Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hands Up For Röyksopp

Hands in the air! But for the love of God, why?
When house music emerged and bloomed, I was living in London and in my early 20s, so I should have been something of a wild raver. But I already felt too old for such a scene, and I refused to spend the little spare money I had on the drugs that seemed necessary to make the music sound something more than a producer pissing about with a few buttons, for hours on end. But what did I know? Much of the electronic music that evolved from the early 90s was sublime, and I’m still trying to catch up 20 years later. I still don’t get the dancing, though.

It’s one thing to watch rave’s legacy - my dance-floor daughters and their mates jumping up and down on the spot, punching their arms in the air to the meta-commercial, factory-spewed , submusical studio detritus that outsells decency today. But to see men around my age dance in this manner at the 9:30 Club last night was disquieting. Even when captivated by the Norwegian band Röyksopp – who in a live setting combine the cool, electronic genius of Kraftwerk with the sprawling, untamed noise-pop of Mogwai – I can’t help but be perturbed by several new breeds of annoying concert-goer around me. And yes, I know, I should just stay-at-home, but it’s a tradition that at the start of spring Mrs. Pop lets me out of the house for a few hours.

So, here they are:
Fan Who Knows Which Song It Is Before Everyone Else. You know, the one who starts to whoop or shriek before everyone else does, just to show that they already recognise the song a mere two bars in. That would be the super-fan twat directly to my left. Of course he could be just doing it on every song, and we’d have no idea whether he really knew which song this was or not, unless the band announced at the end they’d only written it that afternoon. Which doesn’t happen often.

Fan Who Knows When The Song Ends Before Everyone Else. Same bloke to my left. Gets his cheering and clapping in first as the song winds down. Almost visibly shakes his head when fans prematurely applaud at a beat-free bridge, thinking the song’s over when it’s not. Tsk, fools.

Funny Three-Second Dance Man. It’s always a man. Looks at mate or girlfriend and does a deviant wacko-dance with a crayzee expression for a few seconds, because he suddenly needs the attention or something. That was the bloke in front of me, whose mate, commendably, ignored him every time. He then tried it on me, but only once.

Repeat Everything The Band Says In A Mock Norwegian Accent Fan. That would be the tossers behind me. Because English isn’t Röyksopp’s first language ha ha. Get it?

Right Hand In The Air Fan. Back to the annoying specimen on my left who, when he’s not raising his hands to take crappy mobile phone footage, thrusts his right arm in the air and then makes forward-pointing gestures to the beat, as though taunting football fans in the away end. As the night goes on, more and more people join him, and that’s when it all gets way too ravey-wavy for me.

Not that I ever went to a rave. An event where everyone was temporarily happy and accepting of each other only thanks to pharmaceutical innovation was never going to be my kind of thing. But this is what it looked like on TV when the news showed footage of mass Love Parades – thousands of fists pumping the air simultaneously and people happily bobbing up and down like toddlers on a trampoline.

Please understand that I’m not saying men of my generation shouldn’t dance, I’m just saying that men like me shouldn’t be there to see it. It’s not like my dancing’s any better. I generally look like a spider-legged chicken who’s just been shot in the groin. And besides, my spring night out was a huge success – wonderfully loud and chaotic electronic pop, and tons of stuff to complain about.


Gorilla Bananas said...

Hah, I like the finger pointing gesture! One day they're going to pick someone's nose by accident.

nathan3e said...

Interesting as always Ian. The only band that could get me out of the house for a live performance right now is Michael Gira's reformed Swans. The volume of their live show disables anyone who came to chat, their refusal to perform songs as recorded precludes the Oh! I Know This Song factor, and Gira's demonstrated willingness to (literally) come off the stage and attack the people you describe keeps everyone on their best behavior.

I hasten to point out that it is not only concerts where such people turn out. My wife and I saw Julian Schnabel do a Q&A after a screening of his new film at the Walker Art Center last Friday. The first two questions came from, as they always do, hostile film students. Dutch Film Student: Why is so much of the dialogue in English? Schnabel: (Confused pause) Have you ever been in Israel? Dutch film student: No. The second interrogator managed the neat trick of getting an auditorium of polite film goers to turn on her in less than 60 seconds.

No Good Boyo said...

Pop - The mind of a spider in the body of a chicken.

I don't know whether you watch Peep Show, but if not I reckon you'll enjoy this:

Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop said...

Boyo - I should change that to my strapline at the top of the page. We indeed have the first six seasons of Peep Show and are avid consumers - classic clip, that, and probably exactly what I would have done, worried that "isn't there just a small chance that if I take this I might die". Or have a good time.

Nathan - I once had a Swans record I bought at a jumble sale, with a pretty flower on the cover. Apart from a rumbling opener that worked quite well, the cover remained my favourite thing about it.

GB - your ability to live in the African jungle and also be 'first commenter' every time wins you a SAHIP Devotion Award. We at SAHIP HQ salute your loyalty.

nathan3e said...

Ian -

The Swans record to which you refer is The Burning World from 1989, their least harsh offering by a considerable distance.

From the world of music you actually do like: There is a splendid new Burial 12" out now.

Mark Sanderson said...

As elitist as it sounds, I have often found seeing bands play live a bit of a depressing experience. Mainly, because I more often that not leave the venue thinking, dear God, I spend my spare time listening to the same music as a lot of complete twats. I recall seeing Arthur Lee at the Brook in Southampton, which is a fairly small venue. I had found a good nook from which to see the band, but the gig itself will be remembered for man behind me who spend the entire gig talking loudly about his week in the office.

No Good Boyo said...

The finest thing the Swans ever did was write a song called "Time Is Money (Bastard)".

Not a great song - proto-Laibach chanting - despite having the normally win-win use of brackets, but an excellent title nonetheless.

Nice Dunkel und Gold record cover, too.

nathan3e said...

Allow me to jump back in with some pedantry. Time Is Money (Bastard) is indeed not a great song, but the Laibach reference is not an apt one. I do not know that anyone other than Laibach had heard Laibach until Mute started releasing their records in the mid/late 80s.

And the finest thing Swans have done is on their wonderful new album; a song called You Fucking People Make Me Sick, which Gira wrote after spending some time on Pitchfork.

No Good Boyo said...

Yes, Nathan, hence the "proto-".

Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop said...


The song I really liked off The Burning World is the opening track 'The River That Runs With Love Won't Run Dry.' I read somewhere that the LP is rare and barely available, but an excited search of eBay hoping for ridiculously high offers quickly turned to disappointment. Still, as a special courtesy to SAHIP readers, anyone here willing to sign over their houses and all their possessions to me can have it for free.

nathan3e said...

Fight indeed. One would think that an Editor and an English major would spot the proto before ranting. One would be wrong. Nathan 0 Boyo 1.

The ready availability of the best tracks from Burning World on a Swans compilation called Various Failures has kept the eBay prices down. Sorry Ian. You may not have my house.

Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop said...

Aw, just as I was getting ready to welcome millions of new readers thanks to a traffic-generating, goth-related cyber-brawl, you go and back down like a gentleman. Looks like it's back to creating saucy headlines. (The entry about 'horny housewives' is, depressingly, by far the most viewed SAHIP blog entry of the past month. But what did I expect?)

My copy of Burning World has been sent to the back of the pile in disgrace.

No Good Boyo said...

A pleasure to discuss recondite music with you all!