Banging My Face

You know when things don’t quite go how you planned them to? Well last weekend I had a fairly different set of outings in mind to the one that I actually ended up on.

I had tickets to see Charles Bradley on Friday, followed by a demonstration in London on Saturday and a trip to ATP curated by Stewart Lee to catch Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon later on. However somewhere between Friday morning and Friday lunchtime, that all changed and I ended up bundled into a car heading to Bangface in Southport.

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This was actually my first time banging my face at this annual weekend rave up and possibly my first time in a Pontins since my teens, when being a waiter became my escape from the grimness of the inner city to the grimness of the British seaside. Back then we only had 2 kinds of Hardcore music, Hardcore or Happy Hardcore, I was generally to be found next door in the Jungle room but I wasn’t adverse to a few hours lost amidst the likes of Clarkee or DJ Dougal. Nowadays of course, the choice is that much greater. For the most part, the beats got faster and harder and of course then fused with my beloved Jungle to create the likes of Breakcore and Raggatek, or the brilliant bastard son of Hardcore and Drum N Bass, Crossbreed. At Bangface, you could find all of the above.

Ray Keith and Bladerunner satisfied my inner old skool Junglist perfectly and I also enjoyed Luke Vibert’s set, representing his Amen Andrew side, though as I was watching him whilst waiting for a friend, there was a part of me wishing I was next door listening to Billain, which sadly never happened and I learnt not to try and wait for anyone for the rest of the weekend (it’s small enough not lose anyone for too long).

The only Breakcore act I caught was from Stazma the Junglechrist, whom I had stage managed at Fusion Festival a few years back. He played a brilliant set in the smaller sweatier Queen Vic room though I ended up hopping between him, Ray Keith Vs Bladerunner in the Bang Room and The Bug in the Face Room, who came with Riko Dan and Miss Red, probably the best suited two emcees I’ve seen him work with.

Aside from Billan, I couldn’t think of three Drum N Bass acts I’d have rather seen at Bangface than Noisia, Black Sun Empire and Current Value, none of whom let me down, playing ridiculously heavy sets with enough twists and turns to keep me hooked for the whole duration. If that’s your flavour then I highly recommend the new Current Value album ‘Biocellulose’ on Critical Records. We had it on rotation in our chalet.

It was a shame that Current Value lost nearly half the room after Noisia but it seemed most people were headed to either Vandal or the Off Me Nut takeover. Okay full disclosure I didn’t quite make it all the way through Current Value either and caught the end of Vandal’s set also. Originally releasing on my hometown label of Plastic Raygun in Cardiff, Vandal is now in demand all around the word for his Raggatek Dubplates, always smashing it whenever he touches down (pretty much every time) at BoomTown. I’m looking forwards to catching him on our Scrapyard stage this year and I think we probably listened to this mix of his more than any other over the weekend too.

Speaking of our Scrapyard stage, one of the DJs I was most looking forwards to was Angerfist, a Dutch Hardcore DJ dressed in Jason Voorhees style hockey mask and hoody who was, perhaps rather randomly, one of the first DJs we decided to book for the stage. I was surprised to see him on the Bangface line up, as it’s rare to see him over here (one of the reasons we decided to bring him over) but it was the perfect chance to see how he’d go down with a UK audience.

Luckily he totally smashed it, and despite having plenty of dodgy Trance like synths in tow, the Gabber beats roll insanely heavy with big Horror and Gangsta Hip-hop breakdowns, loads of fun to bang your face to and ultimately one of my highlights of the weekend.

Representing the origins of Dutch Gabber were Rotterdam Terror Corps, formed back in 1993 and with a slower but equally brutal stomping sound to Angerfist. There were also the additional live naked erotic dancers, though as I have a habit of rarely facing the stage when I’m dancing, I pretty much missed that side of things.

After RTC we opted for a little ‘light’ relief in the Off Me Nut room as Titch from Squire Of Gothos played the most fun Hardcore set imaginable, in fact I’ve still got Mysterious Girl by Peter Andre running through my head at Gabber speed (I might not ever forgive him for that). By this point the room was tightly packed and sweatier than a sauna in the Sahara so we escaped as soon as everyone’s tops around us started getting removed (prompted by the 12 or so people behind the decks).

Of course there were loads of other great acts over the weekend but it’s impossible to see everybody and more time than was sensible was spent at various random chalet parties, out in the sunshine, deciding whether to go to the pool party or not (we opted for no but then after speaking to Jacky Murda who had been DJing there, we decided we probably should have), or watching the fascinating Bangface TV, who managed an ingenious three-hour panel show about crisps, followed by an hour with an ‘expert’ on ships and then an indeterminate amount of time on somebody’s Facebook. I honestly couldn’t do it any justice by explaining, it was one of those ‘had to be there’ moments, but trust me it was brilliant. Actually, come to think of it that pretty much sums up the whole weekend. Maybe see you there next year.

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