Arriving at Corsica Studios in a slightly sketchy part of the slightly-sketchy-in-the-first-place Elephant and Castle produces a weirdly positive feeling. The best venues around are clearly the ones with at least a hint of menace to them – whether it’s the possibility of an antiquated ceiling falling in on you or a chance of getting mugged when you leave the club, it makes a refreshing change from floating around the general safety of the capital’s CCTV-covered arenas.
Corsica – a great venue as it turns out – is tonight hosting the album launch party of Nathan Fake, whose second record proper, ‘Hard Islands’, is pretty bloody good by the way (REVIEW). Fake isn’t playing til 2am, so we explore the bar, heavily, and a small outside area, which contains a tiny one-person tent with several people’s body parts spilling out amidst much laughter. Obviously.
Soon enough, 2am rolls around and we scamper to the main room. There’s a problem. Approximately 9,000 people also have the same idea. The main room resembles a giant moshpit and despite best efforts to dance our way nearer the stage, my photographer and I are told in no uncertain terms that we won’t be moving any further. Bizarrely, waving a camera at people and shouting “PRESS!” only seems to aggravate the situation. Bastards. Fortunately, we speak to the very kind record label rep who shows us a sneaky outside entrance that takes us to the front of the stage – still rammed but just about room enough. Have that, Joe Public.
Fake’s live set incorporates amped-up versions of most the album material as well as blending in other synthy techno creations that sit very well with the juxtaposing trippy/hard electronica vibe of the album. Things remain exactly the right side of danceable throughout the set and the crowd lap up every jittery beat and wonky synth melody, particularly during stand-out album tracks ‘The Turtle’ and ‘Fentiger’, which sound just as good live as they do on record.
Though only on for an hour, it’s all he needs – much like ‘Hard Islands’, the set is a short, sharp burst of extremely high-quality electronica, giving the impression that Fake has been both producing and playing live for far longer than his 26 years would suggest.
While Fake has been on, Dan Snaith has been spinning tunes in the other room and doing a damn fine job. Normally associated with the lush, psychedelic alt. pop of his (wonderful) band Caribou, Snaith proves he has an equally fine grasp of matters electronic and rhythmical, relaying all sorts of dirty but danceable treats, from bassy tech-house to harder beat-driven offerings, some of which even have Caribou-esque melodies and xylophones layered over them. Marvellous.
Back to room one and James Holden – head honcho of the Border Community record label – is on the decks, spinning acid-tinged immensely danceable tunes, including Crystal Castles, the stand-out track (‘A New Error’) from the recent Moderat LP, some of his own tunes and – just for good measure – some Nathan Fake. A perfectly judged set and exactly what was needed for the wide-eyed and beautiful masses at this time.
To say that everyone enjoyed themselves would be a bit of an understatement. Hip as fuck it may have been, but it was also an absolute blast, due mainly to a wealth of electronic talent fronted by the continually impressive Nathan – definitely one to keep track of if tonight is anything to go by.
Photograph: Ed Lee