Trump would hate HMLTD. The creative madness and complete ambiguity of the London pack’s sound delivered a sensual battering. Formally known as Happy Meal LTD, they are hard to describe. Frontman Henry Spychalsk resembles Adam Ant turned glam-rock-masochist as he lurches about the stage as if possessed. The guitars sounded awful, even when they were in tune, but somehow it worked. You couldn’t explain what was going on, but no one questioned it.
Right in front of the stage, about seven avid fans thrust about, clearly off their faces on something other than the buzz of HMLTD. As the band swaggered into the sultry, lacy bass intro of their first online single ‘Is This What You Wanted?’, the reaction from these die-hards was a resounding “Yes”. Meanwhile, the rest of the crowd stood timidly admiring from afar, some bobbing with their Red Stripe and some genuinely confused by the visceral and outlandish savagery of Spychalsk. The ambient and seductively chill Cigarettes After Sex were playing next door and, with HMLTD’s gig being free, those who had popped in between sets looked as if they’d been sprayed with icy water.
The whole atmosphere of the set felt like a weird collective LSD trip. The lights shimmered off the band’s silk shirts and leather trousers, the stompy guitars shook the room, and the Nick Cave-like depth of Spychalsk’s vocals consumed the senses as his lipstick-clad mouth contorted into an impending Joker-esque smile.
The experience reached its climax with ‘Where’s Joanna?’, as gloriously deranged Spychalsk lurched into the crowd. The whole thing was a blur of breakneck punk and fucked up glam rock, but for a cold Tuesday night it delivered a hot injection of much-needed adrenaline.
With HMLTD, expect the unexpected.
(Image: Meg Firth)