Well, this could go either way...I found out with 2 days notice that 2ManyDJ's are playing at Volar as part of the 8th Par-Ici French night. It's probably too late to get hold of Nick W. at hkclubbing to get me in, so I'll try leaving a card at Volar and see if that works. The staff should remember me from earlier gigs that I've reviewed. The card is dropped off and so far so...

I've arrived at Volar at about 2315 and am pleased to see Nick W. and Manek in the queue outside. Hang with the heavies, that's my motto. It seems to work as I sneak in with the gang and find my usual front-line seat/table. The hkclubbing crew walk through an exit door to who knows where and that's the last I see of them! The place is filling up rapidly. Not surprising as these French nights are getting a great "got-to-be-there" vibe. Voltage, the VJ (who I've failed to credit properly in previous reviews, mainly because no one would tell me his name) is on fine form. Seems to have revamped his visuals extensively. He's on the left, the main CD decks etc are in the middle and a laptop is in pole position on the right. Pierre, one of the main organisers of tonight's show, is getting ready to blow some minds.
 
His set is freak/orch/electronics with a Gallic flavour. The music ranges from hammered strings to d n' b percussive beats through waves of looping, phasing and pitchshifting to men-in-white-coats-lab-electronics. I can hear Hawkwind, The (BBC) Radiophonic Workshop, Tonto's Expanding Headband in the mix. Weird, but very effective. Like hearing Kraftwerk do Krunk. Or Motorhead mixing Mozart and Motown. Offbeat ideas coalescing, colliding, merging and melting into the mix. Don't know any of the tunes at all, but no matter. It's a beautiful bedlam of beats. The visuals do their part. Ovoid earths spinning, giant hands clapping. 3-D candy striped computer hearts pumping in time. Binocular vision and split screens with wireframe geometric shapes tumbling and turning. And the colours are riots of lysergic neon.

It's near the end of Pierre's set and a lovely lady called Jane(?) asks what I'm writing as I've managed to pique the interest of Stephane and David, the Belgian brothers who are 2MDJ's and Soulwax. I'm invited into the VIP lounge and have a pleasant chat with Stephane (a fellow beardie!). I tell him not to get worried if not many people dance. It's a smallish club and getting very crowded and most big gigs I've been to in HK never have more than 30% dancing at any one time. The people who want to see this gig are pretty much already inside (although reports indicate a large crowd is gathering outside as well). I meet Kiwi Matt, who is clued up on 2MDJ's back-catalogue and helps me with the odd song now and then. The champagne is a babbly-bubbly bonus. It's near 0100 and the big screen comes down as the boys prepare to play.

It's manic on stage as Stephane and David start their set. Pierre is videoing it. DJ No:Mad is next to him, along with 6-7 cuties. Matt and I are just off stage with a good view. Ladies are dancing on the catwalk at the front of the stage. 2MDJ's play an excellent eclectic mix, grounded in rock rhythms (although they're mostly electronic). Here's a snippet of Bowie's "Rebel, Rebel" over a thunderous d n' b beat. Cartoon squelches of sleazy electronica bleep and burp in and out of the mix. There are Duane Eddy cybertwang guitar riffs and 80's robotic keyboards leavened with hints of electro-disco. Matt tells me on a good night, you can expect to hear Pseudo Echo, Husker Du, The Ramones and The Clash all mashed up. Sure enough, a section of "Rock the Casbah" by The Clash is dropped within minutes of his prediction. Stephan and David are speedy as well. They play about 2-3 minutes each, or about 3 tunes before swapping places. From where I'm sitting, I can see a phenomenal amount of knob twiddling, lever flicking and sliding faders. FX buttons are punched. The whole performance is a hyper-kinetic, but controlled ballet. I'm impressed and I'm about to get even more so...

It's about halfway through their 2-hour show. The front ten rows are going mental. Cecile, who is Pierre's wife, hands David a CD cover from an anonymous fan near the front. He's just come off duty and is sorting through his CD holdall case for his next selections. He's given the CD to sign and promptly stops searching to write a small message. No super-ego vibe like "Don't-bother-me-now-I've-only-got-87-seconds-to-find-my-tunes-and-get-back-on-the-decks". No super-ego looks of disbelief like he's been asked to write an autograph in his own phlegm. No, he signs (a fellow leftie!), puts it down for Stephane to do likewise, finds his CD's and returns to the mixer, pretty much on the beat. Stephane is equally gracious a few moments later. He signs, hands it to Cecile who gives it back to the anonymous punter. That was very classy and cool, guys. A little vignette, but very telling. For me, it elevated my enjoyment. The free champagne helped of course....

About 80% of the tunes have passed me by, but I do recognise a few. A great remix of "Out Of Space" by The Prodigy slams into a re-working of "Emerge" by FisherSpooner. There was a little tease sample of "Sweet Dreams" by The Eurhythmics and a slightly longer blast of "Don't You Want Me" by Human League. A little later is the old psyche-punk song "I Can Only Give You Everything" I have versions of this at home by Naz Nomad/Nightmares (aka The Damned) and The Chocolate Watch Band. Can't quite work out who's singing. David tells me later that it's Van (the Man) Morrison/Them. Jawdropping stuff. Some of the vocals are almost helium. Alvin and the Chipmunks go to a rave. Matt tells me the boys are giving their back catalogue a real pummelling tonight. All too soon, it ends.

No:Mad has taken over the DJ decks. His set includes a slightly different version of "Out of Space" with a sort of cockernee vibe to the vocals. He's a good friend/protege of Pierre and his set falls neatly between Pierrre's way-outness and 2MDJ's arena-friendly sound.

No:Mad is a bit more prog-trance with interesting electronics and his set grows smoothly. Overall, an excellent night and you can colour me French for future monthly gigs.

As I leave Volar, I'm thinking about the rumours that Clockenflap will do another big show in November. On the strength of this show, I can see them as late night headliners, no problem. How about it guys? Maybe you can bring Soulwax along as well? Double the fun. In closing, I'd like to say it was a pleasure and a privilege to meet you both. Hope you enjoyed the CD's I slipped you. Here's to next time in HK. Be like an alligator sandwich and make it snappy. Until then....

Review by Nick L.

 

Photos of the night can be found here:

 http://www.hkclubbing.com/option,com_zoom/Itemid,132/catid,425.html

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