Saturday, December 17, 2005

Fatboy Slim @ Brixton Academy

Have had a very lazy day today recovering from a superb evening at the Brixton Academy where Fatboy Slim was bringing his Palookavision tour. This had been my first clubbing event for a fair few years and I wasn't sure if I'd last the night, especially given the fact I'd had the work do the night before and no chance to recuperate having to work during the day. Fatboy was headlining for 2 and a half hours but we had another 2 warm acts to go; DJ Yoda and The Scratch Perverts.

DJ Yoda started up first playing from 9-11. A DJ I've been wanting to see for a long time, I'm a big fan of his cut and paste albums. He has won the DMC mixing championships in the past and is now a judge so he definitely has the skills behind the decks. Labelled by DJ Magazine as "one of the DJs you must see before you die" I was finally able to put a tick in that box. It was a real shame that he was the first act up as we got into a fairly empty Brixton Academy and he was playing to very few people. In his defence by the end of the set he had got the crowd going, which was his job.

He mixes hip hop with old 80s tracks so you'll find dancing to NOP mixed with Van Halen or AHA with Beastie Boys. All good party tunes. Being Christmas he also dropped some Christmas stuff into his set including a very funny Run DMC "Rock the Christmas Bells" bootleg I've heard before.

Technology has clearly made life easy for the DJ as Yoda had all his music on an Apple Laptop. Somehow he had wired the decks to it so he could still use his scratch skills to manipulate the mp3s. Very strange, and didn't make much viewing, but then we were there to dance not trainspot! Big tune was probably my Karaoke classic "Song 2" by Blur.

Scratch Perverts were up next. Like Yoda, these guys have won DMC battles in the past both as individuals and as a team. They've now retired from the battling to focus on their live act. As with Yoda, there's not much to look at, as happens with the warm up acts. But what these guys lacked visually they made up with sonically with some superb tracks mixed like never before.

As well as playing great tracks they also make their own compositions from scratching records on different decks, or from looping feedback through the mixer. Plus 1 is an absolutely demon scratcher and his hand was a blur as he ran his crabs over the fader (those who know anything about scratching will know what I'm on about!)

I've seen these guys a few times before and have been trying to convert my friends to them, by the time the set was over my job had been done, even though they didn't have their full set up (I've seen them mixing on 6 decks and 6 CDJs, last night they just had 4 decks). Everyone was quite mental to these guys as they mixed hip hop, old school, breaks and drum and bass into 90 minutes of madness. Unlike Yoda they were playing vinyl, I guess they had to. I doubt there is any software that can emulate their DJ skills. Best track was probably a 20 minute Prodigy mash up.

And then finally we had the main act, Fatboy Slim, who I last saw years ago in a DJ soundclash with Armand Van Helden at the same venue. The decks were removed from the stage and a back curtain dropped to reveal a huge video screen, with Fatboy Slim behind some decks in its centre. This was his Palookavision screen which has followed him on tour which acts as the main visuals in the show. After a short intro the screen flashed up the warning message "Time to put your glasses on" which we had been handed on the way in. These looked like 3D glasses but were actually some sort of holographic lense that split spotlights into 2 smiley faces. I couldn't get a picture of the effect but found this pic that shows it.

This really made the venue look really strange as every available light was suddenly transformed into smiling faces adding to the positive feeling around the place.

The set was classic Fatboy Slim, lots of bouncy housey mixes and exclusive bootlegs and an initial overuse of the "Fatboy Slim is fuckin in heaven" sample, which does grate after hearing it the 20th time. But his set was superb and everyone was really into it. The visual show was stunning and a lot of fun to watch, as were the dancing girls that came out every now and then to provide some entertainment on the stage. There were also inflatable smileys bouncing around the crowd and glitter cannons towards the end. The visual display turned the screen into a pacman video game, a series of explosions, and a flight around the earth, amongst others. He also had a camera pointing at the decks that could put him on screen, he would write messages on the record sleeves like "are we having fun yet" and hold it up to the camera for us all to see. It was also cool to put the crowd up on the screen which happened a few times too. Quite appropriately given it was the opening weekend of King Kong we also had a segment featuring a man in a gorilla suit dancing.

The best track was played towards the end and mixed the kids singing sample from Gorillaz "Clint Eastwood" with his "Praise You" track. (Did you like the tenuous Gorilla link there?)

At 3am his act came to a close and it was time to go home. Some of my mates were going off to a house for more partying but I'd had such a good night I was happy to end it there. I'm also pleased with myself for being able to keep dancing all night. I know I had the stamina level in me somewhere. Maybe it was the redbull or something else that helped ;) My clubbing gene has been reignited. I can definitely see myself heading off to more events from now on. We've already talked about seeing the Perverts again as they have a residency at a club 10 minutes from work.
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