The first performance of political supergroup The Fever 333 over in the UK was technically at Download Festival, but their first headline show here was always going to feel like a significant moment. Even if they didn’t describe their shows as demonstrations, that would still be the case.
As soon as you set foot in the venue, you’re handed a leaflet. Is it a press release? A manifesto? Both? Whatever it is, The Fever 333 mean business. This was never going to be the sort of show where you watch the band half-heartedly stare at their shoes for the entire set and get applauded for simply trying, and then everyone walks home as if nothing happened.
The Fever 333 are the one and only band of the night. The PA plays American folk and country staples from years gone by, and whilst for many this may be interpreted as celebratory of America’s past, anyone who knows a smidgen about frontman Jason Aalon Butler‘s worldview knows that the history and current climate of America, and the world, will be documented in scathing fashion once The Fever 333 hit the stage.
Preceded by a projection of black and white imagery, Butler stands onstage dressed in a black jumpsuit and hooded like a prison inmate. He soon removes the bag from his head, the backdrop falls, and Butler and the rest of the band dramatically unveil themselves.
Quite remarkably, the first song of the night ‘Burn It’ isn’t even released, and yet there are already many fans singing along to the chorus. Butler seems genuinely surprised and humbled at the response to the show, with the entire room chanting along to ‘We’re Coming In’, and huge mosh pits breaking out throughout the set. More unpredictability follows with a beatbox from Butler, and a brief but thunderous drum solo from Aric Improta.
Newer cuts like ‘Trigger’ go down a storm, and further mayhem breaks out to ‘Soul’d Me Out’. If the ‘Made An America’ EP suffered slightly from John Feldmann‘s over-production, the instantaneous energy coupled with Butler‘s soaring melodies and impassioned shouts mean that the songs can more than hold their own in a live setting.
Ending with ‘Hunting Season’, which gets a slowed-down coda, there’s not only a feeling of euphoria, but a feeling among the crowd that they’re not alone. It may not be letlive., of course, but with a raucous set of songs to fan the flames of discontent led by one of the best frontmen in the business, who’s complaining?