Crap Music Rave Party
Tomás Ford @ Royal Croquet Club – Shanty Town
11:15pm, Sun 9 Mar 2014
I’m a massive fan of Tomás Ford, and as soon as I discovered that he was performing his only 2014 Adelaide Fringe show on my birthday… well, I was sold. And when the call went out for Crap Music suggestions, I sent in a flood of suggestions… All of which were K-Pop, as is my current predilection, and all of which were – in retrospect – amazingly inappropriate.
Why? Well, for some reason I had read “crap music”, and interpreted that to mean “music that others may not have listened to because they think it might be crap, but they should listen to it and be amazed”. Which kinda misses the point.
Especially since every track I sent him was actually pretty awesome…
…and the Awesome K-Pop You’ve Never Heard Rave Party is held somewhere else.
(By the way: if anyone knows where the abovementioned party is held, please let me know: I’d be there in a heartbeat. And yes, I’m aware that a couple of those tracks are technically J-Pop.)
I’d dashed home between shows to grab a quick shot of life-supporting coffee, as well as pick up my surprise gift for Tomás Ford: for some reason, the f(x) song Kick had always reminded me of Ford’s cabaret stylings, so I thought I’d gift him a copy of the album. But as I left to head down to the Croquet Club, I got a text from a friend relaying the current state of the venue… and the word “horrible” was used. My heart sank a little.
By the time I got there – a mere five minutes before the nominal start time of the ‘Party, a queue of drunk youngsters snaked around the entrance; my ticket got me inside the Croquet Club without fuss, but the interior was bedlam. Dry and dusty, yet heavy with a haze of alcohol, the atmosphere was oppressive; a rampant stumbling drunkenness seemed to have infected about half the choc-a-bloc crowd, making the push to get to Shanty Town a dangerous ordeal in itself. But I got through the crowd, jumping another queue using the power of a ticket-in-hand, and made it through to the Rave venue… to find that they were still setting up. Fine – grab a drink, join the queue. And, as I waited, I was reminded at how uncomfortable it can be being amongst a group of people who are (a) social extroverts, and (2) far more drunk than you.
Eventually, a beat emerges from inside Shanty Town, and the early crowd – the shy crowd, including myself – drifted in. I immediately went to Ford, still tinkering with his laptop and mixing board, and presented him with his copy of Pink Tape…
…for which he certainly appeared surprised and thankful. Which was lovely :)
(There’s a tip for you, artists: talk to me about music, and you’ll likely score free tunes ;)
As it turns out, Tomás Ford’s Crap Music Rave Party is exactly what it says in the title: Ford mans the laptop, occasionally taking to the mike to gee up the crowd, whilst deriding everyone for dancing to Crap Music. He also maintained a sheet of paper at the front of the venue, on which he encouraged the crowd to scrawl a list of songs for consideration; I’d occasionally peruse the list at various stages of the evening to check out other people’s suggestions, and was relieved to discover that many nominations were (as with my own suggestions) actually great tracks… but some were truly horrible.
How bad? Achy Breaky Heart. Extended remixes of Never Gonna Give You Up. Songs that were massive once upon a time, but which hindsight has declared that we should have known better. And Ford – whilst niggling the crowd for having the gumption to suggest such things – played them.
But then there’s genuine crowd-pleasers – Jesse’s Girl had everyone singing along, and Macarena caused a spontaneous outbreak of crowd synchronicity that prompted memories of Nutbush City Limits from my few clubbing nights in another life. Every song that Ford brought to the party caused a little cheer of recollection from somewhere in the crowd.
And whilst a lot of the music was indeed Crap (and from an era where I couldn’t even enjoy it ironically), I genuinely enjoyed the selection of music. But what I didn’t enjoy – if you hadn’t already guessed – was the crowd.
Now, I realise that I’m being an old man here (certainly older than a vast majority of the crowd), but I found it hard to justify the behaviour of a lot of the crowd. Sure, one expects such a show to be boozy… but not that boozy, surely? As people in the middle of the crowd finished their drinks, they’d just fling their (plastic) glasses towards the back of the venue… shy patrons (or those just taking a break) were showered with the detritus of others. Surely that’s not normal behaviour now?
I tried getting into the groove of things, I really did… but everyone else in the crowd seemed to be about half-a-dozen drinks in front of me, and – despite Strangely‘s friendly efforts – I didn’t really have a foil to work with. So I hung around as long as I could, enjoying the tunes and Ford’s exuberant antics… but ninety minutes was as much as I could stand.
But here’s the thing: I’ve often mentioned on this blog that I love watching dance, but have never quite understood why… I don’t understand the technical aspects of the art. But I’ve never really enjoyed dancing in public myself… and I’m way too self-conscious for that. But whilst I was in Korea on my K-Pop sojourn late in 2013, I discovered that I could actually find joy in dancing… surrounded by people I didn’t know and couldn’t communicate with, I felt free to arbitrarily move in the manner that my brain and body thought correlated to the music, and I thought I’d broken the shackles of ego and confidence. As a result, I had been really looking forward to this Crap Music Rave Party as an opportunity to shake my arse… but in the presence of other people – all comfortable in their drunkenness and experienced in the ways of western club dancing – it turned out that my new-found ability to abandon my self-consciousness evaporated. It turned out that I’m still actually pretty shy.
So I guess I’m still just a Private Dancer after all.
And if that’s not a great way to round out a post about a Crap Music Rave Party, I don’t know what is.