It’s been a while since we last entered the chaos of a Fluffer Pit Party, and they’ve come a long way in the interim. Recently re-launched after a year off, tonight’s show sees the venue switch from a smaller warehouse location in Hackney Wick to a smoky Dalston ballroom, flavoured with nostalgic touches including an immense chandelier which hangs to the rear of the stage. The names on the bill are bigger too, with headliners Deap Vally riding high on the plaudits rightly heaped upon their second album Femejism. This does come at some cost – the 360° set-up that lends these shows such a different atmosphere from any other on the London circuit is fenced off, and the bands raised up on square stage in the middle of the room, rather than on the floor amidst the crowd. Going on the carnage of previous shows this may well be for our own safety as much as the bands.
First up tonight are Yassassin, a London based five-piece featuring members of The History of Apple Pie, Bonfire Nights and LUST who pound out a melange of new wave, grunge and indie pop that at its best sounds like Bikini Kill covering Breeders.
One of the interesting parts of the Pit Party concept is how bands choose to set themselves up onstage. Yassassin opt to face inwards, which means that whichever of the four sides of the stage you choose to watch from, you spend most of your time watching someone’s back, which makes it a little harder to connect with the murky sounds oozing from the speakers, so it’s a relief towards the end of the set when the band break from their positions and crank up the energy levels.
Second act, Danish trio Baby In Vain are making their second Pit Party appearance, and have added some interesting new strings to their bow since the stoner thrash of their previous visit. The most obvious addition is an eerie sci-fi synth edge on a couple of tracks, and there’s some great interplay between the two vocalists, one a breathy purr, the other a throaty roar.
The 360° stage offers the chance to watch from angles you wouldn’t normally see and one of the joys of the show is getting a closer look at drummers, usually hidden away in the shadows at the back of the stage. Bene Pierleoni, behind the kit for Baby In Vain, is clearly having a whale of a time and her enthusiasm, along with her driving beats, is absolutely infectious.
And then it’s time for the night’s main event – Deap Vally launch into a set that encompasses the bulk of their two albums of bare bones bluesy garage rock, with every word sung back at them by an enraptured crowd. Drummer Julie Edwards is a pink-haired blur as she writhes around her kit, beating out fills and bassy pulses while glitter-smeared singer Lindsey Troy rips buzzing riffs from her guitar and belts out her lyrics in a searing rock howl.
Returning to the stage for a triumphant, confetti-strewn encore, which ends with a foundation shaking rendition of ‘Royal Jelly’, we’re left sweating and satiated.
With further shows headlined by Spring King, Japandroids and Black Lips already on the verge of selling out, more and more people are embracing the chaos of Fluffer Pit Parties – get involved now at facebook.com/Fluffer-PIT-Parties.
Words and Pictures by Paul Maps
Video Footage by John Clay of Clark Kent’s Rock & Roll Revue