‘Riot beats create riots’, is the Digital Hardcore slogan adorning several T- shirts amidst the collected punks, piercers, dreads and Japanese students who pack into the Garage tonight. Not forgetting the odd average looking punter who cleverly conceals his extreme musical tastes within an unassuming exterior. Extremity is what we’re here to experience, and I for one am intrigued to find out if the hype surrounding this band and the emerging techno noise scene is justified.
Support band ICE are reminiscent of 80’s grind merchants Head Of David with rappers - unfortunately not that inspiring. We are then treated to the sound of the Harder Faster Louder Djs, who spin fragmented turbo gabba techno and drill n bass at ridiculous tempos, and strangely at a low listening volume - perhaps a policy of the sound engineer to save his hearing.
Then after some shouting and heckling an ear - splitting acid synth noise heralds the start of Atari’s set. I along with various members of the audience instinctively position the ear plugs - yes it is THAT loud. This is the mutant offspring of bonkers German techno, hardcore drum and bass and punked up rap. Most tracks seem to cruise along at 180 bpm punctuated with Ramones style start - stops and ‘one two three four’ intros. All four of the Rioters practise syncopated shouting into their mikes and one of the girls - for they are a two boy, two girl band - controls the instrument. There are no guitars or drum kits, just a box of flashing lights; main man Alec Empire runs from one end of the stage to the other and occasionally stops the show to conduct open mike sessions with the audience, to hilarious effect. This consists of him being slagged off for selling records at full price and challenged about his extreme politics. One kindly audience member proceeds to tell him ‘ I think youse are all right' which due to the language barrier is interpreted by Alec as an insult.’No I mean youse are OK mate, you’re sound’ the guy protests, to which Mr Empire replies ‘ I think you speak much better English than me’. ‘It’s not English mate, it’s fuckin scouse’ is the last word.
‘Right, you are all the Atari Teenage Riot’ we are told before the beats rev up again and massively distorted guitar and rave noises bludgeon us into submission and stage diving. The only decipherable lyrics are ‘Atari Teenage Riot’ ‘destroy 2000 years of culture’ and ‘fuck you up’, oh and one song which is called something like Fuck the Nazis, reassuring the left wing amongst us that we are not joining a fascist noise cult.
So what is Atari’s message - I’m not entirely sure, but I had a lot of fun trying to find out - they are probably the best legal high you can get at the moment, for pure adrenaline rush through music - the equivalent of a live stroboscopic manga cartoon. What we choose to do with that energy is presumably up to us. Riot anyone?
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