Okilly Dokilly + Jim Fontaine @ The Borderline

Date: 8th October 2018
Review By: Beandog
Photography By: David William Hatton

The Independent Voice start our night off at one of London’s more credible heavy metal boozers.

The Crobar – just off Tottenham Court road – is a pub that proudly holds its own in an area of London that’s experiencing a seemingly relentless overhaul. For a number of years now, there has been an advancing circle of destruction in which older London buildings are being knocked down, bulldozed and redeveloped. As we sink a few Newcastle Brown Ales – aware of the changing environment around us – my colleague and I speculate on whether this well-loved establishment will eventually suffer the same fate as the shops and businesses around it – Thankfully, at least for now, the only brutal crushing going on is via the music playing on the pub’s sound-system.

The soundtrack at the Crobar doesn’t pull any punches, and isn’t for the casual metal-head. Even one of the regulars, sat at the next table to us winces at the guttural vocals and blast beats of the in-house tunes. It’s extreme music to say the least – and seems at odds with another gentleman who has just walked in, resplendent in a pink, collared shirt and tank top; his hair neatly cut, matching his smart moustache that twitches as he examines the drinks on offer through his spectacles.

The Independent Voice shoot each other a glance. We’d consider this guy out of place if we didn’t know what was going on at the Borderline later this evening – So close is this gentleman’s resemblance to The Simpson’s Ned Flanders, we acknowledge that he must be a fan of Okilly Dokilly who has popped in here for a quick drink before a night of Springfield themed Ned-core next door. It’s also a reminder that it’s time to drink up and get ourselves to the venue, which we do, only to discover an impressive number of fans (male and female) dressed similarly to the man at the Crobar – bonus points going out to anyone who has come along having trimmed their facial hair into a Ned Flander’s moustache (there are a lot more than I ever thought there would be!)

The venue is already respectfully full when support band, Jim Fontaine take the stage. Despite the stylised headliners, there are no gimmicks at this point in the evening.

The young band from Kent rely on a straight ahead approach that blows the cobwebs off the mixed crowd.

Jim Fontaine’s sound is a brutal hybrid of heavy metal with hardcore elements.

Vocals are screamed over the thick riffs and the songs are propelled by the impressive chops of their drummer, who effortlessly alternates from a manic blast to a steady groove and back again, such is the erratic nature of the music

The band have a jovial side that contrasts with their aggressive songs. In between the on-stage banter the vocalist playfully drapes his mic over the fittings in low ceiling, letting it hang like a noose centre stage. He continues to bellow into it until the mic breaks, leaving the singer to borrow from the guitarist to finish the set.

It’s a powerful performance. Confident and nonchalant all at once. The band come across like they really don’t give a shit if you like them or not – but in the best possible way and judging by their enthusiastic response, I think it’s safe to say the crowd liked them a lot.

On to the headliners – Tonight marks the penultimate date on Okilly Dokilly’s first UK tour, which – for a band formed three years ago in Pheonix, Arizona – has been a long time coming for a lot of people in the room tonight. The cheer that greets the Neds as they stroll out onto the stage is clear evidence of this.

 

Probably the world’s only “Netal” band, they demonstrate exactly what that’s all about by the way their opening song, They Warned Me flips from an ominous Tool-esque simmer into a full-throated roar from vocalist “Head Ned.”

 

As an interesting and perhaps unsurprising point, all of the members of Okilly Dokilly are actually called Ned. There have been several of them in the band’s short career; including, Bled Ned, Red Ned, Thread Ned and Stead Ned – but tonight, it is Shred Ned, Dread Ned and Zed Ned joining in for the performance, playing guitar, drums and keyboards respectively. Zed Ned using his miniature synth to cover the low end.

Vegetables follows, and while it gets a rousing response, I can’t help thinking as they bellow the chorus that the predominately young crowd seem to relate a little too closely to the lyric “I don’t want any damn vegetables.” To give this any deeper consideration would be missing the point of Okilly Dokilly who, committed to the joke, continue to rip through song’s like Flanderdoodles and More Animal Than Flan without breaking character.

Their take on heavy music is actually difficult to pin down – There is a naïve charm to it that works in the context of being performed by a group of cartoon characters; but close your eyes to remove the visual gag and actually this doesn’t sound like metal played by people who listen to metal much; It’s a bit awkward and sounds clunky in places – of course, the bonus of this is it creates an authentic impression that someone has slipped some gin into the non-alcoholic punch at a church social gathering – the band initially gathered to sing acoustically around the campfire have forgotten themselves and gone rogue!

With that being said, I don’t think anyone here really cares about songs in any meaningful way. This is all about the idea of allowing a bit of silliness into a scene that can sometimes take itself too seriously – Head Ned completely stays in character throughout, addressing all in attendance as “neighbourinos” and ensuring his between-song patter is delivered in Ned Flander’s timid but good natured manner before absolutely tearing his lungs out during the music.

By the time we reach the last third of the set, ushered in with a cover of the Beatles, Yellow Submarine – Rejigged slightly to incorporate the lyric, Yellow Family, the crowd are completely won over. Purple Drapes and Mur-diddly-urderer evoke a sizeable mosh pit that maintains itself up until the end of the set and guarantees an encore made up of a sing-a-long White Wine Spritzer and a climactic Nothing At All.

The crowd have had a brilliant time and it’s fair to say that Okilly Dokilly have proved to be worth the wait for the faithful; however, beyond this evening, it remains to be seen what the band’s enduring appeal will be. Perhaps it’s unfair to consider this in terms of longevity – better to enjoy it for what it is, a joke and a bit of surreal escapism for the night. Based on that, and judging by the smiles on the faces of the people as they leave the venue – the gig has been a resounding success.

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