HAPPY MEAL LTD.

Saturday, 22:00, Very Love Presents: Cultural Capital, Copeland Gallery 09/07/16

Down an alley in Peckham you’ll find the Bussey Building, around the corner from which sits the Copeland Gallery. Not knowing quite what to expect from the evening ahead, I had braced myself before getting on the overground, knowing full well that this night could either be really weird and/or really great or just really cringe. As it happens, it surpassed all these expectations. I must have gotten distracted by the yuppies sipping cocktails in the courtyard outside because when we got in I found myself totally unprepared for the first installation of the night i.e. a petite woman with a shaven head and closed eyes sat on the floor in what looked like a very uncomfortable position in front of me. Time to leave any inhibitions with the doorman and embrace this shiny bubble of art school utopia before it popped in my face.

VeryLove’s musical lineup was as eclectic as the art, with a mixture of DJ sets, bands and sound installations. Opening act Oscar Boyle- Think: The Birthday Party’s Nick Cave meets Heath Ledger’s Joker incarnate- was unrestrained, passionate, and probably on something. Joining Oscar on stage was his resident mover and shrieker, (also) wearing a suit and makeup, who captured the audiences attention with his provocative, angular steps and demanding vocals. Turns out the duo had only met that day, and the set was mostly improvised.

After Oscar Boyle came stellar performances from Cosmo Pyke and VeryLove. When the crowd cleared, the singer (Henry Chisholm?) of Happy Meal Ltd. could be seen clearing the area around the stage meticulously, making sure every dismembered mannequin and half-drunk can of Red Stripe was in the perfect position and not an inch out of place. I only mention this because during the band’s first song, Henry hurled himself into these pristine installations with a force that flung him off the stage and onto the floor. The rest of the band’s aesthetics were amazing, and again, clearly pre-meditated. Even the on-stage fight that was to break out later between its members seemed to exaggerated for effect.

As for the music, the whole thing felt like some sort of Bacchic revel. The frenzied repetition of lyrics, screeching guitars and out of the blue dnb breakdowns really made the audience lose their shit from the get-go. Stand out tunes included ‘Choo Choo’ and ‘Music’, the latter probably incorporating the most dnb out of the set. This innovative fusion of dnb/ dubstep and punk was evocative of Orange County twins The Garden in places. On the other hand, ‘Joanna’ was probably the most melodic number, featuring a ska jam in the guitars as Henry wailed about the violent murder of the subject. As the final song ended, the dub siren that had been a key feature in the last couple of numbers persisted and we realised that it had in fact been the Copeland Gallery’s smoke alarm the whole time, set off by copious amounts of both mechanical and man-made smoke. We took this as our call to leave and revel in the glory of the gig on the last train home. Three sad night busses later, the ringing in our ears was gone but in no way forgotten.

Obscene Art School Dandy Punk. Happy Meal Ltd. are a must see.

10/10

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