Here’s one about a DJ who toured Australia. The occasion was the DJ Producer (read the comments behind that link to get an idea of what many hardcore techno gabber types think of him) and while musical instrument-playing purists may argue one particular old chestnut — that to play pre-recorded music is not a ‘proper’ gig — this was a monster occasion in every sense other than the fact that there weren’t a bunch of people on a stage playing stringed instruments. On the other hand, it was a club venue (Inflation), so I’m counting it as a Memorable Club Moment.
The DJ Producer smashes Melbourne
The DJ Producer. Not actually in Melbourne in this photo. Pic: Discogs.com
There are a couple of reasons why this night remains memorable, despite the grandiose volume of alcohol consumed and the fact that it occurred almost10 years ago.
In 2007 (yes, it was that long ago) I had kind of started to get into hardcore techno, gabber and breakcore. I had genuine dreams of DJing this kind of music at actual club nights and (perhaps somewhat naively) I made a point of purchasing a whole bunch of this music on vinyl. I was determined to somehow be the real deal, whatever that was, and, as this still the pre-streaming-everything or even pre-everything-is-on-YouTube era (remember, YouTube only started in 2005), I refused to torrent download any music. I would build up my Totally Awesome DJ Collection one record at a time, learning Mad DJ Skillz with each new acquisition. Because vinyl records.
As a direct consequence, my general knowledge and understanding of gabber and hardcore techno remained extremely limited. Specifically, what I knew of gabber and hardcore was mostly on the relatively few vinyl records in my collection, which usually got listened to while actually DJing in my bedroom — in other words, only two thirds of each record would actually be heard, since the rest of them had to be cued up. On the other hand, I had an unsurpassed knowledge of all the first 32 bars of some bangin’ electronic tunes.
As a mid-20-something on my first full-time income, any lack of common sense was made up for with boundless belief and enthusiasm. And since I actually owned releases by at least three of the people on the bill, I felt I had totally found my calling.
Why was it so great and memorable?
It’s a terribly clichéd pursuit in post-show accounts to rattle off DJ names and smother each one with slightly different but otherwise indistinguishable dollops of saccharine adulation. Instead, I’ll list the acts I had looked forward to seeing and explain what was truly great about each one.
Yes, PaulBlackout is apparently the correct spelling (as compared to Paul Blackout).
He plays heavy and dark drum n’ bass — and at this gig it was like nothing I’d ever heard before. I’d never been to a drum n’ bass night, let alone a hardcore techno gabber night, and here was a guy who played the former while not shying away from the latter.
It was on this occasion that I discovered that drum n’ bass — when it’s good — is wonderful owing to the fact that it’s bizarrely accessible. If you want to dance, anyone can move at whatever speed works for them — and if you add an entire new level of crashing heaviness on top of it is becomes music that anyone can headbang and mosh to, at whatever speed works for them. I’m a metal head at heart (and so is Paul apparently) and this was unequivocally an immensely heavy set.
Incidentally, I love the Desolate Ways EP, especially the monster first track.
Mark N (i.e. Mark Newlands)
Mark happened to be the person that sold me most of my vinyl and I can genuinely say that, if asked, I never got a bad recommendation. I’d seen him play two or three times prior and came to realise that no two sets were ever the same.
What got played was what someone else at a later and unrelated show once described (are you following me?) as “the definition of breakcore”. No doubt Mark would cringe at such an epithet (and possibly say something acerbic), so allow me to clarify first.
The conversation I’m referring to occurred on another occasion with someone I met, at another venue, after a breakcore gig at which Mark happened it play. At one time, after talking about music we liked, this person mentioned how breakcore at its best was when everything got thrown into one ugly mix — techno, drum n’ bass, hip hop, pop mashups, ‘humorous’ samples, turntablism, and everything else.
And that is what got played. Savage, dark and heavy drum n’ bass one moment, rave-speed hip hop the next, dropped on top of something filthy and nasty and terrible doing near 190bpm if not more, and many other things in between.
The DJ Producer
Up until I attended this gig, most of the industrial music I’d seen played out relied heavily on the audience knowing how and when everything went together. These 4 on the floor dance tunes generally had a start, a middle bit, and something at the end to tell you what to do next. Not so with the DJ Producer.
It was hard. It was fast. It was intense, crazy, and it took heavy music to a whole new depth I never realised could be reached. There were breaks, there were thunderous passages of fist-bashing techno, there were moments where it was toned down just long enough to let you catch your breath, before it resumed once more at full attack speed.
This was electronic music and it was heavy like I’d never known. And when it was over I clapped and cheered with the rest of the audience, breathless and sweating from such a roaring set. I was overjoyed that I’d found something that spoke to me so darkly, yet I was also saddened, for “heavy” for me would never quite be the same.
So this is what this music is really about, I thought.
Then some time afterwards, I was told, on good authority, that the DJ Producer’s set was comparatively tame.
- Previous awesome club moment #1
- Next awesome club moment #3