The Bell House is a great venue. I have absolutely no idea why but I had it in my head that it was a hotel. Not true. It’s a big, old warehouse, I think from the 1920s. The entrance is through a fairly large open room which doubles as a bar and a cafe. There is a merchandise table at one end, well stocked with CDs, T-Shirts and other goods. A door at one end leads to the main hall, probably the size of a large school gym. It’s a lazy rectangular shape, with the stage on one of the longer sides. Imagine you are standing in front of the stage, facing away. Directly across from the stage is a low tower with the mixing rig with booths for VJs on either side. On the right wall is bar number two (did the crew choose a good venue or what?), behind you to your left is the artists backstage area and the left wall has an emergency beer tap, I assume for artists who are already to drunk to be able to find the other two bars.
Before I get to the performances, I spent a lot of time between sets wandering about, watching people and I saw this little scenario played out numerous times.
“hey who are you?”
“I’m (insert handle here)”
“GTFO of here! I’m (insert handle here)!”
Followed by loads of hugs and massive smiles, it brought tears to my eyes more than once.
I love you guys.
I have been a fan of Silreq for ages, since his first <a href=”http://www.kittenrock.co.uk/”>Kittenrock</a> release and it wasn’t a disappointment to see him live. My notes for his set just read “harsh, harsh, heavy, harsh” and that seems a fairly decent description. The first set of the festival is always going to be a tough one and the crowed were a little subdued but there was a selection of about 10 obviously hard core fans front and center having an absolute blast. JYK’s monochrome glitchy visual style really suited the music well. Really enjoyed myself and a great way to get started.
Failotron, backed up by George, the drummer from Starscream played 40 minutes of long, dreamy tunes. Paris’ visuals flowed along nicely with the music. I would have liked the drumming to be just a little tighter and Failotron was unfortunately plagued by technical problems. He soldiered on with some excellent stage patter and a little help from Nullsleep to deliver a very well received set.
Leeni has a slower paced, more relaxing vibe. I heard a couple of people describe her sound as “sexy spooky” which was perhaps slightly at odds with her kind of up beat stage persona. VBlank’s visuals were almost playful, really meshed well with Leeni’s music. Fan favorite “vampire mixdown” was probably the most popular tune.
A few people distributed 3d glasses through the audience before Minusbaby took the stage. I can’t really comment on how effective they were, the things give me a shocking headache in seconds but the site of a couple of hundred of people wearing them was amazing from the stage side. I must admit I was a little unsure how his music would translate to a live setting. I know he is a very well established artist but being from out of town this was my first time to see him live. I absolutely loved it, and judging by the size of the crowd so did most other people. It was a surprisingly heavy and groovy set backed up the the incredibly tight and funky Oxygenstar on drums for the last part of the set. Enso laid down a really varied but well suited mix of visuals for a great backdrop.
A quick confession, chromix was one of the two or three artists I didn’t really know anything about. He took a “no table” approach to his performance, and he used all the extra space he had, running around the stage throwing some awesome shapes. His music was of the up beat, power dance style, with plenty of people dancing, a few game jokes and possibly the biggest cheesy grin of the festival thus far.
This is my second confession of the day. Before Blip, I wasn’t on the JDDJ3J boat. I head heard a couple of tracks, seen a couple of videos, but didn’t get the buzz. How wrong is it possible for an person to be about a live act? Jules has an astonishing amount of energy and the audience just drank it up. He is so damn slick on stage, the occasional audio drop outs looked planned. No Carrier’s visuals were glitchy and solid, meshed well with the audio. The first performance to have the crowd virtually levitating throughout. I think my personal high point of the night was Jules leaping into the crowd during his excellent cover of Aerodynamic.
Albino Ghost Monkey/Output
I think AGM became a hero to many people on Thursday night. Everyone was already in the mood to dance and he gave us ample opportunity. AGM is a big NL 2.3 user and he truly rocks it like nobody else, his music is both complex and deeply funky. Its impossible to stand still while listening to him. Silreq made a spot on observation about his almost Iggy Pop like stage presence. He actually joined the crowd for a dance at one point although he only managed a few second before the inevitable crowdsurfing. Output provided an intricate, fast paced backdrop for the music. I think this was one of my favorite visualist/artist match ups of the event.
Eat Rabbit/Rosa Menkman
Now this probably was my favorite visualist/artist pairing. I have wanted to see Eat Rabbit live for a couple of years or so now, he took the stage in his iconic rabbit head and Suit jacket and played about 40 minutes of, well, I honestly exactly don’t know. His music is disjointed, creepy and odd. It almost seems as if his equipment is on the verge of giving out, but it somehow just manages to hold onto some weird, ethereal, half broken groove. Rosa Menkman’s visuals could be described in almost the same way. A mixture of corrupted data and damages sprites and 3d models. A perfect closer for the night.