Notting Hill Arts Centre and Camden Underworld, London
It's the second time in two weeks that we've caught up with Futon, the part Thai and part English electropunk outfit. Their debut CD, Never Mind the Botox, has spent considerable time on our playlist at home. It's sex-fueled beats have provided something of a respite to the darker strains of industrial and electronic music that reach us at Compulsion online.
Futon is the resident band of Rehab, a Bangkok club where members of Futon DJ. That wasn't what grabbed our interest though. Futon also marks the reappearance of Bee, the boyish good looking singer of Into A Circle and Getting the Fear. Back in the eighties, as a teenager, we'd travel the UK to catch Bee and Barry (and if we were lucky Rose McDowall too) perform their subversive brand of pop music. Genesis P. Orridge best described the work of Bee in Vague, the Televisionaries issue, as being immersed in "fuck" music. And over a decade later it's fair to say it's still fuck music that he's involved with.
Futon made their debut UK appearance at the Notting Hill Arts Centre with a short set taken from their thrilling debut Never Mind the Botox. It was a physical and enthralling performance that caught the audience off-guard. The electropunk of their debut single, a cover of the Stooges 'I Wanna Be Your Dog', has never sounded so urgent, so now. The line-up is flamboyant and sexually charged, especially given the Asian boy-girl singers of the band. And they bounce. The sleazy beats of 'Bangkok Chemist' and the cold electro of 'U Mean Nothing To Me' are sublime. Perhaps on their first outing the blatant 'Gay Boy' ("I don't wanna be straight. Football makes me masturbate") was perhaps too much for the ever so cool Notting Hill clientele. But fuck 'em, this was a beautiful introduction to the world of Futon. I would imagine this would have gone down a blast at NagNagNag and Electric Go Go the following evenings.
There's a keen sense of anticipation at the headline gig at Camden Underworld. The place is rammed, a mixture of those who have caught Futon on their recent London dates and hordes of friends waiting for their first taste of this Anglo-Thai sensation. And they do not disappoint.
Futon open with the bilingual strains of 'I Wanna Be Your Dog', complete with vocoder, and immediately set the place alight. Momoko and Gene Futon, the twin vocalists, take centre stage; heavily made-up, glamorous and a sexy as hell. The punked-up beats of the Stooges has the foursome bouncing with an unbridled sense of energy. Within a few tracks Momoko has stripped to her underwear with printed pants. Gene, like Bee, is brandishing a naked tattooed torso. 'Bangkok Chemist' a list of drugs, and creams is sung by Momoko and Gene. They constantly swap instruments and vocals but the energy levels never waver. 'U Mean Nothing to Me', a sardonic tale of one night stand sung by Bee to much swooning from the girls - and boys! Gene is so glamorous and so upfront. Bleach blonde tussled hair and a wiry frame of gold chains and feather boas. His voice ranges from soft croon to scream, as he wrestles with the microphone stand. Momo intones in a sultry voice, and screams like a vixen on 'Steak'. Her baby doll looks and antics enticing the males. They make an awesome front to the group. Bee hasn't really aged at all (that's botox for you!). A number of new tattoos, including a lovely spine tattoo is the only real difference. David Coker appears to be the musician that keeps everything in check, but even he takes lead vocal for 'Tokyo Sunset'.
Musically what do they sound like? Somewhere between the eighties electro sleaze of Soft Cell, hyper club glam with a punk rock sensibility. 'Fuck Machine' even appropriates the guitar riff of The Knack's 'My Sharona'. It isn't really as contrived as electroclash. Futon are as much a culture clash as it is a musical clash. Forget the Scissor Sisters who Futon will undoubtedly get compared to. This is the real art hedonism.
Futon oooze sexuality. Futon: fuck music for the 21st century.
All Photographs: Copyright Compulsion online not for reproduction without permission.
Futon - www.rehabisfab.com
Futon - www.xfuton.com