FLATS – Bristol Cooler 12 March 2011

I first saw FLATS last year on the NME Radar, when they opened the bill for the Chapel Club and headliners Joy Formidable. In truth their early slot meant that the audience was sparse, but I was blown away by the sheer brutal nature of their music and the speed at which they attacked their songs. The whole set lasted 13 minutes and they left the stage to a screaming wall of feedback and in truth very little response from the punters who had by enlarge come early to catch the achingly cool Chapel Club. However, given their similarity to early punk band Discharge, I was hooked, so when they announced their own tour I was prepared to drag my sorry arse once again over the Severn Bridge to catch them in Bristol.

In the intervening time they seem to have garnered some interest from the less commercial radio stations and have their first single “Never Again” scheduled for imminent release. An interesting fact has surfaced in that lead singer Danny Devine, is in fact the son of Creation boss (and the man who discovered Oasis) Alan McGee. Whilst they have apparently fallen out, he seems to be a chip off the old block when it comes to being controversially outspoken.

He has made some rather uncomplimentary remarks about several more successful artists and seems to take a particular dislike towards anybody connected with the Mod scene. One song, “Rat Trap” contains a chorus liking Paul Weller to a part of the female anatomy and a section about Pete Townsend required editing to endure no legal action was taken against the band. However, the band seem to have an unexpected mentor in that Morrissey last week announced them as the support act for the first half of his next tour. Quite what the legions of Mozzas fans getting there early are going to make of them is open to question.

I was slightly perturbed when my Gashead mate got the tickets about a month ago to find they were numbered 1 and 2. However, given the bands recent publicity I was expecting a sizeable crowd for the last date on the tour. Unfortunately, that was not the case and in total the audience only just about scraped over the 50 mark, a sizable proportion of which seemed to be with the band. The running order had them down for a 45 minute slot, but given that they played only 10 numbers, I would guess they were only on stage for half an hour.

Well, what can I say? I guess if you like bands such as Discharge, Crass, Black Flag, Rudimentary Penis, Agnostic Front, Minor Threat etc, you will like them. If not then…er…. you won’t!

They played a few songs of the debut CD – “Lack of Stature” and “Are You Feeling Rusty” – but rather surprisingly omitted their most recognisable number “Mucky Pup”, a cover of the old Puncture number, which was originally made famous by being covered on the first Exploited long player in 1981. The rest of the numbers were unknown to me, but rest assured didn’t deviate from the bands mantra of all songs being fast, short, heavy and with Dan screaming the lyrics as loud as he can. Titles such as “Fast”, “Tango” “Ballet” and “Moonwalk” give little away, although I did recognize the aforementioned single “Never Again” which is sadly not a cover of Discharge’s song from the early 1980’s. The crowd was appreciative, if a little subdued, although matters did pick up when a stage invader seemed intent on picking a fight with Dan. But all in all, whilst I still enjoy their music tonight was a little, well, flat (pun intended).