Arts Reviewing, Music Review

La Femme et Londres: When French surf punk comes to Scala

Originally published on Fuse Magazine UK
29 May 2014

lafemme

There’s something really magical about being trapped in a mosh pit of belligerent Britons and being mercilessly jostled to “psycho tropical” French surf punk — especially if you’re stuck with limited linguistic proficiency and no idea what the fuck anyone is saying.

La Femme, if you couldn’t have guessed by the name, are an impossibly hip Parisian band that write most of their lyrics in native tongue – not that it really matters.While you can expect most of a ‘Femme crowd to be fluent in French and proudly singing along, the band puts on such a raucous, sensory-overloaded show that you don’t entirely need to understand the words to have a killer time. Let me put it this way: in the course of one night, I experienced

  • no less than 3 keyboards at a time, pounded with abuse you’d never think keys capable of taking
  • bongo solos by a lucha-masked multi-instrumentalist
  • a keyboardist jumping/spinning/hardcore dancing so intensely he fell over three times in less than ten minutes
  • a possibly bottle-blonde male frontman/keyboardist (with ridiculously nice abs, mind you) picking up his set of keys off the stand, holding them like a keytar and mashing away his own wild keyboard solo

There’s so much to explain that one cannot possibly do justice to in writing, but all in all the juxtaposition of brash, unbridled and borderline destructive punk enthusiasm coupled with rich, accented vocals and a single female lead singer swaying glamorously amidst the chaos like only a self-assured European woman could is striking and quite awe-inducing. Even potential negatives like Scala’s at-times painfully over-darkened and over-smokemachined ambience worked poetically with the riotous atmosphere.

La Femme is currently touring Europe, and since the end of London uni is drawing nigh, you owe it to yourself to catch the band live somewhere else in the EU. Two tips: 1) brush up on your French so you can enjoy “Antitaxi,” “Sur la Planche” and “Nous étions deux” in all their linguistic glory, 2) wear thick shoes, and when you come out of the concert with a few bruises/questionably damaged toes – chalk it all up to the punk experience. It happens.

Oh, and if you need further convincing, Yves Saint Laurent thinks La Femme is cool.

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