Sunday, February 24, 2008

Simian Mobile Disco at The Astoria (February 13, 2008) was a phenomenal show; I'd decided at the last minute that any group touted as being right up there alongside Justice and Daft Punk in terms of pure entertainment value was definitely worth seeing, even if the concert was taking place in a club I had never set foot in (nor did I ever want to) during my years in London despite staying less than ten minutes away at one point in time.

Having been delayed by work, I arrived at around 8.30 pm in my work clothes and heels (not my usual concert-going gear, as I prefer to change if I have the time). That turned out to be a mistake, but I'll talk more on that later. SMD were scheduled to come on at around 9.50 pm and would play till the 11 pm curfew. So basically, I arrived just in time to catch the last supporting act, The Whip, an electronica band from Manchester. While they were not too bad - I was dancing for the most part to their set - I did wonder what the whole point of the band was, as several members were carrying instruments and there was clearly a lead singer, as nothing could be heard above the pounding electronic beats. I'm sure there are those who think that it is nothing short of a brilliant idea to combine a live band with a DJ, but when one so clearly overpowers the other, it's a clear sign that something's been lost in translation somewhere.

During The Whip's set, it became clear that I'd managed to pick a somewhat good spot. I was two row behind the mad moshing part of the crowd. In fact, I saw several crowd-surfers, and was seriously worried about what would happen if they came anywhere near me, but, fortunately, did not have to deal with that eventuality. I also managed to see the band quite clearly in my 2.5 inch heels.

However, this all changed when SMD came on. The crowd was clearly up for it... so much so that everyone, and I mean everyone, started jostling and jumping and just going crazy. To survive in that sort of crowd, you need to be doing two things: 1) not wearing glasses and 2) jostling, jumping and going crazy right back. Unfortunately, given my outfit, I had neither the energy nor the ability to do either one. So I ended up getting pushed further and further back until midway through SMD's set, I found myself almost at the back of the floor, positioned next to a huge, immovable, burly bloke who looked like he could have been the top performer at Bouncer College, and who ended up inadvertently protecting those of us around him for the rest of the night.

The SMD experience was - in a word - amazing. The light show was fantastic, and watching the two of them zip around on stage... well, it was kind of like a wayang kulit on acid, with neon raver lights and all. I don't think that was the best possible analogy, so perhaps this YouTube video may help to illustrate it better.

In terms of the music, I don't think I've heard that many clear big room danceable tunes out of one group in a long time. I wasn't at all familiar with SMD's productions before the concert, having heard of them only because of their incredibly catchy remix of Justice - We Are Your Friends which came out in 2006 (which, by the way, Justice apparently didn't even like all that much, but ah well), and after the concert, I couldn't figure out why I'd not even bothered to check them out before. It's The Beat was probably the only tune I recognised, having heard it at least once in Zouk before, I'm quite sure.

The clear winners of the night were Hustler (a rather Chemical Brothers-eqsue tune featuring The Char Johnson on vocals) and the incredibly stunning Sleep Deprivation, a tune which just left me breathless when I heard it. It just grabs you and forcibly throws you in a state of sheer, mindless, raverhood. Sandwiched in between such clear dance tunes was a nice, somewhat gentler love song, I Believe, which was a nice, relaxing, come-down break after all the drunken intoxication of the previous two tunes (not to mention the rest of the tunes of the night).

It was perhaps one of the craziest concerts I'd been to in a long time. In fact, I liked them so much I found myself braving the crazy crowds once again just a few days later, this time at a proper club - Fabric.

And on the subject of being in work clothes? Let's just say that getting hit by a drink thrown from the balcony didn't exactly help my drycleaning bills.

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