Event Review for Nina Kraviz pres. Galaxiid
Having witnessed Nina Kraviz this summer at first hand, supporting Carl Cox at his closing parties in Space Ibiza (and in the process immediately falling head-over-heels for the supremely talented and oh-so-photogenic techno queen), this reviewer was more than looking forward to the debut of her own club event, Galaxiid, the penultimate weekend in March. Taking place at the capital’s new techno mecca (the imposing Printworks in London’s Surrey Quays), the event had been well hyped for some time and the line-up featured 808 State (they of Pacific State fame) and Nina Kraviz’ own paramour Bjarki in support, among others. Quite the formidable line-up, or so it seemed.
So we tumbled out of bed (still nursing our hangovers from the previous night’s endeavours) and descended in our droves on an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon with the wind in our sails and more than a little Dutch courage to fuel us. Round 2, here we go. And then, some 8 hours later, we left en masse again (after what on paper could and should have been a rip-roaring-chandelier-swinging type of affair) feeling a little bit… underwhelmed. Could it be? My argument is threefold:
- Firstly (and I have to get this off my chest):- 808 State were atrocious, clearly the victims of their own success. There, I said it. And no I’m not going to pander to them just because of that song, or because they deserve respect for what they did, in the past. To me they’re like a dance music Chesney Hawkes… You couldn’t give a flying fuck about the “back catalogue” and their “experimental” live show (discordant acid-heavy crap). Instead you find yourself there for 60 minutes, shouting at them: “PLAY THE TUNE. PLAY THE FUCKING TUNE. SOD ALL THE REST AND PLAY THE FUCKING TUNE!!!!!” Sadly it felt like the life had been sucked out of the dancefloor (the queue for drinks tokens multiplied significantly during the hour); and unfortunately Nina was left really up against it to try and bring the energy back…
- Speaking of, the headliner herself only played a 90 minute set. What? Fair play for the anti-hubris (many a vainglorious promoter have put themselves front-and-centre at their own events, moronically touting themselves as “world famous” when propped up by a far worthier undercard) but techno, of all genres, surely lends itself best to long builds, even longer sets, journeys so to speak…? Compared to her 3-hour epic in Ibiza, 90 minutes felt like a microwave dinner, with all the associated richness of the summer’s more satisfying and flavourful smorgasbord shoehorned rather ham-fistedly into what amounted to nothing more than a “special guest appearance”. One thing is leaving them wanting more; it’s another thing entirely to leave them starving.
- Finally, delicacy. Nina’s set itself was far too subtle and delicate. When compared to Adam Beyer’s 8-hour tour de force a month previous, the foray into breaks and minimal tech felt too clever, too indulgent; too safe If you’re going to restrict your appearance to only 90 minutes then by God use those 90 minutes to strip the skin off our eyelids. More bosh next time Nina, please.
Okay okay, so the thing is… I’m being picky, admittedly. Yes it is easy to rant and rave high up in my ivory tower; and everyone is a critic these days... After all, it’s not going to stop me following Nina religiously, gazing upon her with near puppy-like devotion. I’ll still be keeping an eye out for those back-to-the-Hacienda type events (a sprinkling of nostalgia can be quite good fun from time-to-time)… Why, I’ll even vouch for Pacific State. It was and still is a seminal tune. I guess what I’m saying is; the event left me feeling just a little bit empty, a little bit flat. Like some techno Oliver, I can hear myself beseeching the organizers: “Please sir, I want some more!”
With all that in mind, one pleasant surprise from the night did come in the form of Bjarki, who destroyed any preconception of nepotism by closing the event with 90 minutes of eclectic wizardry that ranged from a groovy 130 beats-per-minute way up to 180BPM+ (!) (touching nose-bleedingly-hardcore territory in the process) as he closed the event with aplomb. Such command of the musical spectrum, and knowledge of such a vast breadth of material, can only be commended. Well done Bjarki.
Printworks too, was ever impressive: – as a venue it is in parts a harrowing vision of a dystopia, where the last embers of humankind stomp away mindlessly to futuristic techno beats in the long-deceased foundries of human civilisation (–cap doffed to the Matrix & Blade Runner for the imagery). Indeed, I look forward to seeing the likes of Maceo Plex bring his trademark cinematic style here in the future, or perhaps the more brutalist sound of Recondite might fill the ex-printing press with some suitably dark and ominous tones (–I owe Forgetting Sarah Marshall for that one). Either sound would be ideally wedded to the setting. All I ask, meanwhile, is that the next time the Galaxiid wagon rolls into town, Nina might credit herself a little more and treat us all to an 8-hour techno marathon of her own. Now that would be a spectacle worth getting out of bed for.