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The Bays & AGT Rave Cru live at Peepshow
'The band reinventing dance music' and the 'Chas & Dave of Rave' together under one roof? Kone-R heads out in west London.
My first visit to this west London venue (previously known as Neighbourhood and before that, Subterrania) and I arrived expecting something of a treat from Peepshow, an A/V night that has been reborn in the capital after a break from its Oxford origins. With improv specialists The Bays appearing as the live headliners plus support from the Digitonal-meets-Posthuman side project AGT Rave Cru, the omens were good for a well-rounded dose of beats, bass and sonic frippery.
Arriving at the venue to find it mostly empty wasn’t really a surprise since the promoter only had a matter of days to organise the event. Kudos to them for getting together such a sterling line-up in such a short space of time, and also for flyering the nearby Portobello Road to such an extent as to ensure the place had filled to a respectable level before the main act came on.
The Bays, for an improv act, didn’t seem all that radically different to the last time I’d seen them, but their skills as musicians are undeniable. Drummer Andy Gangadeen is the driving force, hammering out live beats as though his arms and legs are actually driven by a sequencer. The live bass and guitars are tight, and the electronics meld seamlessly with the rest of the group. It’s an impressive sight, although at times the improvisation seemed like it could have been taken to further, outer reaches… it's all a little on the safe side. The grooving, housier numbers are nicely done and the excellent sound system in this venue does them proud, but these are pounded into submission by the drum and bass finale, which sends the crowd wild but strikes me again as scripted and predictable. This band has a great deal of potential but they need to avoid sitting on their laurels as the ‘band reinventing dance music’ and actually get on with reinventing dance music — something I think they could be capable of if they just drop the ‘same old thing’ and head into more psychedelic territory.
On the subject of clichés, the night ends with an appearance by AGT Rave Cru. The “Chas & Dave of Rave”…. the “Jive Bunny of Hardcore”… the “Stars on (one hundred and) 45 (bpm)”. The idea couldn’t be simpler. Two guys with laptops (no wait — I haven’t finished yet), dressed up in gas masks, hi-vis jackets, decked out in Orbital-style head torches, mixing together a blend of early 90s hardcore and house, synthpop classics and a liberal sprinkling of party shaking electro and techno (think Mr Oizo rather than Maurizio). It’s obviously cheesy, but it’s never dull — it’s pure unadulterated fun, and despite the technical difficulties, despite the fact both members of the Cru weren’t necessarily there the ‘first time round’, and despite the fact they have both proven their worth as more ‘serious’ electronic musicians in their other projects down the years, their enthusiasm on stage is infectious, and the crowd (most of whom probably weren’t boshing pills in a field Hampshire in 1992 either) responds in kind. It’s not clever, but it is big on the dancefloor and it’s great to see a less serious side, sticking two fingers up to the generally accepted IDM/nerd label. I just hope they don’t eschew their more esoteric sides for the cheap thrill of mp3 headrushes from 20+ years back.