The Shacklewell Arms
Save for an old electronic keyboard and a delay pedal that makes singer Kamal’s vocals ping-pong out of the room, Flamingods don’t do instruments with wires. Nor do they do chairs. A five-piece from South London, they sit and squat, huddled together on the floor, surrounded by bongos, maraca-like objects, the odd dented steal drum and things to either shake or hit, but mainly hit. By the end of their beaty din, all members will have smashed sticks on skin, accompanied by someone else doing the same. Judging by their boyish grins and waves to the audience to signify the end of each Afro jam, and by their cute group bow at the end, this might be their first show, or their fifth, or their one thousandth. It’s hard to tell because Flamingods are seemingly a very organic bunch, interested in the excitement of rolling drums (and Casio tones) rather than how schooled they can be in sinking their patterns. Watching them is completely enthralling, as long as you can get close enough to the front to see the floor. And while clearly enamoured with African music and culture, they’ve not added a pop sheen à la Foals or Vampire Weekend, nor smart-arse layers like Animal Collective, nor Yeasayer-like spiritually. Flamingods are as primal as beating animal hide with sticks, and they do it very well.
By Mandy Drake
Originally published in issue 33 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. November 2011.