Fuck Buttons, Concorde 2, Brighton – 16th September 2013

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How do you shake off the cobwebs from a heavy weekend and dull Monday at work? Do you go for a run? Eat nothing but vegetables? Have a cold shower? Or listen to noise, turned up loud?

We arrive halfway through The Haxan Cloak and it’s quickly apparent that he is setting the scene for the evening. The old building shakes under the onslaught of noise, the bass hitting so heavy that the floor sways with the vibration. There isn’t much atmosphere in the room as the oxygen is trying to escape the dark drone seeping from the speakers. It’s heavy going for 8.30, and part of me is wishing I went for that run.

You might not expect Fuck Buttons to be the most visually engaging act you have ever seen. In actual fact, there is something rather special about seeing two men stood facing the other, each with his own little magic-box-of-big-sound and as into it as much as anyone in the audience. Tonight they have added two giant screens behind them, each revealing an enlarged silhouette, accentuating their movement as they conduct their electronic orchestra. Watching this is almost as mesmerizing as their music.

I used to see Fuck Buttons as a series of waves. If you stood at the back of the room you could feel and almost see the sound waves wash across the room – not over heads but through them. However their return in 2013 has seen a slight but significant shift in the form of third LP, Slow Focus. It’s still unmistakably Fuck Buttons and in some ways the songs are more conventional but the album is darker and heavier than before, and this is reflected in their live show.

Opening with the brutal Brainfreeze, Fuck Buttons precede to bludgeon the denziens of the Concorde for the next 50 minutes or so. The music no longer washes over you, it envelops, and engulfs you. Sound particles cling like sweat. Their music ranges from the euphoric rave to the distorted dystopia. Surf Solar and Olympians still soar, 21st century anthems that appear as though beacons on a stormy night. However tonight dystopia wins over as Sentients calls in the apocalypse. With no room to dance in the thronged, sweaty and mesmerized crowd we are automatons, hypnotized and in awe.

At times it’s a little too fuzzy, the white noise static produced during Hidden Xs threatens to engulf what we recognise as the song, but if you remove the idea of ‘songs’ from the mix and see the set as a piece of music, and as an experience, you feel as though you have just witnessed something quite special. It is relentless and there is little respite but in part that is what makes it work so well – Fuck Buttons carry you along with them, from having a series of waves we now just have one tsunami. There is a sense of calm that pervades despite the thunderous hum and the rattle of the eardrums; it’s hard to think, so all you can do is feel, and with that comes some kind of enlightenment. Fuck Buttons make you feel alive, even if you feel like you have just stepped out of a washing machine on full cycle.

 

photo by Aisling Finn, goldenplec.com.

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