It’s been a bloody long time since I leaped around like a hyperactive toddler to bouncy, electronic music. I thought I’d left the days of superstar DJs, pounding bass and, well, ‘beautiful people’ were well-and-truly behind me. These days, I’m all about beards, cardigans and gentle folk. I might get a little bit ‘garaged up’ occasionally, but that’s more likely to be getting excited about obscure LSD-tinged 1960s rock than it us about South London dubstep. Or somefink.
It was with some trepidation, then, that I joined the queue of party people waiting outside the Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris the other night. Things didn’t get going until very late, it was the night before Christmas eve, it was bloody cold, I had had a raging coffee-inspired headache for most of the day, I hadn’t had enough to drink and Soulwaxmas was about to begin – a hedonistic celebration of buzzing, beeping and, erm, bass. I had been very tempted to stay a home. But, oh, what fun we had.
Soulwaxmas is, basically, a wandering Christmas festival set up by the brothers Dewaeles, a pair of not very cool looking Belgians who spent years slogging away with their band Soulwax, before finding fame as 2manyDJs, basially a DJ ‘collective’ that first popularized the concept of the ‘mash up’. I’ve looked this up. Soulwax and 2ManyDJs were joined on the bill by a number of shit hot (or so I’m informed) dance Faces – notably Erol Alkan and Jimmy Saville. One of those wasn’t actually there.
Souxwax were first up, I’ve never been a huge fan of them on record. Live, they got the kids jumping; a mixture of rocky electro-synths, combined with the most impressive lazer show I’ve seen this side of Jean-Michel Jarre. Soulwax, with their unfashionable white tuxedos, are, come to think of it, distinctly Jarre-esque, maybe the dirty disco bastard nephews. I don’t think JMJ ever rocked London Docklands to the refrain of ‘drugs, dirty dancing and pounding techno music.
The mighty Erol Alkan followed. Lots of fist pumping was involved. I got the opportunity to see first-hand exactly how hairy the man is. Put simply, the man is, a DJ legend (based on my particularly limited appreciation of the skills required…I thought Dave Lee Travis was good.). The undisputed highlight, for me, at least, was Waves, Alkan’s own track, performed with Chilly Gonzales, and a four-piece live guitar onslaught. Seriously.
It all started to go a little blurry when 2manyDjs came on. There’s a load of clips of their set on YouTube. On record, their mashups are fun; but live, they take them to the next dimension. We got it all Guns and Roses, Mr Oizo, Beethove, Donna Summer, MGMT, the mighty AC/DC, Justice. As well as the music, they pulled out all the stops with a cracking light show (son et lumière, anyone?) – animating the album covers of the music they were playing. It sounds, naff but works so so well. Go see them. I promise you will have a blast.
I leaped around like a loon. A loon that has had his limbs replaced by high-tension springs and been injected full of coffee. To put it simply, it wasn’t clever, it wasn’t the pretentious beard stroking that I’m such a fan of, but it was a hell of a lot of fun. Note to self, you are actually allowed to have fun at a live music event. Hmmmmm.