As Crawdaddy filled up for Fight Like Apes, there was a definite sense of anticipation. It felt weird, like on of the landmark shows people talk about – The Smiths in the Hacienda or Radiohead at Glastonbury 97 or whatever. The room was heaving. They played at the same time as the Concretes, but I can’t imagine even having given half a thought to seeing that. It was like a big fight or something. Like when Bernard Dunne fought Kiko. It wasn’t the title fight, but if he fucked it up (which he did) it was back to square one. Luckily, Fight Like Apes were not knocked out by a Spaniard in the first round. The opposite, really. Gig of the weekend.
There are three main things that I would note if I was seeing Fight Like Apes for the first time (rather than the second time). The first: they don’t use guitars. Without hearing them, you’d immediately start to think of shit new rave bands or boring atmospherics. But it’s not like that. It’s definitely indie rock, it’s Elephant 6 on punk rock tablets. The second thing: they’re really loud. They use synths. Tech bit: synth synthesise sound. So they use the full wave instead of just whatever comes out, like in a guitar. So when you play a synth loud, it’s like a wall. Which is the great thing about Fight Like Apes. They sound like a wall. The third thing about them is just that they look mad, which again is partly a result of not using guitars and being able to dance around in a visually different way.
All of that is pointless talk though, so ignore it. The reason Fight Like Apes blew away Hard Working Class Heroes is because they have really catchy songs which they play really loud. They have flippant songs like Canhead (which I nearly lost my voice screaming) and they have serious songs like Battlestations. They have Lend Me Your Face, “114 of Irish contemporary music’s most celebrated seconds”, universally recognised and easy to appreciate. But Jake Summers is the best. It just is. The way it’s put together. The words. It’s one of those golden apples of pop music. I hope Fight Like Apes become the next U2 and I can tell people I was in the front row for them twice and saw May Kay burp while introducing a song, and fall over while rocking out in heels. They were definitely better than most of the touring bands I’ve seen in the past year. They’re probably better than we deserve.