12 December 2014
Some gigs are consistently good throughout, some are consistently bad, and some leave you baffled, serving you the equivalent of a chicken and slug salad. Parts of it are absolutely delicious, but then other parts make you feel physically and mentally sick.
Before his gig at Thekla, Slovenian DJ Gramatik, instantly recognisable in his trademark shades and snapback cap, promised to bring a “concert experience…with a whole lot of funk and live instrumentation.” This he delivers in spades, his mixing brought to life by the addition of Russ Liquid (keys, trumpet, saxophone) and Mackenzie Crook lookalike Andrew Block (guitar). Russ Liquid’s saxophone add warmth to proceedings, and his trumpet playing over a mashup of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’ soundtracks a moment of universal joy in the belly of the ship.
Gramatik specialises in that popular genre, Giving The People What They Want. Whether plugging funk, electro-swing or hip-hop, his modus operandi neglecting subtlety and slinkiness in favour of good ol’ fashioned Bass ‘n’ Beats. Standout tracks such as ‘Hit That Jive’ and ‘While I Was Playin’ Fair’ work to make the dancefloor move in straight lines – forwards, backwards, left, right – rather than encourage spiralling rainbow rhythms. It is simple and effective.
However, as with any chicken and slug salad, there is an element of distaste. While vocalist Gibbz’ appearance for two mediocre songs numbs the crowd a little, the real villain of the piece makes itself known towards the end of Gramatik’s set. There were numerous hints given throughout the night – a raging fight in the men’s toilets over some soap, The Fix’s face being brushed by dreadlocks, a smell of dog around the venue and gun fingers in the crowd. That’s right: dubstep. The Fix was under the impression that dubstep was a comedy genre, particularly given the way the fans dance around like goons, but apparently it is around to stay. It leaves a slug-like taste in the mouth for the end of gig.
A brief salute must go to Thekla for it’s recent renovation, the sound in the lower deck remaining superb and the rest of the ship now sparkling and inviting. Maintaining it’s charmingly unfathomable navigation, it has retained its status as Bristol’s premier music venue.