This exciting five-piece band from Canterbury headlined the Africana fundraiser tonight, raising money for projects in Kenya. They formed in 2011 and only a year later, won the accolade of the UK’s best unsigned act. They describe their music as ‘Fip Fok’ (the title of their first EP), a bouncing hybrid of folk, pop and hip-hop; even checking them out on You Tube before the gig, I was excited about the evening’s entertainment. They feature a unique set-up of guitar, banjo, double bass, violin and beat-boxing so the sound is unlike anyone else I’ve heard.
The support acts: Brighton’s The Beatnik Horrors and singer songwriter, George Olgivie were good too making the long wait for the headliners a real warm up. The Beatnik Horrors are a post-Chilli Peppers rock act with 3 guitars and helium vocals from their tom-boy lead singer, Ari playing memorable and distinctive songs. George Olgivie is an acoustic singer-song-writer with a nice vibrato, playing covers and original material who will release a self-penned EP in July.
It was late in the evening when the Butterfields started their set; C&TB are used to playing a variety of arenas from busking, which they still do, to thousand-seater theatres, but they seemed particularly at home in this large music pub, having brought some of their loyal tribe with them. The audience are mainly students who gave them a warm welcome, but the venue is sadly not packed, probably due to the cool, wet weather. They kick off slowly with Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”, but turn up the tempo half way through with some impressive beat-boxing. Then it’s swiftly into Supertramp’s “Breakfast In America”, or their unique twist on it. The crowd are on their feet and stay there for all of the hour long set but the fun really began when they launched into seven original songs, starting with “Scarecrow”, apparently a tribute to the band’s variety of long or be-dreadlocked hair. I was glad I had worn my dancing shoes as I was soon jigging around too, as were, I noticed, the support acts. The last couple of times I have been at such a lively feel-good gig were Basement Jaxx in Brixton and going back further still, The Pogues in Kilburn on St Patrick’s night in ’87! It was almost as if C&TB were playing a unique hybrid of both in this festival atmosphere.
Fan favourite “Astronaut” was next, utilising the strong musicianship of each member of the band, including Dulcima the female lead’s vocals. Percussion duties were entirely the domain of the beat-boxer of the group, who had astounding energy, variety and talent, later soloing in a most entertaining way, but each band member, like in a jazz quintet, got to show their impressive individual skills in a short spot-light. The next highlight, and there were many, was the new single “Warriors” which went down very well with the crowd and is released this week. All this and a radio presenter I chatted to, who had interviewed them earlier in the day, confirmed what a nice bunch Coco & The Butterfields are, and they look the part too.
The evening of exuberance concluded with “The Hip Hop Song” and Flo Rida/T-Pain’s “Low”. I hope the band get the wider audience they deserve; in an era of karaoke pop and synthesised dance, this band are the real thing constructing an original sound with great musicality and a very infectious energy.