From the highest heavens to the depths of hell, this time in London HMLTD brought us the festivities of their very own fictitious holiday of Polycephmas.
HMLTD, formerly (and still mistook for) ‘Happy Meal LTD’, have very successfully broken into the music scene and have been one of the most talked about bands for months now. They bring a revitalising sense of individuality and freshness, in both music and aesthetics, that people didn’t even know they were searching for. They seem to have created a new kind of subculture around them, which is noticeable at their shows, particularly in the way in which their fans dress. A sense of theatricality is not just conducted within the band, but the crowds themselves. One look or listen and HMLTD will reel you in to their parallel universe.
Their Instagram hinted at something special as they spoke of the ’12 Days of Polycephmas’, posting illustrations of multi-headed creatures by Emmanuelle Mohnblatt, but what was actually going on was a myth until this one-off gig for Fred Perry Subculture was announced.
Upon entry, programmes were handed out containing all the captions from the Instagram posts- an alternative take on the traditional ’12 Days of Christmas’, which Achilleas from the band delivered as a monologue before they took to the stage. Every inch of the venue was decorated in true HMLTD fashion- snakeskin curtains to separate the outside world to that of Polycephmas, headless mannequins with their heads hung up elsewhere, jars filled with chicken feet, fish heads, and lumps of flesh, plastic chickens suspended from the ceiling, inflatable candy canes (mostly seen hooked around the frontman’s neck by a member of the crowd) and of course plenty of tinsel in the spirit of Polycephmas. ‘Brockenhurst and Sons’ are responsible for the innovative décor at all the HMLTD shows, from which Mimi Whiteway was dressed in a red latex jumpsuit acting as Santa in the grotto, inviting anyone and everyone to sit on her lap and pose for a photo, then to be gifted a baggy containing the bespoke HMLTD sweets.
The supports on the lineup consisted of ‘Gentle Stranger’ and ‘Sex Cells’. ‘Sex Cells’ were dressed in white jumpsuits as they performed their electronic tracks backed by multiple synthesisers and drums. ‘Gentle Stranger’ went second, who’s name can be recognised from the bridge in HMLTD song ‘Satan, Luella and I’. It is near impossible to find any trace of them online, which adds to the mysterious ethos they seem to aim to give off. One member of the band stood on stage in a dunce hat chanting the lyrics ‘Disco Dance’, soon followed by two other members parading through the crowd as they made their way to the stage- one banging a drum, the other chanting through a megaphone.
After Achilleas had delivered his monologue, the opening guitar and beat from ‘Is This What You Wanted?’ kicked in as HMLTD gradually dispersed across the stage. The building suspense as the drop is awaited makes this the perfect opening track, definitely confirmed as the crowd screams first line “I got a feeling”. Their highly anticipated attire was no let-down, with singer Henry Spychalski covered head to toe in feathers, sporting a huge pair of (feather covered) angel wings.
Next came 3 songs unavailable on Spotify, previously released for a limited period of 24 hours on the band’s website – ‘Apple of My Eye’ (introduced with Spychalski saying “If you need a reason to click, then click”) ‘Death Drive’ and ‘Proxy Love’. With nearly everyone in the crowd knowing the words, it was evident how much HMLTD fans appreciate the music they are gifted, even if for such a short amount of time.
Highlights of the show include ‘Satan, Luella and I’ where Tallulah Kyle joined them on stage, gold clad, to perform the beautiful harmonies. It was discovered that one of the synths was broken, leading to some improvisation and showcasing the true talent of this band. Tiger Miles, again from ‘Brockenhurst and Sons’, was stood stage side for the whole show screaming the lyrics to the crowd, looking proudly at his stage creation and his friends performing.’To The Door’ caused chaos as a hanging stuffed animal was ripped into, sending the fluff and feathers all through the air, later joined by Spychalski crowdsurfing and adding to the shed feathers. This carnage led to the other synth breaking and fears sparked of the show ending (one song) early. Thankfully it was just a false alarm and HMLTD were able to bring the night to a close with massive track ‘Stained’, first making sure to wish everyone a ‘Happy Polycephmas’.
When the lights came up all that was in sight was feathers as the crowd followed the band’s wishes to ‘Take everything you see’ and grabbed everything in reach to take home as a souvenir of this very memorable night. It was only a matter of time before everyone realised that the fish heads, chicken feet and flesh in plastic jars scattered around the room were, in fact, real.
HMLTD shows can only be described as that- a show, and the true intensity of them cannot be understood until you have been there. A remarkable effort is put in to every aspect of the evening- from the decorations, to their makeup and outfits, to their connection and involvement with their fans, except this one is actually quite effortless. This is exactly why they are growing as incredibly quickly as they are, and with rumours rapidly spreading of an album on its way, this is just the start for HMLTD. Catch them on their February Tour to experience the scale of immenseness that HMLTD create.
Thank you once again to the Fred Perry Subculture team.
Words by Georgia Essex.