NME Awards Tour 2011
The NME circus arrived in Glasgow for one night only, showcasing the talents of Everything Everything, Magnetic Man, and Crystal Castles. Alex Embiricos arrived ticketless to the O2 Academy, nabbing the last crumpled ticket on the streets, before being granted entrance to one of the most anticipated music events of the month.
The O2 was packed with a crowd of the young and the hip, a tangible energy buzzing with expectation even before any of the acts took to the stage. By the time Everything Everything stepped on wearing top down buttoned shirts and glasses, there was not a single space on the floor. Although the indie-pop four piece remained pretty static, the synth started up with a good backbeat of drums and heavy bass, emphasizing what was to come from two of the most exciting electronic bands around. The audience picked up on this teasing prospect and towards the end of their set the lead singers high pitched, feminine vocals had the crowd’s appetite whetted, and the enthusiasm escalating into a rhythmic jumping frenzy.
Anticipation remained high for the second act as the road crew began clearing the stage of instruments, setting in their place an army of ominously glowing Mac Book Pros. Shrouded in blue stage lights, with the workings of the fog machine pouring out and a cloud of perspiration all ready being generated by the crowd, Magnetic Man took to the floor.
On record what sounds like disappointing 90’s style synth rave, attempting to push dubstep into the mainstream light, is transformed into something so heavy and gritty, that even the most underground basshunter would be proud. Mosh pits opened up and popped like pure bubbles of sweat and music fuelled mania, with producers/DJ’s Benga, Artwork, and Skream laying bass over lights over more impossibly gargantuan bass-creating that slow grind, smothering atmosphere dubstep is famous for. A bomb was dropped in the form of a good kick of drum and bass and a seething crowd that didn’t cease until the last shrieks echoed alongside exhausted cries for more.
A dance performance like that would be hard to follow by anyone’s standards, but lets be honest- after Crystal Castles annihilated the crowd yet again with song after song pulsing out like a machine gun, there were puddles on the floor. Producer Ethan Kath and singer/siren Alice Glass were meant to be seen live. Their recorded music, dubbed ‘indietronica’, comes nowhere near the raw noise and energy that ricocheted off the walls and arched over the crowd, only to be thrown right back at them and amplified tenfold. Glass, who had a cast on her leg due to an ankle injury sustained in Tokyo, made a superhuman effort thrashing her waif body around the stage climbing the amps, falling down, and hurling herself back up again, supported only by a single crutch. The pair were clad in monotone black and white, and Glass was sporting a black bob with kohl lined eyes. It fitted perfectly with their strobe light show and notoriously inaudible lyrics. But with a stage presence like that who needs meaningful lyrics anyway?
With all that said and done, it has to be up there with one of the best electronic gigs many present had experienced.