stage and whipping the crowd into a real frenzy like they have done in the past.
Thankfully, further in some of their usual craziness begins to creep into the performance. At one point Maykay and a member of the audience bang two large metal poles together in time with the drums for no discernable reason. Towards the end of the set, Maykay and Pockets even chance a stage dive in the middle of a song, despite the small size of the audience.
Things calm down a bit again after that, but when the band leave the stage at the end, the crowd, still wanting more, immediately calls them back for one last song. A couple of minutes later, the last notes of 'Battlestations' are playing and the night is officially over.
It's been fun, and the audience seem to have enjoyed themselves, but nothing about this performance is likely to stick in anyone's memory for an overly long time, which is not something that can often be said after a Fight Like Apes gig.