23 year Ross Birchard, aka HUDSON MOHAWKE, is on the cusp of making it big. His slant on dance music is wholly unique. A sloppy, glitchy, soulful mix of hip-hop, two-step and IDM it’s only a matter of time before some journo slaps a label on it and a new genre is born. Ok, someone has, but its needs to be a bit snappier than ‘aqua-crunk-step’. Recently signed to Warp Records Birchard released his Polyfolk Dance EP earlier this summer. Second on the bill in the Dance Shed Hudson Mohawke is one of many acts suffering misplacement this weekend (i.e. wrong festival entirely). With barely a scattering of folk about the warehouse Mohawke banged out an impressive set drawing from his EP and upcoming LP. More fluid live than on record the set has some pretty fresh break beats, sampled guitar, brass crescendos with hints of motown, making up a large cartoon pop sound. A beautiful sound track to any Sunday afternoon it’s a real shame there was no one there to hear it.
Charged with setting the ambience for Swedish goth-pop outfit Fever Ray, NIALLER9’s set (Declaration of Interest: Nialler is an editor for this site) was suitably dark and atmospheric without being overtly ominous. A mix of dubstep, techno, alt-pop, even throwing in some dancehall the gathering numbers were treated to some of this year’s freshest tunes and remixes. Thusly the tone is set.
As part of the brilliantly innovative and consistently aloof electronic duo The Knife, Karin Dreijer Andersson and her brother Olof Dreijer barely played a dozen shows. State was lucky enough to catch them when they played London in 2006 which proved to be one of the most exhilarating live shows ever witnessed and pretty much ‘like nothing I’ve never seen before’. Which is exactly how Simon Roche reported on Fever Ray from Roskilde; indeed the entire tour has been met spectacular reviews. So for many Fever Ray’s visit to Ireland was one of the most anticipated gigs of the year never mind the weekend.
FEVER RAY open with -If I Had a Heart’ which is primal, pulsating and immediately hypnotic. The light show is such that is nearly impossible to make out what is happening. Scanning around to take it all in the stage resembles the nightmarish scenes in -Eyes Wide Shut’. The keyboardist is a cross between a demented priest and an exclamation point, there’s also skeletal figures and various masked characters. It’s like a Matthew Barney film brought to life. Altogether it’s an unsettling experience, which is exactly the point.
At the centre of it all we have the notoriously enigmatic Karen, well it could be anybody, or anything for that matter. Cloaked and hooded Karen can rest assured that her animosity is 100% in tact. From beneath a giant buffalo head / Native American rainmaker costume unearthly incorporeal vocals flow out, almost anxiously. -When I Grow Up’ is sharp and lively, the flickering lamps give glimpses of activity however our central character remains still.
Fever Ray tour with an intricate laser show, which is the main reason they are playing Oxegen’s Dance hangar. It’s an impressive display but the vastness of the arena means that some of the intended disorientation is lost. In fact, it feels like some of the shows intended claustrophobia is also lost. Though it pains State to admit this, this leaves us feeling ever so slightly, only slightly mind, underwhelmed or at least unsatisfied. This is absolutely no fault of the band or audience just the old argument of wrong slot, wrong stage, wrong festival.
In saying that, the show had a certain apprehensive atmosphere. -Concrete Walls’ was frighteningly suffocating. By contrast, the confessional -Seven’ brought an electro pop element. Also there were a couple of new songs, or b-sides maybe, that were icy, intense and enveloping.
Karen replaces the head piece to the alien sounds of -Coconut’, which creates a dramatic and shrilling soundscape before closing with the murky and perturbed -Keep The Streets Empty For Me’. With that Karen shuffles from the stage shrouded in mystique. It could be argued that the show was faceless and un-human but the experience was so utterly affecting it was also the embodiment of some elemental emotions.
Photos by Fionn Kidney – Can’t Leave Now.