NME Indie-Rave Tour
New Young Pony Club, Klaxons, and CSSEdit this event
There’s an easy way to find Hammersmith Palais tonight: a quick glance around the fellow passengers alighting from the train, noting the ones carrying pastel coloured plastic tubes, pastel coloured plastic necklaces or pastel coloured plastic bracelets. These items are, of course, glo-sticks pre-glow, and they are all making their steady way to the Palais for the NME-curated ‘Indie-Rave’ tour. To find the Palais, follow the glowing trail.
I am a late arrival – I can hear that CSS are on stage, but the sound is muffled by the thousands in front of me in the cavernous expanse – it’s a ten-minute scramble through an assault course of beer-sticky floor, swaying drinkers and bouncing day-glo to reach a point where I can both see and hear the Brazilians without risk of being gradually crushed by an audience who are frothing at the mouth in the presence of Lovefoxxx, who is teasing and taunting from the front of stage, slowly moving towards the hands that await her, before spinning and bounding back away from them.
CSS’s singer is a human incarnation of fun, delivering songs with complete irreverence, devoting more energy to her endless dancing, twisting and turning. The audience know the songs, a ream of singles that are instant sugary pop hits – ’Alala’, ‘Patins’, ‘Let’s Make Love…’ – and wave their arms right towards the stage as each hook ensnares them, pulling them closer to the bodies they want to touch. The fact that they already know the material is paramount to their enjoyment – if they didn’t know when to expect a chorus, they might not have noticed them, as CSS live are a much squelchier, sloppier version of their neatly recorded selves. It’s not a bad thing per se – live music shouldn’t be about the exact representation of recorded material for po-faced music fans standing motionless in a square room.
If CSS’s songs boil down to a base-level desire for messy drunken kissing, hands groping in the dark and a an overtly silly party, then Klaxons are in a way completely opposite – instead, the trio try to reach for an apocalyptical unreality far, far away from basic human desires. Muse aim for the apocalypse too, but Muse try harder, try too seriously. Klaxons share the irreverence of CSS, playing faster and more aggressively than on record, but never with too much precision; sometimes they miss vocal cues, dropping out of time completely, brilliantly. ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ is the cue for the glosticks to create a flurry of lights above the audience, a throbbing and multicoloured constellation that moves in time to a band reaching out to the preternatural with chanted choruses that grow bigger upon each repetition. Meanwhile, the band are having to dodge a steady fire of said sticks from the audience, creating a stage littered with thin rainbow-coloured tubes.
Then chaos really starts to ensue – first a mystery guest appears on stage and grabs a microphone, apparently completely unplanned as the band exchange glances with each other. I assume, from my distance, that it must be Lovefoxxx, still bouncing away in her endless way, but the band end up introducing and thanking Akiko of the band Comanechi, whose appearance has little explanation but is the start of a stage invasion of all the bands joining Klaxons, playing a sloppy Sunshine Underground number and then racing through a ridiculously elated cover of Grace’s ‘It’s Not Over Yet.’
It’s not a rave by any stretch of the imagination, but there is no need for sneering at bands who are uniting an audience into a dancing mass of smiling faces and high spirits. When did your average indie band ever manage that?
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