The Friday of Incubate dawned bloody. And waking up in Tjeerd’s eldest son’s room momentarily freaked me out. After all, a hungover gent should never have to encounter Lego in a state of mild distress. Once sorted and full of Brabants worst, it was time for more action. The first act we took in was Sex Swing in Hall of Fame (the old industrial/new skating complex on the other side of the railway tracks). Sex Swing are - to all intents and purposes - a drone supergroup, boasting Colin Webster, Stuart Bell, and Jason Stoll from Mugstar. Unassuming, and not too concerned in putting on a show (outside of ensuring everything clicked musically), the ‘Swing nevertheless laid down a fearsome racket in Hall of Fame. The show was much more straightforwardly “trippy” than I was expecting. I have to admit I thought Colin Webster would lead the charge and take us into more refined and maybe ambiguous territory. But the band kept the music straight down the line; the bass acting as a piston whilst the rest of the group spat out white hot shards of sound that stuck to the ceiling and dripped down onto the audience.
Off to East India Youth, playing the place I dislike the most at Incubate, MIDI. Up on the cold, high stage, William Doyle hammered through his brilliant synth pop as if the world was ending. This is the one thing you always get from East India Youth; utter commitment to the cause. I have written before that he is a misfit, a figure who puzzles people because they can’t pin him down. The only thing he has to offer audiences is his music, and how he plays it. Even then this gambit always takes time to bear fruit because his music is totally bereft of artifice, or fashionable reference. This means that the quiet tracks, while brilliantly sculpted and sincere essays in classic pop, are always risky. The pauses and subtle changes in both sound and mood can mean people start looking round, wondering if everything’s going to get all maudlin. And not knowing what is coming next is very much OFF the agenda for many. Regardless, when he did kick off it was - as ever- marvellous. Doyle also took advantage of a monumentally big stage by bouncing round it like a retriever off the leash. And the fact that his equipment needed an emergency mid-gig fix using gaffer tape just made everything better, and dodgier. Like a vacuum cleaner salesman who finds his demonstration nozzle attachments got smashed in the back of the Mondeo, Doyle just gritted his teeth and carried on to set up a triumphant ending. All the while his lappy fizzed, spluttered and snarled out an amplified set of death throws. After this we sloped back to Hall of Fame for Dope Body, whose lithesome grooves and Blast First-style noise rock (played art ear-wrenchingly LOUD volume) was really winning round a steadily growing crowd. The singer had this enervating (and much cleaner) upgrade of Gibby Haines’s thing going on. It was a really great gig, chock full of all of the best and most essential rock and roll tropes; and to be honest I can’t really find anything else to take from it but that.
In Extase, people were grooving along to Anton Newcombe & Tess Parks and later, The Warlocks. Whilst mildly distracting there’s little else to say about these two gigs outside of the fact they were exactly as we thought they would be. We took in part of a marvellously atmospheric King Midas Sound and Fennesz set at MIDI before pegging off to Leafcutter John at NS16. Only for the little imp to be late on stage. We could have easily got sucked into Midas’s scene, but there you go you makes your choice and end up sitting on a floor in some slightly posh “renovated” art space and watch a load of coder types shuffle nervously around whilst mucking about on laptops. When Leafcutter John did play (his sprite-like demeanour somehow reminding me of Yan from BSP) it was worth it. Once he had asked everyone to check that the sound levels weren’t too loud, Leafcutter John waved a set of “hand-held devices” over his gear. A kaleidoscope of noises tore through the room, and we all got down and groovy with this intriguing display of sonic/coded bric a brac. John even let others play, telling the audience to waggle their phones over his set up. It was great. Still; luddites like me will never know, or really understand what is going on with all this circuit and chip bending. In some ways it’s very much like being a poor benighted Viking or Saxon pagan watching on as some Celtic Christian missionary enacts some miracle of faith. Or one of a bunch of head-scratching, gaitered yokels standing round a cat’s whiskers set in the 1920s. It sounded ace; a set of sounds and inner visions from the future that have punctured the membrane currently surrounding us. I can only think of earthbound descriptions; a meteorite plunging into a forest, or a blacksmith’s anvil crashing through an iced over stream. Regardless, it was great. Got that?
After this we wandered off to Paradox to get utterly out of all time and space with Rapoon. Dark, thick, congealed drones swallowed the room and the visuals got all pyramidical and space-like on our collective ass. We lounged around, whacked out, as if at the end of some all day raving. Rapoon sat behind his lappy like some high priest in a stone chair; deliberating which idiot would be next to have their heart ripped out. This was an intense gig, despite its supposedly supine nature.
Actually, we couldn’t move. Crushed by Rapoon, we sat around drinking lunatic Belgian ales and eating the free nuts, waiting for Dirty Electronics. Dirty Electronics were great. Two fellas John Richards’ (Mr Dirty Electronics to you and me) and close collaborator Nicholas Bullen from Napalm Death made squidgy noises from behind a table using what looked like, and probably were, household gadgets. The whole scene was mildly bucolic in a “sniffing the jars of grease in the shed” kinda way. Imagine two blokes in their prime on the wag from a trip to Ikea, finding the time to make noise with “found sounds” on a woodwork bench in a shed. Tops eh? Practical and low-key revolutionaries. You get my drift? We participated in the scene, as Dirty Electronics often encourage people to do. Some swayed, some quietly gibbered, some blinked and nodded along. We used the power of our idiot imaginations to openly wonder what these two chaps sounded like. What could we say these noises they were making actually were. Owls? Gilbert & George? Aliens? George Formby reincarnated as a giant blue bottle? Probably all of these things. After this nothing was making any sense, so we traipsed off to the hotel to sleep the sleep of the just.