Tuesday, 1 December 2009

gigsplurge 20: digital hardcore records, november 2000

Alec Empire, Nic Endo & ec8or, Oxford Zodiac, 7 November 2000

Listening to Atari Teenage Riot in the late 90s was like hearing the Wu-Tang Clan five years earlier. Not nearly as good, of course, but in both cases the music sounded like the work of dangerous, unpredictable nutters whose live shows might descend into violent mayhem in the blink of an eye.

For the Wu, this proved deceptive. Travelling to see them in Brixton, GMS fully expected to be run out of town like a common pygmy, only to find a crowd far friendlier than most indie gigs. Atari Teenage Riot, though, courted confrontation, inciting trouble if it didn't find its way to them naturally.

A worthy stance, perhaps, against far-right agitators in the German techno scene, or against heavy handed police on the Continent; and always wedded to a thrilling amount of noise and righteous energy. But in Britain their confrontational approach always seemed blunted. At the LA2 in 1999 they had goaded ageing punkers until one pushed Alec Empire off a speaker stack; in a support slot at Brixton Academy, they had offended Foo Fighters fans with a barrage of white noise; on record, Empire had pre-empted Dangermouse by flaunting copyright and tearing up Elvis records. Amusing enough, and always worth the asking price; but the band might have sought out some more threatening, less conservative targets: Eastbourne on a Sunday would have been a place to start.

This gig--a showcase of DJ sets, preaching to the converted--abandoned even the confrontational posture. Frustratingly, enigmatic frontman Carl Crack skulked by the t-shirt stand all night, while Nic Endo tortured a small black box, Alec Empire showcased his burgeoning nu-metal inclinations from the DJ booth, and one of them other ones--ec8or, I'm thinking--provided a tidy set of chaotic techno. An intruguing, occasionally brilliant band tailing off not with a bang, but with a really really loud whimper.

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