I did better than Mark K-Punk at the Maffia/Aphex ATP thing last week. Ended up sandwiched between two sets of mates in the queue, saw a bunch of people inside… shame about most of the “entertainment”.
Earlier in the day I had been listening to Dennis Brown Presents Prince Jammy: Umoja / 20th Century DEBwise. I’d thought to myself that it was impressive the amount of completely mad noises which were incorporated into the mix, but that were still satisfying to listen to because of the sheer power of the riddim tracks.
Inside SEONE there were some old faces – people I always used to see at gigs but don’t recall speaking to. They were in the minority, though, which was good, probably (“the torch has been passed to a new generation”). Further investigations revealed that most of them were there to see the Aphex Twin, or just heard that this was the place to be.
All we got for the first few hours was a load of abstract slightly arty noise. You could tell it was slightly arty because the blokes making it looked very serious. It was as if they’d nicked Jammy’s mentalist noises and then mangled them into a cacophonous mess. Maybe the younger me would have loved all of that, but having seen noise performances for some time now, this was absolute fucking drivel.
There was no energy (as you might get with some teenage blaggers having a laugh or being provocative) and there was no… feeling. I’ve seen noise performed so that it hurled you into a new state of consciousness, whether that be a dreamy trance state, or laughter when you finally comprehended the structure underneath it all, or some kind of meditative flow where the sound allowed you to drift off into your own thoughts… all tonight’s warm up inspired was boredom – and I get enough of that elsewhere.
In other places, this sort of extended tedium would have provoked a hugely satisfying violent response. But the audience at ATP was too fragmented – people were there for too many different reasons. I’m just glad I had a good crew of people to chat to throughout it all – tho we would have been much better off in a pub, really.
And of course the only reason most of us didn’t just go to a pub was Mark Stewart and the Maffia – not seen in this parish since the headrush of the “Control Data” Astoria gig in… 1997? I should write more about the many and varied On-U gigs I’ve been to over the years, but it was with some relief and outright happiness that I saw Mark, Doug Wimbish, Skip McDonald, Keith LeBlanc and … the keyboard player… take to the stage.
They kicked off with the Bowie cover on Metatron and then got the sound properly sorted for “Hysteria”. Apparently Adrian Sherwood was on the mix (a friend spent the whole gig looking at the desk and not the band!) and it really showed – hard pounding industrial funk. Maybe some people didn’t get it, and maybe this lack of empathy meant that the band wasn’t really able to get up to speed, but I was passed caring when they rolled out “The Resistance of the Cell” and “Liberty City”. For the last (?) tune, the Maffia devolved into the Sugarhill Gang and pulled out the riffs from “Rappers Delight” for Mark to chat “Survival” over the top. This went some way to erase the rest of the bullshit of the evening. Thank you…
Aphex Twin did a DJ set from somewhere above the stage – you couldn’t even see if it was actually him or not. He played some great techno which reminded me of an old Colin Dale mix CD I have somewhere that reduces me to jelly if it hear it on a comedown. Clearly if you were expecting a stageshow with dancing girls and flashing lights, this would have been a crushing disappointment. Perhaps some of the Hoxtonites did actually get the feeling they had been cheated at this point.
Somewhere around 1:30am I realised that the only reason I was staying was to watch Whitehouse clear the room of innocent young ravers. Which was (a) a pretty screwed up motivation; and (b) not really enough to keep me away from bed. Apparently they came on around 2:00am, did 15 minutes and then walked off after someone threw something. This makes them inordinately inferior to Bonnie Tyler at the Reading Festival in 1988. Power Electronics ubermenschen? Shitehouse.