Electronic Beats hit the Slovakian capital of Bratislava with Hurts, James Pants, Agoria, and Youthkills for a sold-out night of diverse new sounds. The EB team reports from on site. Title image of Hurts by Martina Mlcuchova.
On the outskirts of the Bratislava, long after the baroque architecture has faded into industrial wasteland, squats the Refinery Gallery. As you’d expect from an ex-oil refinery, the post-industrial heft of the venue demands performers to upscale their sound lest they get lost amidst the space. London band Youthkills are more than happy to oblige with a set of reference-heavy radio rock. If you can detect some ’80s DNA in their sound, well, that isn’t just metaphorical—they’re the respected progeny of Duran Duran’s two Taylors. They look like Jesus and Mary Chain with undercuts—you can practically hear the creak of leather jacket as James Taylor lopes towards a guitar pedal, well, if there wasn’t a seismic updraft of ringing U2 guitars and keening choruses.
Youthkills, by Martina Mlcuchova
While the crowd seemed slightly skeptical of James Pants’ one-man percussion/vocals/production/DJ band set up at first, it didn’t take him long to win them over. What started as a half-full room looking to the stage questioningly ended with a full floor and hands in the air. His combination of an amazing selection, full of groovy obscurities, plus his own productions topped by a fervent, but endearing stage presence meant that his set travelled from boogie to bhangra beats, through all the best twists in between, but always brought the party.
James Pants, by Stanislava Karellova
There was always a sense of fake it until you make it with Hurts, who Youthkills have no doubt studied as a textbook case of narrative pop music the right (wrong?) side of epic.Theo’s theatrical flourishes of the mike stand, the odd well-timed hair sweep, you get a sense it was practiced the bathroom mirror long before they ever had a paying audience. Now, by God, they’ve made it. Stalking the lip of the stage, dressed in his uniform black jacket and jackboots, Theo picks out female audience members to grace with a wink, a smile, a hand outstretched, before falling to his knees in time with the scree of a particularly toothy synth. Indeed the rougher grain of tracks like “Exile” and “The Road” offer timely reprieve from the brazen emoting: Now Adam Anderson looking as comfortable behind a guitar as the Modernist black veneered piano, whereas “Sandman”’s verses break with the fulsome, organic sound altogether to experiment with Timbaland style production. If this unchecked rawk posturing feels anachronistic—particularly coming from a band whose slickly produced pop has as much in common with Take That as Depeche Mode—that’s kind of the point. The crowd are wildly enthusiastic, holding up banners of thinly disguised innuendo (“dessert?”) leading one to surmise that we still need to elect rock star avatars to express our primitive, uncouth desires, can’t be repressed or sublimated, and we’re gifted a tableau of an excellently dressed man, his pomaded hair stylishly mussed, making a pantomime of smashing a mic stand.
Agoria, by Stanislava Karellova
Or perhaps we’d all be a little less uptight if life was one long Agoria set. For tonight’s show he presents Forms, a driving house and techno set accompanied by visuals triggered on the fly. The visual vernacular is familiar, time-lapse footage of crowds, CAD-abstraction, the odd visual pun (a guy working in a office cubicle while dropping “Work” by Masters at Work). Of course, this being Agoria, it’s the kind of set that should be peak-time, and even at 3am the remaining people on the dancefloor look unwilling to relinquish their position. Don’t worry Bratislava, we’ll be back.~
photo by by Stanislava Karellova
The time for the next Electronic Beats Festival in Bratislava is approaching, and tickets are running out fast (UPDATE: Tickets are now SOLD OUT). The festivities will take place at the Refinery Gallery, an old industrial space remodeled by Slovnaft and Design Factory in an effort to utilize the unused refinery and storage halls, while bringing cultural life to the grim industrial Vl?ie Hrdlo (roughly translated: “Wolf’s Throat”) district. Their primary aim is to showcase contemporary architecture, design and art. This is where we come in.
On May 12th, Electronic Beats will host Slovak locals Zlokot, the spaced-out Asteroid Galaxy Tour, and veteran electronics & guitar overlord UNKLE Sounds. The night is topped off with performances by the young and restless Woodkid and the amazing Friendly Fires.
All is calm now, the refinery halls are silent. But not for long. Get your tickets now, and come dance with us in the throat of the wolf.
Intuition tells us you potentially take offense at being inundated with images of multi-pastelled eggs and bunny rabbits. We feel the same. Nevertheless, in keeping up with our pan-religious agenda (re: last December’s 8 classic Kraftwerk Hanukkah album reviews/month-long post-sundown Ramadan postings), we’re proud to present to you our Easter Special – an in-depth look at the four pillars of the Electronic Beats cosmos: EB Radio, EB.net, Slices, and EB Magazine. This moveable EB smorgasbord will be our first, but by no means our last. So whip out your lunisolar calendars and be on the lookout every first Sunday after the full moon following the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox, regardless of whether you’re hunting for eggs, the afikoman or tail at this year’s SNAX.
You might already be familiar with Electronic Beats’s festival activities, but we want to make sure you’re 100% in the loop about every EB live event, which will go down in Spring 2012. As you might know, Electronic Beats has a long and rich live history, with the first big festival happening in Cologne 2001 – pretty much 11 years ago.
On May 24, 2012 we’ll be returning to Cologne’s E-Werk with live shows and DJ sets by The Kills, Miike Snow, Austra, The Hundred In The Hands, Citizens! and Coma. Also, we’ll be bringing Electronic Beats Festivals to Gda?sk (April 24), Prague (May 5), Bratislava (May 12), and Graz (May 16), and we cordially invite you to join us. And since we know that a festival is always better with a good friend, we’re giving away two tickets for each of the festivals during our Easter special.
Simply fill in the form below, tick the festival you’d love to visit, keep your fingers crossed and maybe win the tickets. For those of you who also answered the optional question (Hint: have a look at our Facebook timeline), we’ll throw an extra two tickets in.
We’re looking forward to all of the Electronic Beats Festivals in 2012 – hope to see you there!
– – – Competition is closed, winners will be notified – – –
Woodkid, the multi-talented producer, re-mixer and video director is going to release a picture disc of his track ‘Iron’ in April. You can purchase the record exclusively via Fnac, by clicking this link. Woodkid is also going to be on tour this Spring, including a stop at the Electronic Beats Festival in Prague, for which some tickets are still available. In the meantime why not sit back and enjoy his video for Lana Del Ray‘s ‘Blue Jeans’.