The Week In Music
In the past week Village has gone DEAF, got savvy, dusted off the old glow sticks and got down to some disco beats.
The winter months seem to bring out the best in quality live music in Dublin. Looking back on the week that was, the Dublin Electronic Arts Festival (DEAF) began for Village in the rarefied surroundings of St. Audoen's Church. This 12th century church, the only medieval parish church existing in Dublin was the exciting venue for a most strange combination of the modern and the traditional. We caught a performance by Miya Masaoka, a Japanese-American musician, composer and multi-disciplinary performance artist, who plays the 17 string Japanese Koto. Described as a form of harp, the particular Koto that Masoka played appeared like a cello with its skin off, played face down, with the musician leaning over it. She then began to play a virtual Koto, using the laser strings that hovered over the actual instrument. A most distinctive performance followed, with Masaoka frantically plucking, poking, prodding and palming the laser strings from her position where the altar should be, creating an amazing soundscape, accompanied by fitting visuals from Tim Redfern.
With the night ahead promising electronic music galore, Village snuck off to get a guitar fix. Les Savy Fav provided this in spades. This American rock band are tight as a drum, playing hard and loud indie rock, along with the most energetic frontman seen this side an Iggy Pop gig. Like Mr. Pop, Tim Harrington enjoys taking off his clothes, but unlike the Motor city wildman, Harrington tends to put on different costumes afterwards. These multiple wardrobe modifications lean towards the scanty side of the lycra range, a highly inappropriate sight in a burly, bald, bearded man with feral eyes who slugs from a whisky bottle and climbs the speakers and balconies from the platform of the crowd on which he surfs. Village came very close to joining the semi-naked brigade of lads bouncing around the cave that is Crawdaddy, but settled for head-banging and loud exuberance. This Savy Fav gig topped their “legendary” performance at ATP earlier on this year. Don't let them pass you by.
Scooting downtown brought us to RíRá, where DEAF continued. Saturday night in this popular club is always busy, and as the festival was kindly charging reasonable prices for their shows, many of the punters seemed not to know they were supposed to be enjoying an Asian themed event, but were merely intent on having a good time to the house music. Across the road in Rogue, no such confusion was possible. Yuki:o were followed by Sketchpad, minimal techno producers and DJ's from Japan who played in an unfeasible cloud of disco smoke that only encouraged the crowd to dance harder.
Sunday boded well for DEAF, with the party continuing in the Uki Yo restaurant on Exchequer St. The karaoke booths downstairs were to be the venues for 12 sets from a wide variety of electronic music. On our arrival, the first booth featured three Irishmen, one of who was playing a rock. The other members of The Quiet Room played bongs, mobile phones, pointy pieces of metal and bowls. Their unique sound attracted a constant crowd around the door of their booth, emphasising the difficulties of playing in a space where three musicians could take up more space than the spectators. The intimacy of the venues made for some interesting experiments in sound. By standing between two rooms you could engage in some rudimentary mixing, such as between Jimmy Behan's quiet electronica and another Koto performance by Miya Masaoka, this time without lasers.
The DEAF closing party in RíRá featured a plethora of acts, the highlight of which had to be Underground Resistance. UR are legends in techno circles. They are often compared to Public Enemy, for their use of militant imagery, as well as their anti-commercial and political stance. Performing in balaclavas in the low roofed main room downstairs, UR's second ever show in Ireland was much anticipated and highly appreciated by their fans, who were left wanting much more.
Village took a breather until Thursday, when Modeselektor rolled into the Tivoli theatre. Initial signs were ominous – between DJ's a CD was playing to a large crowd, several of whom carried glowsticks. But the promise of a live performance by these exciting Germans dispelled all nervousness when the duo appeared. The first half of the show was storming, their distinctive explorations of the weirder sides of techno going down a treat. Then they went too far. Modeselektor went so far to the dark side of techno that they actually played Scooter. Not just briefly, but for extended periods of time. The irony laden set became bogged down in trance and happy hardcore, a joke too far. This didn't stop the vast majority of the crowd from hugely enjoying themselves all the way through, so maybe I just didn't get it. Although that's highly unlikely.
Final gig of the week was in the Underground at Kennedy's bar on Westland Row. Oddly devoid of the teeming crowd usually to be found there on a Saturday night, there was plenty of room on the floor for boogying to an exhilarating live set of Italo disco and Dutch electro from Hague based DJ Pauli. If this musical terminology is incomprehensible to you, do not worry. Suffice it to say that neither features the punishing four-to-the-floor beat of techno, nor the wimpyness of actual disco. It's intelligent dance music that's fun to move to, especially when performed live as opposed to a DJ set, leaving you safe in the knowledge that an actual musician is a work .