Electronic Music legend Richard D. James aka Aphex twin played his first London club show in ten years last 14th September, followed by a self-curated night in Manchester’s The Warehouse Project. I went to both and got to be part of the devoted crowd who had been brought together by the father of the rave in a much awaited-for UK show (or shows in my case)
I grew up in Madrid where everyone surrounding me listened mainly to the top 40 charts and Reggaeton. Rock was my genre of preference and my most-played artists were Pink Floyd, Joy Division and The Rolling Stones. I stumbled upon Boards of Canada thanks to YouTube and it lead me to a complete unheard-of world of electronic. My admiration for ambient and everything Aphex related started when I first heard Windowlicker, one of his singles released in 1999 with a video unlike anything I’d seen before. I felt so drawn to this sound. It was something so new. Something so different. I probably spent the next couple of weeks going deep into his music on YouTube and Soundcloud and was so grateful to see the innumerable tracks out there waiting for me to listen.
It’s an understatement to say how much I desired to see Richard live. He introduced me to the world of ambient and electronic, which is a huge part of my life now.
The mysterious aura that follows Aphex only made it more exciting to see the possibility of me getting to be part of one of those crowds I had seen in videos of his sets so many times before.
Hearing about his upcoming performance in London’s Printworks felt like destiny. I didn’t think twice about getting the ticket. This East London venue opened two years ago and has managed to position itself as a mecca for electronic music with line-ups filled by the most important names out there. The aesthetic look of Printworks, with high industrial ceilings and a huge space for dancing, presented to be the perfect venue for Aphex’s performances, that have such a strong visual element to them.
The London show was supported by the Italian artist Caterina Barbieri, Ugandan percussion group Nihiloxica, and Manchester producer and DJ Afrodeutsche, which were all outstanding. There was incomparable positive energy and excitement amongst all of us present that went on growing along with the incredible light show presented by his regular collaborator Weirdcore.
The set allowed the crowd to dance crazily or nod in a ‘cool’ sign of approval with a non-stopping grinning between all of us present. We were all aware of the custom of strong lighting and spectacular shows that characterize Aphex but we were all in awe to experience the manic depictions of himself and images of the people in the crowd manipulated digitally. It was definitely one in a lifetime experience.
As I feared the possibility of missing out on the London show, I also purchased tickets for his soon after the announced show in the Depot in Manchester. This lineup comes with a longer list of acts by new electronic artists and the Russian techno queen Nina Kraviz.
The opening party of the new Warehouse Project venue in Mayfield curated by Aphex came along with performances that proved worthy of the inauguration party bringing combined sounds and featuring performances from Aleksi Perala, Lee Gamble and Shanghai’s 33EMYBW, amongst others. The crowd was ready to see their idol after Aleksi Perala finished his hour set. Finally, Richard came on stage with his wife and took around 20 minutes to set everything up. The waiting felt like an eternity for many of us dying to get lost in our idol’s set.
This 10000-capacity venue played a defining role in the event boasting three spacious and industrial-like rooms, different bars and outstanding speakers.
When the first set of visuals and sounds came through, it can be felt how all of us just got a weight off and could enjoy what will be one of the best electronic performances witnessed in this year. The masterful mixing, the unexpected tracks but also some of Aphex’s very own, like Polynomial-C towards an hour into the set, made it all an unforgettable experience that left us gasping for more and confirmed him as the Father of the ambient and electronic scene.
A look into the crowd confirms the influence that Aphex’s music carries on having nowadays. Ranging from late 50 years-old to barely 18, WHP’s opening night was full of passionate people awaiting to ecstatically see, the demi-God producer. The end of the set was over too soon but it really lived up to the high expectations of Aphex’s devoted fanbase.