On Sept. 12, a camera panned into London’s historic 100 Club, mimicking the sight of an eager concertgoer making their way to the stage. But there was no audience — besides a handful of crew members — for the English electronic punk duo, Sleaford Mods. Regardless, the band and camera crew effortlessly made sure the stream resembled a real concert experience as closely as possible from home.
Sleaford Mods formed in 2007 in Nottingham, England, made up of singer Jason Williamson and musician Andrew Fearn, who joined in 2012. Halted in the middle of a tour supporting their newest compilation album, All That Glue, due to the pandemic, the band rebounded with a livestream intended to bring the grime and disgruntled nature of Sleaford Mods to fans via high-quality sound and video.
1990s Chris opened the show, delivering a gritty series of spoken word poems chronicling the struggles he has faced regarding his sexuality in England. The artist was followed by Billy Nomates, who crooned out her own share of half-spoken, half-sung commentary set to bass-driven melodies. Both were perfect precursors to Sleaford Mods’ biting style of political criticism and simple but groove-worthy beats.
About 40 minutes into the stream, Sleaford Mods took to the stage. Without much hesitation, they launched into “Blog Maggot,” a new song off of All That Glue that angrily mocks the media with a repeating chorus of “blog maggot” and unintelligible sounds. The song was a fitting way to drop listeners into the deep end of the band’s discography instead of easing in with a more commercially suitable song — if one by Sleaford Mods even exists.
From the intimate venue to the cinematic shots of the artists, blurred from afar yet some so close you can see the sweat on their faces, the show felt like watching an extended music video without any lip synching. Like a locomotive equipped with strobe lights and a deep, catchy bass, Sleaford Mods launched from song to song without hesitation.
Playing hits such as “Kebab Spider” and “TCR,” the band catered to fans’ wishes, but also made sure to perform older tunes such as “Jobseeker” and “Jolly Fucker.” Williamson paused for a moment after “TCR” to greet those watching, saying, “You’re in those cameras, aren’t you?” He shared that about 80,000 people were tuned in before playing “B.H.S.”
Williamson dove into the performance with the same energy he would have if there was a sea of people in front of him. Fearn, in front of his laptop, danced next to Williamson, clapping his hands and seemingly enjoying himself. The band’s sound still felt raw, despite being played through whatever audio device viewers were listening from.
In the band’s hour-long set, the duo was able to maintain energy throughout, with Williamson yelling extra obscenities in the lyrics. His energized yet deadpan barking matched the expressions on his face, alternating like a roller coaster between intense and calm.
Sleaford Mods treated viewers to two unreleased songs, “Elocution” and “I Don’t Rate You.” The first featured more of Williamson’s singing voice through lyrics such as, “I wish I had the time to be a wanker, just like you.” The latter song has a funky, pulsing bass — truly electronic punk at its finest — with fast, punchy lines and ending with an aggressive “Wanker.”
“Enjoying it still?” queried Williamson near the end. “At least you didn’t have to go anywhere.” The singer said he would normally profess something “really long and meaningful” to a crowd, but he instead ended with, “Dedicated to Kenny Beats, f—-g wanker,” and began performing the final song, “Tweet Tweet Tweet.”
At the end of the show, the lights abruptly went dark and only background voices could be heard as the band got off stage. Despite the disjointed nature of livestreams, Sleaford Mods were able to successfully bring a live experience to those watching. It was an immersive show, drenched with a British twang — truly a set of music for the disaffected masses.