Live Review

Fuck Buttons, The Forum, London

More than a show, it’s a physical experience.

Two t-shirted men stand studiously over an extensive array of effects pedals and other music making machinery. It doesn’t sound particularly thrilling as a live spectacle. But when you know it’s a Fuck Buttons live show, you know it’s more than a show, it’s a physical experience. For one it feels like your ribs are being crushed by the sheer brute force of the sound. And it’s also shudderingly mesmerising. The songs are entities, loud and dense, taking hold of you and brutally and beautifully pounding you around the head.

Add to that the fact that, as Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power face each on stage, huge real-time silhouettes of the duo play behind them in bright and dazzling Technicolor, and it all adds up to something pulse-quickeningly spectacular.

The set seethes and shakes from the moment ‘Stalker’ shoots its electronic shards into your head. ‘Brainfreeze’ is unremittingly intense; drums blast, basses growl and it’s all augmented by Hung’s impossible to make out yelps. Two songs in and it already feels like your brain has been mangled by computers and spat out again.

But that’s the trick: Fuck Buttons are harsh and confrontational; but when in the middle of their storm you witness the primitive beauty of it all. Songs sound like they could be on an endless loop but you’re so engulfed in the world they’ve created that nothing else exists. And despite the immense heaviness there’s a blissful sensation of weightlessness. Take ‘Olympians’ with its steam engine percussion and its delicate beautifully woozy keyboard melodies makes it feel euphoric.

The epicentre of storm is when the startling ‘The Red Wing’ with all its rough urgency moves into the Olympic sized (and soundtracking) ‘Surf Solar’. The track’s warped beauty and bulldozing swagger, with phasers set to stun, mean the only reaction is to give in to it all. The power and thrust of the show is now at its optimum; you can nearly feel the floor shaking.

The grip doesn’t loosen. As they leave the stage after encoring with the by turns sweet and brutal ‘Sweet Love for Planet Earth’, the silence they leave behind is deafening. We leave too; ear drums destroyed, hairs still on end.

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