Thumping beats are made for city streets. Outdoor raves be damned, grimy alleyways are where it’s at and approaching Stereo tonight, the pavement vibrates reassuringly. Down below, the sound system is straining at the leash. It may be damp but all is well with the world.
Nathan Fake rocks up in support of recent release Providence. An all new AV show to blast in our faces and earholes. Abstract and rather hypnotic visuals behind one man, one laptop, several black boxes and a bag of leads. And, it’s not bad. Not bad at all. It’s impossible to go higher than that, though.
The gig, for the most part, is very much like the album. Dense, euphoric, synth-heavy and quite overwhelming. The problem is, there is a lack of space. It’s like a permanent E-rush breakdown but without the seven minutes of percussion to get you there. It’s fine but after just two tunes, even, a bit of a gap to breathe would be appreciated. Reaching for the sun reduces in impact when you’re not allowed to put down your wings from time to time.
It all sounds and feels a little wearying, really quite quickly; feels being the operative word. When music is this kinetic and powerful it is a physical experience and without the space to catch a breath, two things happen: one, you feel a bit knackered tout suite and two, perversely, that euphoria ebbs away. Even the rowdiest most screaming climaxes become mundane. If it was a DJ, it would be an inexperienced young fella making the mistake we all have of knocking out a succession of big room bangers. It’s curious though that an artist of Nathan Fake’s pedigree should be taking a route that seems overly eager to impress.
Perhaps it’s the oft-observed phenomenon in electronic music of players feeling the need to over complicate. He wouldn’t be the first and certainly won’t be the last to go down that alleyway. As always, you suspect there are more restrained, less worked on, versions of the tracks in the locker. Versions that would probably work a lot better, at least spattered across a set. When things get a little sparser, later on, it is immediately noticeable; the crowd dance more, there is a crackle in the air and, frankly, it’s just more enjoyable and more successful.
A decent evening, but, less is more.