Thursday, March 17, 2011

Crisis, Warehouses and Raves

Have you noticed?
Right now DJ-Sets, club culture and rave music is very much in fashion.
Thom Yorke performing his DJ-Set at Low End Theory with Flying Lotus by his side

In the United States, club culture is getting bigger than ever, and it's actually becoming a profitable industry there for the first time. Also a lot of bands and solo artists are now performing DJ-Sets, trying to fit into the electronic music scheme of things. A lot of fans that were buying (or downloading) and listening to music in their homes are now only interested in consuming it the club context (even if at home listening to dj mixes, podcasts or radio shows), because of that, a lot of these artists (especially those on the fringe between pop and electronica) are now forced to have an alternative to their traditional concert.

I mean, don't get me wrong, rock artists making dance music is not new (shit, think of New York and DFA), however, right now it seems that a lot of these acts are trying too hard to look like dance music artists.

Hey, that's not necessarily bad. Recently Thom Yorke played a DJ-Set at Low End Theory and it seems to be have been a success. They launched a promo video of it, but it's not clear how technical he got on the mix. But fuck that, the audience seems to be enjoying it - unlike, for example, Peter Hook of New Order, that went around the world performing a fake DJ-Set that was simply shit.

Those examples aside, there's another reason why DJ-Sets are popular right now. As we all know, the recording artist funding system (a.k.a. music industry) is in crisis (dead?) and the only money left is in gigs. Performing a cheaper version of your live act or concert, such as a DJ-Set (that has the added factor of being an easy way of entertaining a crowd) is a great way of having a lot more gigs, since it allows small promoters to book bigger artists. It's a win win situation.

Also, don't forget that apart from that musical crisis, that seems to have been around for the last ten years, we also have now a global financial and economical crisis, that has a impact in every artist, big or small. So no one minds doing those extra DJ jobs for money.

That same economical crisis is also the main responsable for the whole rave thing being popular right now. First of all, people all over the world are doing crazy/amazing shit (crazy stuff such as overthrowing dictators and joining together for amazingly huge political rallies). They're saying: we've had enough, we won't take any of this shit anymore, we don't give a fuck. All of that revolutionary feeling is usually a powerful incentive por the production of culture, and the communal experience. So it's only expected that more people would vent those feelings by attending raves with their mates and letting go of shit. I don't know, the connection makes sense to me. Maybe because even today raves (even if legal) are still seen as a mild form of rebellion.

The Sun headline in 1989 after a huge illegall rave near Berkshire
In the UK, kid's are taking over abandoned warehouses in the middle of city and throwing smashing raves, similar to what happened in the early 90's. And that's not just a form of rebellion. They're doing that because, well, simply those abandoned warehouses exist.

Simple math right? If there's an economical crisis, then more probably companies will abandon warehouses.

As a last tought, if you read about rave history, the word crisis always comes along. And not just rave I guess. Most key youth movements over the last few decades were triggered by some type of crisis, be it political, economical or social.


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