In line with the best methods of the internet I’m just going to cut and paste from Seb’s latest group email for our day three description (extensive post length, illicit drug use and deity references warning!);
“A hot Saturday was mainly spent eating, playing 500 (you can’t stop Dave when he gets the cards in his hands), working on my tan in my Stubbies – and conserving energy for a big night. But at this point a note on camp hygiene is necessary.
The most dreaded activity was the water run: when our three or four litres ran out, someone had to make the trek through the slums and up to the nearest water station. There it stood, next to the awful toilets, in the middle of a godforsaken swamp which even the hottest Belgian sun could not begin to dry. People were washing dishes and themselves at the troughs with scant regard for water conservation, and a dark brown film of slime spread ever outwards, coating the nearby tents and rendering the path impassable to those without at least shoes, and preferably gumboots (the night before I had ended up ankle deep in filth on the way home). Undoubtedly the hygiene highlight, however, was the woman washing her hair in the trough downstream from two women cleaning out pots coated with tomato sauce.
That afternoon, I donned the swimming shorts and revelled as Dave slowly poured a 1.5l bottle of water over my head, enabling me to rinse the sweat and dirt coating from most of my body. Dave’s impatience was our most valuable asset in the fight for water; a confusing situation in which some people queued patiently while others pushed in, ensuring the queue rarely progressed.
But the real excitement began as we headed in at around 10pm: the authorities were finally attempting to clear a path through the slums! If only they had stationed just one person in each field to protect the paths on the Wednesday night, the whole ugly situation could have been avoided: confrontations between security and angry campers who had been there for three nights and saw no reason to move now; worse, the poor souls who had already left for the night’s music, and who would have returned in the wee hours to find their tents callously cast aside, and a path where none had been before.
It was great news for those of us in the outer suburbs, though.
OK, I hit enter twice. That’s because Autechre are about to enter our little story.
We warmed up with the Notwist, some nice German electro post-rock; after them, on one stage – La Petite Maison dans la Prairie, it was called! – and for one night only, were Luke Vibert, Autechre and Venetian Snares playing in succession. Vibert came on at 11:45 and was every bit as good as last year’s gig at the Prince of Wales where Avalon doesn’t remember talking to me. He played new acid house, breakbeats, jungle, he mixed in Vogue by Madonna and I didn’t hate it, there was even a hint of Aphex’s Start As You Mean To Go On. I was generally failry chilled, although after he dropped Squarepusher’s My Red Hot Car and everyone went berserk I was forced to join a group of drum and bass nutters on the floor and start some silliness…
… and then, from the ridiculously awesome to the sublime, the lights went down and the cleaniest, crunchiest beat imaginable exploded out of the speakers. For one hour, from 1am to 2am in the middle of a huge party – where they should be programmed – Autechre played easily the most amazingly fluid, unrelenting mix of electronic music I’ve ever heard. It was as hard and shiny as any of their new stuff, but with more regular beats and melodies than they’ve put out in at least a decade. The crowd felt suddenly devoid of the anger and macho energy of so much of the festival. Jaws dropped. Halfway in they hit a real sweet spot with a metallic rhythm being sucked into a blender, held down and then spat back out again; the guy behind me let out an ecstatic shout and whacked me on the shoulder. I turned to see him grinning incredulously at me, and I grinned back.
As the set got darker and faster, you could see some old school moves busted out as little pockets of energy burst out. Through the crowd, hand in hand, a group of desperately familiar feral ravers charged forward to help ignite the floor. It was eerily archetypal. I shivered with deja vu. I felt like I was in The Last Battle (as in Narnia) of raves, after the train wreck and the end of the world; that, if I just hung around long enough, I would hear every favourite track and meet every person I’d ever loved, from my old crews to the guy I smoked a joint with on a misty morning on the Melbourne docks.
In other words, it was a perfect hour. I’ve never had such high expectations, and they’ve never been exceeded like that. When the lights came on, I felt like I’d just heard God. For a moment, I completely forgot where I was or what I was doing. It was seriously disconcerting until I remembered that I’d just seen Autechre – and then I was happy but I still couldn’t speak. I missed most of Venetian Snares but I didn’t care.” (photo of post
author + chhay pre-autechre below).
A link to a small snippet of totally underwhelming mono videos from Autechre’s set here & here – not that there is anything to see. The only element of that day not covered in Seb’s report, was the final act of the night – a scary German mc called Otto Von Schirach – who, dressed up in a cape with a giant headpiece on shouting intense lyrics into his mike scared us off after about 20 minutes, and Seb not long after that – he returned to camp with a frightened look complaining that the audience for Otto were all dwarves who were singing along to all of his demented lyrics!