Hackney Central has often felt slightly post-apocalyptic. But on this warm September evening the end was certainly nigh. It was the last in the series of Clash’s three autumnal Electric Selection gigs. And we were going out in loud, proud style. Our triptych of closing acts all tinker with the vision of future dance music, but all do it in such distinctly individual ways.
Sega Bodega, our favourite Caledonian / Catalonian rave prince, lugged his synths from a new pad in Peckham and proceeded to dazzle. Firm facts will be hard to proffer here. His set was a glistening ride across cerebral and complex instrumentals, none of which have been played before – nor, in fact, released. His music is so personal and emotional that it almost becomes an experience of synaesthesia.
Bright splashes of neon green melody spray from his keyboard. Weird, off-kilter rhythmic breakdowns haemorrhage the form and structure of traditional drums as the music dissolves into a hiss of white before his sublime, liquid, low-frequency crescendos rush back with a flood of red. This was a set that hugely elevated Sega Bodega as a fascinating future prospect.
As delicate and refined as was Sega Bodega’s music, then Darq E Freaker was the heavy counterpoint. This grime producer set off in a more rugged and direct departure with a heavy handed DJ set. Freaker sealed his name of international repute with his 2012 track ‘Blueberry (Pills & Cocaine)’ for US rapper Danny Brown. And after tidy releases on Numbers, Tru Thoughts and Big Dada this member of the Nu Brand Flexxx is now something of a big deal. His fierce DJ set reflected this. Aggressive swells of mid-range frequencies jarred, staccato drums dizzied our heads and violent subs itched our noses. It was an all out assault and by far the most powerful set of our September series.
As Freaker receded into the darkness of the stage and Josh Idehen stalked on stage, it was a relief to have a physical presence to latch our attentions on to. LV, a pair of furtive producers, emanated complex 2-step rhythms and throbs of bass to the rear of the stage. Meanwhile, Idehen (also the frontman of Benin City) leapt about down the front adopting differing registers and tones while deploying an array of expansive dance moves. As ‘Melt’ progressed into ‘Never Tired’, the crowd started swaying with a deeper curve, the swing in their tunes worked on getting all fashionable Hackney hips moving into an ever-widening arc.
Idehen was chatty. He taunted us with the fact that he’d be well off stage by midnight as he was about to turn 24 years old, before doing an Eddie Murphy ‘Halleluiah!’ skit that dropped darkly into another banger. Personality, it seems, goes a long way with darkwave garage beats. LV’s stand out tune of ‘Imminent’ was a joy to hear on such a big sound-system, but too quickly passed into their cute ‘Northern Line’ which haughtily pontificates about the nuances of London’s most malfunctioning tube branch.
As the set was wound down with Idehen’s chants of “Morden! Morden!” the only way the Hackney crowd could really respond was obvious. We all sang him happy birthday, an even worse tune that took the sting out their own slightly-too-comedy closer. The end was nigh. We’ll see you in Oslo in 2015 for some Next Wave shenanigans.
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Words Matthew Bennett
Pictures: Leticia Lopez