Who: PartyZone DJs, RöXöR, FM Belfast, Booka Shade
When: 26th march 2011
Despite arriving in a rushed state to Laugardalshöllin, I actually find I’m early, as the gig area isn’t ready and nobody can enter. To pass the time I decided to check out the attendees. I’m not an internet gamer, and like many, I’ve held some pretty hackneyed stereotypes of what an internet gamer looks like (pasty white, overweight, bad skin, variable hygiene standards, living with their parents at 30), but after a short while I realise that my frankly ignorant views of what makes an internet gamer need to be mended, as the EVE Online fans seemed a ridiculously diverse bunch.
You had the likes of the middle aged American couple, the unfeasibly tall women dressed in cyberpunk fetish gear, the shy Japanese teenagers, a charming bearded Brit known as ‘The Wizard’ who was there with his daughter, and a weird Belgian man sporting a drawn moustache who spoke no English but insisted on giving me free drinks. And there were a lot of men wearing kilts for reasons I was unable to ascertain.
Eventually the concert doors were opened. It was immediately apparent that CCP know how to organise a concert space. It’s dark and cavernous with the odd area bathed with pools of red and blue neon light, while one side contained a looming raised stage and a sound system that possibly had its own Borg mothership. And that wasn’t counting the THREE bars staffed by people made to look like vampire extras from the ‘Blade’ movies.
After getting a drink, I observed the PartyZone DJs providing the smooth assorted beats between the main acts tonight. From a distance it just looked like two blokes with some decks wandering around aimlessly, but my attention was diverted by a large booth that housed a bewildering display of TV screens and assorted techno gadgetry like it was the CTU hub from ‘24’. It turned out to be the room where they were the live internet streaming of the concert was being hosted. Watching the swooping camera shots of the DJs, they looked gooood, almost handsome even.
Dance of the Techno Vikings
The venue is packed as the first act comes on stage. You’ve probably have never heard of RöXöR. That’s because they’re the house band for CCP. Yes, you heard me. CCP have their own house band. Playing mostly cover songs, they were like the bands you often get playing at large company functions and places like Hressó on a Friday night. But whereas those bands look bland and all play the same songs (think ‘Proud Mary’ and ‘Mustang Sally’ on an infinite loop), these guys had bizarre costumes and make-up (I think someone was wearing a chicken head at one point), while their song choices were more varied (Duran Duran, Foo Fighters, The Violent Femmes, etc). They end their set with a couple of beefy staff members stripping to their underpants and re-enacting the internet famous Techno Viking video as two guys in vests and chunky Guido jewellery performed some god-awful hip hop that I found fucking hilarious. In a word: completely bizarre.
We’re gonna have a RAAAAVE!
It’s 10:30pm and while the PartyZone guys ratchet up the music by bringing on a live singer to sing some house tunes, the crowd was seriously getting in the mood, buoyed by the tide of booze and party vibes. This caused a small amount of mayhem however, as the toilets started to look like a humanitarian disaster zone as the queues reached epic proportions, just as all the toilet paper started to run out. The looks on most of the men’s faces told their own stories of pain.
But I can’t wait, since FM Belfast are about to leap onto the stage like sprinting gazelles as the crowd screams wildly. While they have their own aura of geekiness, the twelve months they’ve spent constantly touring abroad means the ‘Belfast also have the air of total pros as they worked the crowd relentlessly. Set-wise they played all the hits, while every member was constantly bounding around the stage, geeing up the crowd and barking commands such as “We’re gonna turn this place… into a RAAAVE!” At one point they even managed to get 1.000 people to all sit down once on what was by now a fairly sticky floor.
The only problem however was that the sound quality of what I was listening to differed greatly depending on where I was standing. Near the mixing desk, everything sounded smooth. Standing at the sides or fairly near the front, you got a total overloaded bass mess. And this would carry on for the rest of the night.
OMFG, My Eyes!!
This was a shame as the Booka Shade set looked absolutely brilliant. Playing their tech house tunes in a live format, you had Walter on synth and knob twiddling duty, while Arno played a huge array of percussion instruments with a certain amount of flair and panache. On top of this, the light show practically burned your retinas clean off. But again the huge amounts of bass, which felt like someone was cracking open breeze blocks on your chest with a sledgehammer, meant that while you could make out the synth lines, at times you just couldn’t hear any of what the Arno was playing. Not that it really mattered as the crowd by now had gone completely apeshit and was feeding off the energy that emitted from the stage. Things had reached a geek frenzy critical mass so I imbibed some shots and decided to stop being a whiny grump and engage in some fist pumping instead. Woot!
So in the end, despite the odd bass bin problem, it says something that a games company can show more experienced music promoters a thing or two on how to put on a good show. Also it was certainly a surprise to find that these geeks know how to party hard and also will probably end up ruling the Western hemisphere before the decade is out.