I was talking to Nick W. a week before the Hed Kandi gig (actually I was saying I'd like to cover Shitdisco) and he asked me (somewhat plaintively, methinks) if I was going to come to his Hed Kandi show. Naturally, I said yes. Looking forward to it etc. I know they're popular in HK. This is their 4th appearance in conjunction with hkclubbing. BUT, I'd always thought of their show as rather flamboyant, effete and appealing to the metrosexuals of all persuasions. Hed Kandi are assiduous in their pursuit of the pink pound/buck. They know their market. I thought about this some more and said "So what?" It's going to be a great gig. There's a more interesting group of clubbers at these shows. Clubbers who will try and follow the dress codes, albeit with extra mascara, sky-high beehives and other assorted wigs and head toppings (and that's usually the guys!) Also, I've heard great reports about the headliner, Andy Warburton. And, he's playing with Pav, a live percussionist, straight out of sunny Ibiza. Excluding local skin-basher, Oz, the last time I saw/heard added drums in a DJ gig was the Sundissential experience back in August 2001. Lisa Lashes got busted in NZ and had to wait another 4 years for her local debut. Way Out West did a live gig (minus Nick Warren) and it's still the only performance here by John Creamer and Stefan K. A top show, and only my 2nd rave.
The gig is in JJ's nightclub, near the Convention Centre. A 4-floor adjunct of the Grand Hyatt, it could soon embark on a new phase of its existence as a half-decent clubbing venue. There's a happy crowd downstairs, awaiting entry. I spot a couple of angels all white and silver wings. A lot of people have made some effort to adapt, but all the colours of the spectrum are on vivid display. There's a tall African with thigh length dreads, which he later wraps up in an oversize beanie. Manek is supervising and chatting to mates. He spots me and gets me my ticket. I'm glad to get inside as the recent cold spell is playing havoc with my knees. It's walk on gilded splinters time as I can hear my patellas cracking. The sound is great over all 4 floors (even in the lift). Only bummer is there's nowhere to sit and take notes so I'm pressed against a temporary wall, about 20 feet opposite the DJ booth. The medication is kicking in and for the first hour or so I can't write a damn thing. Local DJ Arun, who's managed by Nick W., is playing some splendid tunes. The audience seems to know them better than me. One tune I recognise from the Shitdisco gig, but generally the beats aren't so banging. Lots of retro 80's moments, swirly new romantic synths, some spacy bucolic tones, hints of dub, electro, not too much prog. Syndrums whirl and clatter and spin out of the ceiling. Sort of like Mixmaster Morris overhauling classic Pink Floyd. Or some of the mixes that DJ Morpheus puts out of his compilation radio show sets. It's the first time I've seen Arun and I look forward to future sessions.
It's 0100 and Andy has begun his lengthy set. Pav will join him shortly and play ferociously, but intermittently. Andy is a revelation. It's like the 1st time I saw Sasha and was left mouth agape in disbelief. Or seeing Fatboy Slim's 2nd gig in HK when he was arguably at his peak. Worries about a cheddar landslide never eventuate! Andy's set appears to cycle through three distinct phases lasting about 20 minutes each. When you're thinking, this is getting a bit cheesy, he's already begun the next cycle a minute earlier. The man has timing. His set takes in highlights of Tommy Sunshine, DJ Hell and some Paolo Mojo as well. Most of the recent big hits get thoroughly rinsed. There's some freaky progbreaks with vocodorvox, grimy bass, phasing and vintage acid squeals. There's some nods to world beat, underlaid by exotic trancy loungescapes. There's castrato warblings and diabetes-inducing shimmery Italian pianos. Pav is providing live percussion that recalls vintage Santana, Grateful Dead and the bongo/tabla fury of Mickey Hart's Planet Drum Ensemble. (that's a bit sweeping, are you sure it's not the medicine talking?) No, Brady Freeman and Devon agree with me. They both think Andy is "a great DJ". The crowd is excellent. "Rock and Roll".
My favourite part of the gig comes shortly after Andy drops a remix featuring a snippet of "Bette Davis Eyes" (the old Kim Carnes hit from the 80's) For the next 40 minutes or so, he's on top of his game. A stunning blend of prog and freak beat with some great breakdowns that cause spontaneous simultaneous spinal shivers. I'm so lost in the music that I don't realise for a moment that I've been propositioned. Twice. By men. Have they got me mixed up with the late Allan Ginsberg? What's wrong with their gaydar? More worrying is what if they don't know it's broken? Nah! For the record, I've been happily married to my Finnish supermodel wife, Lena, since 1995 and am not planning any drastic midlife sex changes. Enjoyed chatting with you hunky studs though, in between the musical mania, and I'm sure we'll meet again, platonically speaking. No offence taken by me at the time and none is meant by these comments. We all enjoyed a great gig together and I hope you got lucky later at the show and didn't waste too much time on me!
What was meant to be a 3-hour set has mutated into a 4-hour set as the following DJ seems keen to let the boys carry on as they're having so much fun. The crowd approves heartily and if the last 30 minutes seems a rehash of the greatest moments of the set, well that's OK by me. I've finally found a stool to sit on and write some more notes, except that Nick W. keeps coming over to wake me up. He tells me later that the show has been recorded, so he'll be listening to it again very soon! Lucky Bastard! It was a fantabulous evening, dahlink!. Thank's so much for giving me (the) Hed Kandi Experience! ntb.
Review by Nick L.