Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Age concern ignored for club feast

They come round rarely, arguably for a man of my advancing years they should never come round at all and I should stick to the craft beer, port and cheese board. I’m talking about trips to nightclubs, not bars or pub with late licences but actual clubs where the space is given over specifically to musicking. A few visitors from out of town a few weekends ago had the calendar mockingly screaming ‘club double-header’ at me; the first served to heighten prejudices and fear of the age gap; the second showed the enjoyment to be had when there is a roster of acts booked to incite more than mere pavlovian reaction and appeal beyond a specific age group.

Make Me was on at the Hoxton Basement, an unbranded space for hire on the corner of Drysdale Road and Hoxton Street. It featured Berlin’s Steffi and Bristol’s October, so a night of upfront house and techno. Having finally passed door and cloakroom queues, I found my mates and was quickly into the groove. All was fine and as expected musically, although the sound system was a bit stodgy. I didn’t hang around for the final hours with Steffi but all the jocks proceeding her set played good solid house, as generic demands still seem to dictate, sometimes a bit ravey, sometimes a bit euro, and mixed in with veritable classics such as Photek and Robert Owens’ Mine to Give and Moodymann’s Shades of Jae to make the basement space proper sweaty.

There were no specific idiots beyond some hard boys lighting up fags inside and the usual coked up cubicle hangers yet the crowd still put me off. Generally mid 20s-late 30s and well heeled, cut-glass accents tamed by the needs of sounding cool and living east (off trust funds, perhaps). With the music not especially cutting edge and the crowd having no edge, this night never seemed likely to ‘go off’. That may be me getting older, poorer and more bitter, or it may be a valid critique of the flattening out of the audience group to bourgeois media operators.

Fast-forward a night and Blackest Ever Black at Elephant’s Corsica Studios. Leading lights from the ‘hardcore continuum’ were promised such as junglists Source Direct and grime ledge Slimzee (who didn’t show), alongside modern producers making waves such as Raime and Vatican Shadow with his terror-branded technofear, experimental stalwarts such as Bruce Gilbert and William Bennett in his current heavy voodoo Cut Hands phase, and other more acts that fit in with the very lateral visions of the Bleed night and the Blackest label.

I have been to enough of these more experimental nights to know your desire for aesthetic shock is tempered with a blasé attitude that realises you could just be greeted with indulgent drivel. Last year’s debut do had its moments but seemed a bit chaotic and ill served by the Basing House layout. This is a different type of scenester night, where fans of any act are hyper-critical and ready to press ‘the heard it all before – next’ button at the first sign of any banal repetition. Much of the time can be spent working out what exactly they are doing behind their laptops.

Luckily however, there was more than enough here to not only test us but actually enjoy; fine dj sets from Powell and label duo Raime, who turned the bass up on their 92-94 jungle set to make the most of room 2’s speakers, convulsing those bodies able to move; Cut Hands entrancing a packed main room (so packed we had to listen to most of it outside) with his hard-edged Afro-ceremonial sound; Haswell and Regis’s new Concrete Fence fucking up the techno template in pleasingly novel ways I won’t attempt to describe; Dominick Fernow pushing his Vatican Shadow project into an often danceable version of his paranoid military-industrial-terror productions (although he was also very animated in buoying up the crowd we did mark down the Hospital/Bed of Nails man for having rather samey, and rather 90s techno drum patterns).

After two nights we couldn’t hang around to finish off with Source Direct (the need for drum and bass probably satiated by Raime in any case) and the other late acts but we’re all looking forward to another showcase event for the label next year. I also saw enough and heard enough over the weekend not to feel the need to venture out for a while.

Pictures from Blackest Ever Black night

Concrete Fence mix

Make Me photoset on Resident Advisor

Old Steffi mix

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Anonymous GeoffShoulders said...

Good words. Also, I love that Steffi mix so much.

4:35 pm  
Blogger Culla said...

quietus' recent interview with raime suggests they didnt play BEB so was that lee gamble rustling up the old-school jungle (given the echoes of it in his latest release)?

5:10 pm  

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