"We don't want anything spindly," said Future of the Left guitarist Andy Falkous during the offhand sound check before his band's gig at DC9 on Sunday. It was a bit of a wisecrack, since few soundmen on the planet could reduce the gut-punch roar of the Welsh trio to wispy tones. And while the 45-minute set didn't feature the razor-edge transitions found on their pair of dizzyingly great albums, there was ample compensation in the show's sweaty energy and wicked humor.
Much of the former and latter came from bassist Kelson Mathias, whose between song jabbering picked up the slack from the slightly subdued Falkous (who complained of a head cold). But there was no letdown in the music: like the work of Falkous and drummer Jack Egglestone's previous outfit, McLusky, FOTL songs attack with blistering rock guitar riffs and pummeling drums. But where McLusky was a screaming banshee, FOTL is a naughty, nimble giant, crushing listeners not only by stomping on their heads but by poking them until they pop.
During the riveting, well-balanced set, peaks came in the pedal-down clamor of "Chin Music" and "Stand by Your Manatee," as well as the strutting "You Need Satan More Than He Needs You" and the stuttering synth wiggle of "Manchasm" (which followed Mathias imploring the crowd to loosen up with, "Let's pretend we're not in D.C.!"). And while the one-liners flew fast -- Coney Island, Weezer, Manchester and Michael Jackson were all skewered -- the real brilliance came when FOTL dug into something like "adeadenemyalwayssmellsgood," mixing passion, guts, intelligence and raw power in a way that actually signaled hope for the, um, future of rock music.
-- Patrick Foster (July 2009)