We are gathered here, in a nondescript industrial estate in Bow on a drizzly early December afternoon, to mourn the passing of Fluffer, the East London label behind the Custard Thruster all-dayers and their predecessors the Fluffer Pit Parties. Consistently excellent in their line-ups as they were chaotic in their frenzied moshpits, Fluffer nights have been as close to a guarantee of a good time (and a bout of tinnitus in the morning) as any London promoter could offer.
The honour of opening proceedings fell to East London four piece The DAs.
They were followed by Joyzine faves DOLLS, whose infectious enthusiasm and driving power chord grunge-punk tunes are a perfect wake-up call for those in the crowd still adjusting to the early hour.
Third act Savage Mansion had travelled all the way from Glasgow to share their power pop sound.
They were followed by Yorkshire quartet Mush. Making their London debut, their sound drew heavily on American alt. rock and grunge influences.
The fact that tonight was billed as a Christmas special seemed to have passed most of tonight’s bands by. Not so Average Sex, whose guitarist sported a light-up Christmas jumper that was every bit as sparkly as their indie pop tunes.
Dead Coast opened their slot with a haunting wooden flute, setting the tone for the expansive countrified rockabilly soundtracks that typified their sound.
Where Dead Coast were filmic and expansive, Peckham five-piece Yowl take the short, gut-punch route to imprint our vital organs with their garage rock tunes.
As the night begins to draw in and the alcohol starts to flow from the makeshift bar, Dead Pretties rip through a scintillating set of grungey punk rock. The London trio have been picking up a lot of column inches recently and it’s not hard to see why.
And whilst by normal gig standards much of what has transpired tonight might be considered wild, And Yet It Moves, the new band of Amazing Snakeheads frontman Dale Barclay, have arrived to redefine our understanding of the word. Dressed in bad guy black and topped with a Stetson, Barclay and his acolytes drive the crowd into a frenzy that threatens to rip the tin roof off the bunker that serves as tonight’s venue. Before long Barclay enters the whirling maelstrom of bodies, guitar and mic in hand, sparking yet more chaos, then leaves us walking off into the darkness with his instrument slung over his back.
How any band is supposed to follow that would have remained a mystery had it not been for long-term Fluffer accomplices God Damn, who are not averse to a little mayhem of their own. Ash remains one of the most entertaining drummers to watch, his corkscrew hair flailing as he pummels his kit to the verge of submission, while Thom spits and scowls, thrashing mutilated sounds from a guitar hooked up to one of the most complex pedal boards I’ve seen in a long time. Picking up where Barclay left off he roams the audience, scales the speaker stacks and ends the set surfing the crowd as tonight’s long-suffering security team struggle to hold back another surge towards the stage.
It’s well past 1am by the time the cramped room is filled with smoke for the arrival of our final act, Dressmaker. Lit by a single white strobe light, they conjure waves of dissonant noise over a solid groove, causing another charge in the crowd which send one audience member sprawling across David Lopez’s guitar pedals, killing his instrument instantly. You get the impression that this isn’t the first time this has happened as frontman Charles Potasher joins Ben Jack at the drum kit to bash out a hypnotic rhythm as we wait for the guitar to be restored. Once it is things only get crazier, with a riotous pit reacting to every distorted note. It ends with a smoke machine unloading into a fan’s throat and a confrontation between singer and soundman as the live curfew is reached.
RIP Fluffer nights, you will be missed.