Live Review: Flamingods + Nabihah Iqbal + Stealing Sheep Live At Smithfield 150

on Monday, September 03, 2018
Stealing Sheep + Nabihah Iqbal + Flamingods live @ Smithfield Market (26 August 2018) // Words: Saam Das

We can't say we've spent too many August Bank Holidays at a meat market before, but the 150th birthday celebrations of London's Smithfield Market proved perhaps surprisingly alluring even in rather inclement conditions for the 2018 August Bank Hols. A family-friendly mini-festival, complete with Roller Disco and Sausage Dog Parade, organisers Culture Mile put on an impressively wide-ranging event, all for the grand ticket price of nada. Bravo.

The main attraction at Smithfield 150 for many was the multitude of bands on offer across the weekend, with the likes of Nimmo and Nadia Rose playing on the considerably more pleasant (weather-wise at least) Saturday. We braved the rain for a nonetheless enjoyable Sunday, which was mostly dry in the end, thanks to the Main Stage being helpfully situated in the middle of the Market and thus fully covered.

The first act of our day were unconventional Bahrain-meets-London outfit Flamingods with their throwback experimentalism. Their dazzling sounds are reflective of a diversity of bands including King Khan & The Shrines and Kula Shaker, and dare we suggest, even The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster. As frontman Kamal Rasool explained, songs like 'Rhama' are "about connecting with our roots", but it might be fair to suggest that they are just as much about expanding the minds of their audience.

The quartet opt for a squad rotation approach to their variety of instruments, which encompass various parts of the world, crafting a self-proclaimed 'exotic psychedelia'. Other genres are very much apparent however, and an elongated final number highlighted Flamingods' prog ambitions. Having opened with Rasool noting that it was a "pleasure to be with you on this rainy day" - we can attest that the pleasure was mostly ours.

Electronic artist Nabihah Iqbal recently took the interesting and potentially courageous decision (judging from the relative lack of commercial success for British Asian musicians) to step away from her Throwing Shade guise, instead choosing to release music under her actual name. Similarly courageous was her choice not to address the significant delay (24 minutes by our count) in starting her set, which left the audience somewhat frustrated and befuddled.

Despite the delay and a subsequently sedate opening, Iqbal's performance began to build speed with tracks like 'Saw U Twice' with its futurist industrialism and the claptastic 'In Visions'. Of particular note was the spoken word-driven 'Zone 1 To 6000', inspired by William Blake's eighteenth-century poem 'London', and we're sure to be investigating her debut record on Ninja Tune in due course.

If Flamingods are unafraid of convention then Stealing Sheep barely even recognise the word. (The two have in fact combined, with the latter remixing the former's single 'Kewali'.) The Liverpudlian trio have this year formed a Suffragette Tribute group to commemorate the centenary of the suffragette movement, which fought for female equality and empowerment. A battle that is, in some respects, sadly ongoing.

The glitter-adorned, costumed troupe combined choreography and vocalisations with lively percussion and twisted electronics for a wonderfully unpredictable spectactle. Following a cowbell-infused exit, the trio later re-emerged minus their procession, to focus on the day job. Through tracks such as 'Joking Me' and 'Not Real', Stealing Sheep traverse a myriad of sounds, veering from Scandi-pop to Kate Bush with (almost) everything in between.

A fine finish to the day's proceedings, and a fine day (or rather evening) all round. As music festivals at meat markets go, Smithfield 150 is certainly up there. We hope that a return event might come along at some point in the not too distant future.

Find more info on Smithfield 150 at Culturemile.London.

msn spaces tracker