Koko, London, Saturday, February 6
I t’s easy to forget, particularly when electronic music is enjoying a rich and exciting period of flux as it is right now, that sometimes it’s nice to just opt out of the boundary-pushing, get obnoxiously drunk and wear plastic aviator sunglasses. In February, in Camden.
It’s to a crowd of people who subscribe to this view, Annie Mac’s party faithful – emphasis on the P word – that [a]SBTRKT[/a] is playing early in the evening, his trademark African tribal mask shielding his features from the few tastemakers down the front, dancing enthusiastically to spiky two-step and house-informed dubstep. Dropping [a]Joy Orbison[/a]’s [b]‘Hyph Mngo’[/b] early, he’s joined by his MC, Sampha, to perform their track [b]‘Break Off’[/b]. Live, the beats ricochet across the dancefloor like magnetically charged ball bearings around the heels of glamourpusses who are struggling to keep up. The level of kinesis is upheld by [a]Riva Starr[/a] and his arsenal of chunky house records, which are neither big nor clever, but are so inexplicably ridiculous that they make you forget everything bar basic motor functions and your mother’s face.
Then the mood changes – it looks like Wiley isn’t going to turn up. Yet, just as Annie Mac is preparing to pick up the slack, he saunters onstage. Resplendent in a grey tracksuit, Eskiboy performs a truncated selection of the more populist end of his oeuvre, inspiring an almost Pavlovian reaction from the crowd, a few members of which are now hoisted onto shoulders as minor offerings to the gods that he doesn’t play anything that they don’t know. Wiley obliges with the terrace chant of [b]‘The Olly’[/b] and chart-bothering [b]‘Cash In My Pocket’[/b], until the familiar rubberised synths of [b]‘Wearing My Rolex’[/b] strikes up some kind of Dionysian frenzy. Then he leaves. His set is barely 20 minutes long, but does anyone care? Are we analysing it all too much? The answers are lost somewhere on the dancefloor.