Edit this event
- Koko, Camden Town »
- Peeping Tom »
Mike Patton’s Peeping Tom is a puzzling beast of a band: an ensemble of highly disparate artists, the collective fuses hip-hop with scat-pop, funk bass lines with chattering click drums and to-a-tune scratches. Their self-titled debut album of earlier this year – much-anticipated prior to its May release – was met by a mixed reception: some praised its embracing of variety and many changes in pitch and tone, while others derided its incoherency and over-reliance on the clout of guest contributors. Live, it seems opinions on Patton’s so-called pop project are equally split: those at his feet, pressed against the barrier arms aloft, are clearly enthralled; those towards the venue’s ample rear are content to catch fleeting moments of each song before returning to their social chatter.
Patton and his collective – a DJ high to his right, a beat-boxing Rahzel to his left – run through a series of selections from the aforementioned album, the only disc to bear the Peeping Tom branding as yet. At its best the set’s a bouncing rap-along, those in the know spitting along with Patton’s rhymes and the uninitiated trying their best to keep up with his rapid-fire vowels; at its worse they emulate the limp funk-rock of the Chili Peppers, albeit with some mediocre turntablism tossed over the top. Somewhere between these two musical antipodes the many-limbed musical troupe successfully emulate the interesting pop-hip-hop of recent touring partners Gnarls Barkley. Sadly, though, they’ve no ‘Crazy’ in their repertoire, let alone a ‘Smiley Faces’.
Although their music spreads itself across many a base, Patton at least knows where he is this evening, geographically speaking: repeatedly, London is told to “get the fuck up”, or “wave your fucking hands”, or some other bellowed instruction comes screaming from Patton’s jaws (the above may not be entirely word-for-word). He asks around: who are the lamest artists out there? Kasabian are booed, and then the boo is cheered; likewise The Streets. Patton cackles wildly, like Sesame Street’s Count enjoying infinity-card pick-up. But the most-hated act on Patton and company’s radar is Wolfmother: they hate Wolfmother. And what does this have to do with Peeping Tom’s music on the night. Nothing, directly, but that these moments of artist-to-crowd-and-back-again banter comprise highlights, well, it tells you something about the consistency of Peeping Tom’s performance.
Interludes only splinter the already badly-bound set further: a solo spot from Rahzel doesn’t exactly exhibit his world-conquering skills – in fact, his turn in the spotlight is rather lacklustre given the ability apparent on his own recordings – and the DJ’s chance to shine leaves all but a few already-ringing front-row ears wondering why Patton recruited him for touring in the first place (the gentleman’s name, sadly, passes these ears by). With bass and drums around him, the deckhand is fine; solo, his mistimed scratches grate irritatingly. Coupled with the unshakable feeling that lodges in the head and heart as early as four songs in – that this set really isn’t going down as one of its helmsman’s finest – this total lack of song-to-song adhesion enables the attention to wander. What am I missing on television for this…?
Once the mind’s in such a place, it’s never shifting from its comfort zone. Anything that’s not immediate – that doesn’t instantly get the toes tapping and the ears twitching – is disregarded; thus, a slew of songs slip and slide together to comprise energetic but mostly uninspired background noise to an evening’s light drinking. Lacking the bite of Tomahawk or Fantomas, Patton’s chosen vessel of the moment sinks with barely a tear shed.
Disappointing? On this hand, yes, but rest assured that the other hand loves it more than they do The Real Thing.