A live DJ set from Aphex Twin is a pretty rare thing, so the opportunity to see one of techno’s greats is to be grabbed with both hands.
And many did. Many . Friday night’s Warehouse Project was sold out well before the day and judging from the number of ‘A’ logos worn across t-shirts and hoodies it was clear who the big draw was.
Aphex twin (real name Richard James) is the wildly innovative and unconventional electronic musician who has often divided public opinion since he released his first 12-inch EP some 20 years ago.
Due to the producer’s capricious nature, live sets and record releases have ranged from the darkly sublime (Window Licker, Xtal, Come to Daddy) to the impenetrable (Ktpa2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1SregopTjk). Simply, if you think David Guetta or Calvin Harris is God, Aphex Twin is the Antichrist.
With this in mind, I left my preconceptions at the door and prepared for the unexpected.
Decent sets from Moths and Zavoloka warmed up the main room before Aphex Twin’s appearance behind the decks at 1am. The crowd in front of the DJ area had been steadily growing and by the time Zavaloka’s final tune had rumbled away into the night air it was in a state of fevered anticipation.
The Aphex Twin Logo that lit up the dark and shed a red halo around the enigmatic DJ was met with a huge roar and the frantic waving of camera phones.
Things started off with an impossibly deep, growling bass that seemed designed to vibrate everyone’s central nervous system to dust and destroy the Project’s sound system.
The 1 ½ hour set danced around from the sparse, to the explosive and the occasionally euphoric. Acid house played a major part and some of the tunes used to whip up the ravers were straight from the early nineties.
Tracks from the man himself were few (I only recognised a remix of Tha make an appearance) but the variation in beats and the mixing made for an interesting and unpredictable experience.
Once or twice the music broke off and we were left in silence, unsure of whether there was a technical fault or a moment of artistic whimsy.
Pin up models, TV personalities and football heroes lit up the screens, with distorted, jumping faces imposed over the originals. The effect was like watching a series of nightmarish avatar gifs, but it felt perfect for an Aphex Twin show.
It was a solid set and the visual effects and buzz from the crowd made for an electric atmosphere, but Aphex Twin’s popularity and the rarity of his performances comes with a problem – an intensely eager crowd.
The mass of bodies fighting to get closer to the front meant we spent as much time fighting off the mob as dancing. A wave of clubbers would lurch forward and be countered by an angry response from those in front, prompting a few to duck out of the mosh pit to rave from the side lines.
Overall it was probably what an Aphex Twin experience should be – varied, unpredictable and slightly terrifying.
Night in room one was rounded off with less intense scenes when Hudson Mohawke and Zomby played for an hour each.
Zomby’s appearance was greeted with relief as there were rumours he would be a no-show. But concern was replaced with excitement when the fans saw the figure in the V for Vendetta mask dancing behind the decks.
He saw the night out with a set of dubstep and grime that kept the crowd going until it was time to lurch back out onto the street below Piccadilly train station.