London at Night(life): The Long Weekend

Welcome to the Front Room at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Friday February 26. They didn’t put on nights like this when I was a kid. (Well, they didn’t have nights like this to put on!)

Yes, that does look like a young Peter Buck on the black Rickenbacker. Warp Records’ The Hundred Hands, all the way from Brooklyn, had a nice “female vocal and keys over shoegazing guitar and copious beats” thing going on, but the experience was, if not exactly ruined, then certainly affected by the guitarist’s Buck infatuation. It was, seriously, eery. There was also too much by way of effects; the music was better when it was smoother. Apparently that’s the Savoy Hotel over the river in the background.

Kompakt’s Matias Aguayo and Daniel Maloso came together as Coméme to seriously rock the house – or the Front Room, to be precise. High-impact, computer-twisted techno, nothing like Aguayo’s recorded work and perfect for the post-pub rush.

Juan MacLean has grown a beard and then some since I last saw him perform – which was on Hunter Mountain, close to my new home but a long way from my old South London domain where he was closing out the night at the Front Room. Looking rather ominously composed considering the state of the young crowd, MacLean pounded it hard; I specifically remember a great segue from his group’s own “Happy House” to Soulwax’s “NY excuse.” The Front Room is a great place to spend a Friday night: polite security, free coat check, sizeable drink pours, good sound, and that view across the river.

Welcome now to Hootenanny in Brixton, the pub formerly known (to those of us who rode the bus past it twice a day in the 1970s and 80s) as the George Canning. Latin Dub Soundsystem, the second of three bands on the bill on Saturday February 26, were infectious and effusive, though they were as likely to incorporate ska and gypsy styles as faro or tango. The night was free, it ran from 9pm-3am, and it seemed like there were 200 languages being spoken among the 600 or so people in attendance. A great ad for the new multi-culti London.

Sunday afternoons at the Lock Tavern in Chalk Farm promise “hung over DJs” but on Sunday Feb 27th The Project Club went one better: they hadn’t been to bed! Oddly enough, the music flowed, though the duo’s, um, state of mind was perhaps better reflected when the guitarist fell off the 12″ “stage” while the programmer went out on the deck for a fag! The Lock Tavern offers free Bloody Marys with your Sunday Roast, though I was more enamored by the sight of a humous plate and some bowls of French Fries, I mean chips – and a decent pint of Sharp’s Doom Bar Bitter all the way from Cornwall.

Finally, my good mate Chris Coco on the decks at the NeedWant Lock Tavern party. Apparently he played a “NY” set in homage to Yours Truly. I noticed “Native New Yorker” neatly inserted into a mostly contemporary set but have to admit that otherwise, good music to me is just good music – and Chris knows good music. Listen to his Melodica show (and his own productions) from his web site here. PS: Chris recommends the oak-aged Innis & Gunn bottled beer.

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December 2021