Review first published here.
Singing, dancing, joke-cracking musical comedy trio The Midnight Beast (or “TMB” to those in the know) played live to a rapturous crowd at Camden’s Underworld last night, a warm-up for their fans preceding the group’s soon-to-be-realeased EP, Self-Deprecation Nation. One look around the low-ceilinged basement venue revealed TMB’s main demographic: late teens and early twenty-somethings in search of a laugh and a catchy beat.
On a tiny stage in the far corner, vivid red and blue lights illuminated the group – Stefan Abingdon, Dru Wakely and Ashley Horne – as they bounced enthusiastically into view to the shrill approval of the crowd. Were those inflated condoms being batted back and forth above the heads of the audience? Of course they were.
A steady and growing YouTube fan base was bolstered a couple of years ago by TMB’s self-titled comedy musical series on Channel 4, something which, in turn, grew out of earlier YouTube viral success with a parody of Ke$ha’s Tik Tok. In the past few years, the group have moved away from direct parodies of individual songs and now write their own original music: shamelessly tongue-in-cheek fun infused with gleeful enthusiasm and seemingly inexhaustible physical energy.
Apart from a new song (Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead) from their as-yet-unreleased EP, it was clear from the word-for-word sing-along to every number that the audience regarded TMB less as a band than as especially musical friends who happened to be performing. The crowd’s love was formidable; no wonder, given the jubilant mix of catchy choruses, self-deprecating rap and unsophisticated humour in every piece.
Don’t expect political correctness from TMB, but don’t expect malice either. While lyrics might be heavy on curses and perhaps even slurs, these are employed in parody only. A highlight of the evening was Wands, an entertaining Harry Potter spoof accompanied by memorable gesticulations with glow stick wands.
The music itself runs the gamut of popular influences, from the emphatic shouting and heavy guitar riffs of The Beastie Boys to tinkly teen-pop background synths, to a deliberate parody of American college rock, complete with hopping guitarists. This is enjoyable, lighthearted music that pokes fun at the music industry itself. And besides, it looked suspiciously like their parents might be selling the T-shirts at the end of the gig. How could anyone possibly dislike a group like that?