posted on June 09, 2008 15:00
Plaid (live in Crawdaddy, Dublin)
Review Snapshot: More dubstep than Double Figure, Plaid knocked out a short and surprising set. There were two schools of thought: the Disappointed (discussing the performance in the smoking area) and the Dancers (who made up the electric crowd in the venue). As a disappointed dancer, the gig lay somewhere in between for me...
The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10
Support act Sunken Foal opened the night of electronica. Featuring one half of Ambulance (Duncan Murphy), the duo soaked the venue with eerie church bells and sustained apocalyptic sounds. Imagine the haunting, sweeping discords of the Radiohead's Morning Bell/Amnesiac infused with deep synths that sound like bullfrogs - and you've almost got Sunken Foal. They drifted from darkness to more euphoric moments of harmony, and brought the crowd on an emotional journey with them. As my companion said to me of their sound, 'Oh my God. It's like Kermit on crack.'
And there were dancers. Funky, nutty, crunk-esque: watching them became more exciting than watching two guys twiddling knobs and clicking keyboards. There was the girl with twisty, staccato hip grooves; the red-bearded man doing the 6-step, and a smily Asian guy who swung his arms around like a schoolboy.
Plaid took to the stage and continued with the bell-like sound of Sunken Foal. The initial noises reminded me of a horror movie, and when the bass kicked in, it kicked in HARD. When you can feel the bass throbbing in your throat and shooting up and down your spine, you know it's just that little bit too loud. At times I liked the pain; other times I felt middle-aged ('Lord. It's shockin' loud isn't it?') The real disappointment was that the Plaid gig lacked visuals. This wouldn't be a problem if the two performers performed, but there was no action onstage at all - in fact the stage felt shockingly empty and boring. There are other rooms in Tripod that cater for this - but seeing Plaid up onstage - serious, dull, looking not dissimilar to two IT guys trying to fix some ill-behaving Macs - made you wonder where to look. The sound was filling, penetrating, disturbing, but without visuals it didn't make as much of an impact as it could have.
Unsurprisingly, the crowd consisted of the usual eighty-percent male electronica heads. This was grand for me and my female companion until we tried to move anywhere. We were frequently accosted by aforementioned men, which became an irritating distraction to the music. One man even tried to impress me by shouting spoken word lyrics in my ear while Plaid were dropping some serious breakcore.
What I was expecting from the night were the ambient subtleties of Double Figure: what we got instead was industrial, dark and almost frightening with noise. I remember feeling at one point that the entire crowd may have all been descending into some deep apocalypse of sound; and being dragged down to that was almost like a slow and expected death. Which of course, some people liked. The crowd were incredibly responsive - going out for a breather was a different story. Lots of people in the smoking area seemed disappointed in the music choice. 'I mean, they went dubstep on my ass!' one girl exclaimed. Though I'm a fan of dubstep, it just didn't do it for me at this gig.
I suppose the old maxim of having no expectations can be a good thing - at this gig I feel as though I came away with no sense of growth or enlightenment. My question is: Did anyone who enjoyed this gig more than me tap into something I didn't?