Pop-ups have penetrated every aspect of modern life. Restaurants. Shops. Hotels. Those annoying ads on the internet. They’re everywhere. Music, too.  London three-piece Real Fur have applied the pop-up concept to gigging. Over the last six months they’ve earned a name for themselves by playing a series of live shows in launderettes. They call the peripatetic night Safari Funk. It started in their local washateria in London’s East End. Since then they’ve played a national tour of launderettes, travelling as far as Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Safari Funk 4 from Real Fur

There’s a long tradition of clubs and gigs in unlikely locations going back to the M25 orbital raves in 1988 and The Beatles playing their last ever gig on a Savile Row roof top in 1969. 
 
But Real Fur are more like an echo of the guerilla gig fad from 2004, which saw The Others playing  Great Portland Street station on the London underground and, in one memorable instance, The Libertines performing an early gig at an old people’s home. However, Real Fur frontman Leo Duncan says the inspiration for their launderette idea is in fact much more prosaic. Apparently, it came from their local launderette owner, who “needed cheering up”.
 
Real Fur formed a year ago after meeting at a climbing club and discovering that they shared similar taste in music. Their debut single, Animal, out next week, is a marriage of jaunty, Afro-inspired guitars and Duncan’s vaulting vocals. It sounds not dissimilar to a British Vampire Weekend.
 
But it’s the gigs in launderettes that has attracted attention from the national press. Talking about the recent launderette tour, Duncan says: “It was brilliant. It’s safe to say that we didn’t know how it was going to go when we set off, but we got a great response from everyone involved. Both Scottish gigs at the end of the tour were memorable. In Glasgow someone thought they’d turned on the mains switch, but actually they’d turned on the gas instead. We had a few frantic minutes until that was resolved. It turned out wild after that. I think it was the relief. Edinburgh the night after was great too. I saw someone stage dive off a washing machine, which was a rewarding sight.”
  
The key to a successful pop-up is to ensure the content is as memorable as the mode of delivery. Duncan isn’t worried that the gimmick might overshadow his band’s music. “No, I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he says, firmly. “In fact, we’d love to do it again and will head to any launderette who wants us around the country. Definitely feel we've got more launderettes left in us.”
 
Coming to a coin-op near you soon.
 
Text: AR Love  
 

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