A seedy and sin-ridden display from the Stockholm outfit on the final night of Nile Rodgers’ Meltdown
Shannon COTTON
13:39 12th August 2019

The Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s famous Southbank Centre; often home to enigmatic electronic shows or serene ballet performances, is tonight (11 August) hosting one of Sweden’s most sordid exports, Viagra Boys. 

On the final night of Nile Rodgers Meltdown Festival, the legendary musician once again walks on stage to introduce the band personally and encourages the audience out of their seats before they are even in full view. The room appears to be full of fans well rehearsed in the on stage antics of the Stockholm outfit. Earlier in the evening they prepared for the spectacle by inflating giant footballs and shouting “Sports!” as the crowd piled in. 

From the offset vocalist Sebastian Murphy wastes no time in writhing around on the floor, squirming and growling like a man possessed. In the same time it takes for a strobe light to flicker, the bright and regal surroundings are switched to a seedy, dungeon set up. The unsavoury atmosphere washes over the audience, as they bask in the glory of bludgeoning basslines and ploughing keys all tied together with demented sax appeal. 

As they cruise through the majority of their debut record Street Worms, the set is filled with a myriad of swirling instrumentals, dominated by a cartoon-ish combination of saxophone and synth. This paired with the potent strobe lighting is what we can only imagine Dumbo having an acid trip to sound like. Their rendition of ‘Amphetanarchy’ is the most glorious of these cacophonies.

Being in a completely seated room, Seb grapples with the intimate setting and unfamiliar layout by quipping “I’ve always wanted to play in the theatre,” before quoting Shakespeare, “to be, or not to be.” After hurtling through ‘Frogstrap’ at full speed, he then humours the crowd some more by telling them “there’s now going to be a short 45 minute interval” before the band slide into lingering, slow burner ‘Just Like You’.

“What are sports if not an excuse to touch your friends?” There are no prizes for predicting the reaction crowd-pleaser ‘Sports’ garners this evening. From the opening chords the aforementioned inflatable footballs and foam tennis balls brought in by punters begin to bounce around the room.

After and elongated saxophone solo encore, that leaves both the audience and their saxophonist breathless, the intense strobe lighting dissipates and the house lights come up. All that’s left in Viagra Boys’ wake are strewn plastic pint cups and a mixture of sweat and sleaze dripping from the walls of the Queen Elizabeth Hall - just the way we like it. 


Photo: Sharon Lopez