Is London calling or is London burning? Well both statements can be utilised in a multifaceted way depending on both the context of how it’s used and the meaning that the rhetorician is trying to communicate. But as the focal song titles for one of London’s most influential bands ever – The Clash – these assertions were used to impart a meaning that was one and the same; sentiments of worry, frustration and unease not only with our capital city but with the nation as a whole. So fast forward to 2016, and these cries have no reason to be retracted. Nothing’s changed. Who knows how each individual feels in light of the current state of both regional and national affairs. One thing that’s a cert is that regardless of opinion, each person surely feels some sort of inevitable strife. I won’t mention the B – word (at this stage the referendum decision sounds more fitting with ‘Bollocks’ more for its overuse than anything else), but the closing of important cultural hubs of London such as Passing Clouds and Fabric has meant that if Joe Strummer were still around to bellow “London is drowning, and I live by the river”, he would more than likely dive in head first into the dirty Thames in this capsizing city. But this is all getting a bit doom and gloom now isn’t it? Really it’s not as post-zombie-apocalyptic as I am having you believe as there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. On the 8th of October, Camden’s Koko hosts a very special night that will see Acid-House pioneers croon into London on a seismic wave of nostalgic swing that will simultaneously provide comforting reassurance alongside equal gusts of resounding revolution that will surely arouse our willingness to take back our city (at least for one night).
Crucially it is the perfect time to celebrate Acid House. It’s been there and done that, worn the smiley-faced t-shirt and carried on through the constant political shit-storms. Born from ever continuing debris of what was a country divided by social ideals stemming from a monumental fragmentation between right and left standpoints and spear-headed by the UK’s (arguably) most-hated leader ever – Margret Thatcher – Acid House spawned a new sort of cultural utopia where-by class systems, race and creed merged into a melting pot of tolerance, peace and compassion under the blinding lights of warehouses and raves. But it didn’t begin in England, oh no. Let’s go to that familiar city in which great, pioneering music seems to be as ubiquitous and omnipresent in the atmosphere as the very air we breathe: Chicago. The landscape that flowered Detroit Techno and Chicago House also spawned the first rounded rhythmic sounds of Acid House (Christ what f*#kin musical forms would have circulated in the last 30 years without this place?), and so another electronic crusade began to unfold when in 1985 the key proponents of the genre started to play with the Roland TB303. Very much in the same way a kid disregards their main present and instead finds joy in the very bubble wrap it came tied up in, these musicians like-wise explored the sum of the parts rather than accepting the totality of the product as it was meant to be received. Originally intended as a source of accompaniment for guitarists, the TB303 quickly became a control console on which to turn all sorts of knobs that shifted frequencies at alarming rates and produced the most mesmerizing filtered effects. ‘Acid Tracks’, considered by many to be the first ‘acid’ tune, was produced by Phuture, a group which also contained DJ Pierre, and the track single handedly changed electronic music quite literally ever-since . It is my pleasure to say that for all us humble shepherds to the groove, these very forefathers will be dropping all this squelching pleasure for our ears on the night.
Of course, Britain picked up wind of this new stylistic nuance and wanted to get on-board. London and Manchester became the beacons of shining light for a new pattern of thought that only manifested due to the unveiling of this new, exciting music. However, as clubs like Shoom started to gain popularity, the system clearly felt threatened by the new-found freedom of expression inside every clubber and party goer alike and so began to enforce after-hour clubbing laws in an attempt to suppress these awakened spirits who felt the urge to dance, embrace all in one and nothing less. Of course this could not be tolerated, for what would a society be if it were not numbed, devoid of true knowledge and allowed to think and love freely? The result was that over the next number of years the media and government sensationalised, fabricated and manipulated public opinion towards ‘illegal’ raves; raves which they had inadvertently created when trying to dampen the flame of acid house in the first place, imposing unnecessary, unjust and completely ridiculous laws [Fabric anyone?]. However the music always has and always will prevail which is why incredible artists such as 808 State went on to inspire and be a part of a whole mass of important instances of counter cultural standpoints. Without them there would have been no Madchester scene, no theme tune for the classic TV show The Word, no inspired artists in the 90’s such as Aphex Twin and right up to the present day they continue to be given praise as highlighted Bicep’s incredible remix of ‘In Yer Face’ (see below). As I opened with: if you want to be comforted, feel joy, dance and be expressive then this is your night. But if you also want to be aroused, stimulated and encouraged to make a change, then this is your music.
Get your tickets here: http://www.theplayground.co.uk/boxx-office/
A night NOT to be missed…
Keep your eyes peeled for our essential listening playlist on Soundcloud ahead of the night in the next few weeks.
Words by Robbie Cully