live review for the skinny
With a line-up of James Holden, Rocketnumbernine, Nathan Fake, Holden again and Four Tet before Caribou, Sunday evening’s ABC lineup has a mini-festival feel to it. James Holden's mercurial dinner time techno slot tricks this sell-out crowd into thinking it’s 2am Saturday night, partly because we've been dancing for a couple hours already. He slides between bass-heavy bangers, slivery grooves and laser-driven mechanical shuffles until we’re all just about ready to spill out home to bed.
But it’s still only 10:15, and time for Four Tet to take over. Despite his albums’ more delicate style, now is definitely not the time for Kieran Hebden to slow down. So Holden's huge 4/4 kick drum remains, but louder now, so that its low frequencies grind all over the more fragile sounds of his new album. Everyone keeps dancing, of course, but there’s a feeling that Hebden might’ve been able to exercise a little more subtlety had he played earlier in the night.
After five hours of continuous beats, the 15 minute break for Caribou to set up as a four-piece band is a bit of a mood-killer. For their first few songs the crowd seems tired, and faced with Caribou’s more complex rhythms it takes some cajoling to get everyone moving again. That we would could never have been in doubt: a spectacular Niobe, propelled by clattering cymbal fills on every eighth bar, sets it up; more terrific drumming and scintillating noise for Melody Day ratchets the energy levels up again, and we’re not even on to the Swim stand-outs yet.
Jamelia, sung well by an unwell bass player in the absence of Born Ruffians’ singer Luke, swings cutely over a clickety woodblock rhythm before exploding in shimmering squall; Odessa's deep parping bassline and clattering rhythms sound profoundly weird and utterly compelling on this huge scale; and trippy encore Sun is stretched and pulled and pressed and dropped and revived til it’s mesmerised us all three times over. It’s a huge end to a night that seemed to have peaked too early, before Caribou proved it had never peaked at all.