Old rave, new wave, new rave or no rave – whatever. Klaxons take it to Glasgow for a double hit of luminescent terrorism
“Ere, Barry,” gnashes a goo-splattered gurner pogoing into the Glasgow Academy in a luminous hoodie that looks so radioactive sea rescue helicopters could use it as a homing beacon. He sticks out a bright green tongue at his mate and grimaces with disgust. “I can still taste that glowstick.”
Has the taste of new rave turned sour? The signs are there: the cognescenti are already pointing to Hadouken!’s grime emo (grimo?) onslaught as the new Charge Of The Light (Baton) Brigade that’ll wipe out the scene in less time than it takes to wire up a guitar to a Dance Dance Revolution machine, and Klaxons are keen to cast off all rave-ish accoutrements. The stage is a stark wasteland of white netting and blue-lit scaffolding and security are under strict orders to confiscate all objects of a glowing and/or stick-like nature at the door. Klaxons, see, are acutely aware of the dangers of Fad Fashion. They don’t see those tiny hoops of green and red as symbols of an ecstatic revolution of indie/dance MDMAlgamation. They see them, quite rightly, as a tacky trend that’ll date their band faster than a Junior Senior remix or a guest appearance by Har Mar Superstar. Shame nobody’s told Glasgow though: 10 minutes to stage-time a ladder of two-foot glowsticks lights up, bordering the stage like a new rave halo, illuminating a mid-teen crowd decked out in pink leggings, turbo-neon make-up and shirts customised with massive Ks in paint better suited to landing planes. And that’s just the blokes. Transcend the scene? Not if the youth of Glasgae can help it, laddies…
Yet transcend it Klaxons do, and decisively. Taking the stage at the distinctly un-boshin’ hour of 4.30pm for an all-ages matinée gig they blast into ‘The Bouncer’ with a frenzy not seen since Paris Hilton’s last drink-driving arrest. “If you’re not from Glasgow and it’s not three o’clock in the afternoon, you’re not coming in!” barks Jamie Reynolds as elephantine bass stampedes all over the bloodied remains of old rave, kicking not so much like a mule as like a 200-foot mecha-mutant mule with hooves of plutonium. Then the sound of a disco diva frotting to a climax on a knackered car alarm ushers in ‘Atlantis To Interzone’ with its evil monk chant chorus that’s warping our fluorescent adolescents’ minds with subliminal orders to sacrifice ‘Yelpy’ Pennie from The Automatic to the ancient tribal gods of Howlett and Flint. This isn’t the thrillingly half-cut and bug-eyed shambles of an act we witnessed last year; months of hard slog around the lavatories of Europe and North America have made Klaxons a tightly drilled party machine. Beep-beep! WHOOOP!
Klaxons play two gigs at the Academy today and rightly so: to understand Klaxons fully you NEED to see them twice in one day. The first time you’re blitzed to the primal brain-stem by the all-out thermonuclear groove onslaught that barges straight to the control panel of your central nervous system and flicks the switch marked ‘Dance Like A Devil Dork On Diazepam’. The thunderous throb of ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ envelops the synapses, the industro-metal stomp of ‘Magick’ rattles the bones and ‘Isle Of Her’ chains you to the oar of a Trojan warship and horsewhips you until you row the bugger clean off the third Peter Gabriel album (trust us, it’s identical) and straight into the yawning jaws of hell. It’s a dizzying, dazzling, devastating display.
Then a break for a pizza – and a quick blast of Shy Child doing their drums-and-keytar version of an electro White Stripes while fellating the microphones – and come their evening set you start to unpick what makes Klaxons so unique. “They’re not
even slightly rave!” mither the purists. Well, actually, yes they are.
It’s not just in the sirens’n’soul of the first five seconds of ‘Atlantis…’ or the punk’d covers of ‘The Bouncer’ or Grace’s ‘Not Over Yet’ that bookend both sets, it’s in the housey piano plinks of ‘Golden Skans’, the filthy squelch drums of opener ‘Two Receivers’ and the blissed-out “Oo-ee-ooo”s of a pincer-tight ‘Magick’; it’s in their marrow. Plus, any band writing about going to infinity, sequin-covered swans, rainbows and meeting Julius Caesar, Diana Princess Of Wales and Mother Teresa on a Club 18-30 holiday has clearly feasted heartily from the disco biscuit barrel.
Thing is, they’re a cheesy ’70s disco band as well. When ‘Totem On The Timeline’ arrives disguised as a frantic tech-mosh meltdown, it slowly morphs into Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’, albeit ‘I Will Survive’ being bludgeoned to a pulp with mechanical excavating equipment. And they’re a new romantic band: ‘Two Receivers’ is Duran Duran’s ‘A View To A Kill’ made 2007 with an itching crack comedown of a bassline. Oh, and they’re a prog space metal band as well – the wiry pop brilliance of ‘As Above So Below’ suddenly gets stomped under 10 seconds of death-metal Muse guitars halfway through. And what is ‘Atlantis To Interzone’ if not Rage Against The Machine racing stolen ambulances? Plus, any band writing about cyclops, wizards and the four horsemen of the apocalypse must have spent many hours casting fire spells at imaginary orcs along to Judas Priest.
As he swaggers about behind a hefty mop of spider hair stage right, meanwhile, Simon Taylor’s impresario guitar sweeps add even more depth – the Smithsy splashes on ‘Isle Of Her’ or the mariachi mania on ‘Magick’. Klaxons’ genius is merging all of these wild-card styles into one coherent identity so you can’t see the join. Forget the crass idea of a rave revival, Klaxons slot into a proud lineage of scene-blurring innovation alongside Primal Scream, Super Furry Animals and The Postal Service. They’re proof that the concept of ‘genre’ is increasingly meaningless to a MySpace generation guzzling open-mindedly on the internet pick’n’mix, only a double-click away from all the music they’ve never yet imagined.
As ‘Four Horsemen Of 2012’ charges the evening gig to a close, hails of contraband glowsticks, fluoro shoes and even a radiation suit rain down on the stage, desperate to batter Klaxons back into their cosy scene (big fish, little fish) cardboard box. But they’re already above all the scenester whims and crazes. New rave? Pah – Klaxons make clone-rock, and
they’re rising up against the normals. Watch your back, The View, the mutants are coming for you.