Made In Japan

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Last night I was brought along to the Made in Japan benefit, an ATP Concert (All Tomorrow’s Parties) thrown to raise funds for the Japanese disaster.

Truthfully, if it wasn’t for charity (all proceeds went directly to the Japanese Red Cross), I wouldn’t have been that bothered about going. It’s just not a gig that would whet my altogether-too-limited musical appetite. But I’m very much glad I did – proving that if you don’t actually go to things, you’re not really entitled to an opinion on them. Judge for yourself!

The gig took place at the Kentish Town HMV Forum (which I’d never been to before despite it being walking distance from me), and acts on the bill were the cutesy / offensively-titled experimental act Fuck Buttons, followed by and improvised / jam set from Squarepusher, then headlined by LFO, along with DJ support from Declan Allen and N>E>D.

No, it didn’t mean that much to me 24 hours ago, either. But going on Graham’s advice (he’s a much bigger music geek-guru than I am), I was reliably informed that Fuck Buttons were going to be the highlight, and were the first act to perform.

We arrived at the Forum nice and early, and were met with some very not cool ticket touts attempting to scrounge off a charitable event. Disgraceful. Words were had; I hope they felt the smallest semblance of shame, although truthfully, I doubt their selfish money-grabbing souls had the capacity to feel empathy for people suffering around them, let alone on the other side of the world.

Once we’d made our way past the aggressive door staff (absolute disdain at my bottle of squash…calm down! I was thirsty on my way back from work! Squash doesn’t usually contain vodka or drugs!), we got inside the Forum, which struck me as one of London’s better gig venues: cavernous converted theatre, large long bars, great acoustics.

Drinks weren’t cheap (around the £4 mark for both singles-mixers and pint), but that’s to be expected. And at £5 a pop, the raffle tickets weren’t cheap either, but it was all for charity and the volume and quality of donated prizes on offer was quite staggering (ATP festival chalets, CDs, vinyls, clothing and other rare music merchandise). I came away with promotional copies of a Maida Vale session version of Hot Chip on 7” vinyl, and a double album set of The Beach Boys. Both right up my street and will be enjoyed (ignoring lack of 7” vinyl player).

To the bands themselves: Fuck Buttons absolutely smashed their set. Graham had raved about seeing them at Primavera Sound festival last year, and having described them as “tuneful noise”, I was expecting a bit of a racket. And while they were certainly noisy (both of us wore ear plugs for a lot of the night and my ears are still ringing today), it was the melodies that really appealed. There were elements of trance, tribal beats (the drummer stood, face-on to the crowd, like a Maori battler), strange wailings into the mic, and repetitions that kept working their way up until the minute you thought they got boring, then switched. I found myself bobbing along to the beats, and considering a whole new genre of music that never would’ve appealed if I hadn’t seen them live (I’m more of a ‘need lyrics’ kind of gal).

Next up was Squarepusher, whose presence I could barely make out through all the dry ice and trance-like green rays. Again, not being an expert on the genre, from what I heard I enjoyed (an incredibly skilled bassist), while the exceptionally heavy drum’n’bass tunes worked the crowd up into a frenzy. Unfortunately, by the time LFO were on stage, I was losing interest slightly, and don’t think I can comment intelligently here as it would be quite unfair to judge them on their genre. Not to my tastes, but clearly a completely skilled set ,complemented by the trippy, monotonous light display going on in the background.

All in all, an unexpectedly fantastic night, demonstrating the need for an ever-enquiring, open mind and highlighting the dangers of musical complacency. I tried on Made in Japan, and it fitted nicely.

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