Technically, the title for this review is incorrect. Future of the Left did not headline Wednesday night’s show at Slim’s. That honor went to Andrew Jackson Jihad. But let’s be frank: Future of the Left, which rose from the ashes of sardonic UK noise punk legends Mclusky, are criminally underrated. Opening for a band like AJJ, who play their emo-folk-pop-punk with passion but little originality, is an obvious testament to that fact.
Thankfully, Future of the Left were given an unusually long opening slot, enough time to run through a 14 song set list, which included two Mclusky covers. Drawing a younger crowd than the last time I saw them at Bottom of the Hill, the floor exploded into an aggressive mosh pit as soon as FOTL took the stage. Andrew “Falco” Falkous, the group’s lead singer and figurehead, was in typical form, spitting out lines with the band’s notorious sarcasm while making a clear argument for FOTL as the most melodic noise band still touring.
It’s the band’s noisy minimalism — the way they make use of the empty space between bass notes, or the way the sharp guitar jabs come in and out like a passing swarm of bees — that leaves Falco’s remarkable ear for melody the room to craft these astonishingly catchy, angry choruses. Despite matching the indignation of hardcore and black metal, Falco pushes his voice to a splitting scream only as an accent mark to his bitterness.
His backing band is flexible, too. The insane, fever pitch rant that is Mclusky’s “Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues” sprinted from fast to double time, a pace so hurried Falco stopped enunciating words and burst out screaming, his pitch tracing the outline of the original melody in a satisfying testament to FOTL’s dedication to controlled chaos. Or take the synth-banger “Manchasm” from their 2007 album Curses, which included all four members contributing vocals and ended with the band singing the silliest line in their catalog with a straight face (“Colin is a pussy / a very pretty pussy cat”).
For their last song, the band covered the oddball comedian Andy Kaufman’s “I Trusted You,” extending the outro for an extra five minutes, pulling audience members onstage to share the microphone and take their turn screaming in anguish, “I trusted you / I trusted you.” As the mass of audience members onstage continued to expand, the collective fuck you that FOTL expose in their songwriting came into clear view, a vitriolic celebration of pop culture found only here in this dark, sweaty venue. I trusted you, they seemed to say, even if I never should have.