Review: Convenanza 2016

Art & Culture

It’s the event of the year for a certain type of acid house veteran – and beyond too, this is no mere fat, old bloke shangri-la, there’s young people and women too – the rave in the castle that is Convenanza, the festival put together by Mr Andrew Weatherall (I’m loth to use the word curated, as it’s become a bit of a bellend bellwether). This year’s event was expanded to three days, had an associated exhibition at a venue just outside the walled city and castle, drew together as diverse artists as Red Axes, the bonkers Fumaca Preta, a live outing for one of Weatherall’s own, current projects, those fellas from Optimo and, perhaps most significantly illustrating the increasing size and importance of the event, Silver Apples, spiritual godfathers of the kind of noise that has followed since their trailblazing 60s output (and much on display here). 

Rather than a straightforward review, or simply rewriting last year’s feature with some extra words, I thought I’d return to the old Boy’s Own style Ins and Outs column, as pioneered by Weatherall and his old cohorts on the fanzine (later used in Faith fanzine, with some contributions from yours truly)… So, here we go, Le Rock et Le Shock, the Dedans and Dehors (not strictly correct, but it works for me) of Convenanza 2016…

Dedans/Le Rock 

“It’s like a rave. In a castle!”

Overused phrase of the weekend…

Music’s Not For Everyone t-shirts

Super-limited, worth queuing up on the opening night for.

The Red Axes

Ace all weekend – the only others apart from Weatherall to play every night – but in a week when I’d seen the Iggy and the Stooges documentary (out early November, in case you’re interested – and you should be, because it’s really rather good) hearing the duo play live, complete with singer, while wearing what appeared to cut off denim jackets popular with early 80s New Wave Of British Heavy Metal fans and covering Stooges classic I Wanna Be Your Dog was one of the first day’s highlights. You’d have thought the song had been overcooked thanks to the pack of electroclash covers doing the rounds a few years back, but they turned out a suitably scuzzed up electronic version and in doing so helped give the tune a new lease of life. And they weren’t picking their toes while doing it, unlike Iggy in most of the contemporary interviews in the film. 

That Beyond The Wizards’ Sleeve Franz Ferdinand remix 

Been doing the rounds for donkey’s and a staple of Weatherall’s sets since that Space Base night at Plastic People, the early A Love From Outer Space nights and his spot at Horse Meat Disco. “Come on let’s get high…”


“There’s no such thing as strangers, only clubmates you haven’t met yet.” Loads of new best friends from not just the UK, but far beyond too

Being called “the Hairy Bikers of acid house”

Needs little explanation. Apart from the fact it actually happened. And then we dined out on it all weekend. Might get it as my next tattoo.

“I can’t kick this feeling when it hits”

Sean Johnson playing I Want Your Love during the A Love From Outer Space. What I understand the kids would have called “well balearic” back in the day.

Simeon from the Silver Apples

He’s 78 years old and he’s still more acid house than you’ll ever be.

Alan Maclean

Sometime poet, Moine Dubh label associate, another silver-haired raver putting the kids to shame. He won the weekend’s most acid house award…

London club veterans

Some of the old faces, some of them in Carcassonne for the first time, properly out and on it all weekend. 

Woodleigh Research Facility

Weatherall back on stage in a singing role, slouched over the microphone, first time we’ve seen him on box since the Two Lone Swordsmen days and quite clearly enjoying himself.

Witchi Tai To

And talking of Two Lone Swordsmen, at the end of his Music’s Not For Everyone set on Saturday night, Weatherall dug out this old colossal post-punk flavoured remix at the hand of his and erstwhile Swordsman Teniswood, giving early 80s Factory-friendly, dancefloor sensibilities to Xpress 2’s folk ditty and inspiring soppy grins everywhere. 

Fumaca Preta 

Hairy psych funk metal types, complete with face paint. “I was behind them when they were playing and I could see people dancing, clapping and others were just bewildered, they didn't know what was going on,” said a certain Mr Weatherall after the fact (or at least something like that) the next day. 

The bloke offering extras in his restaurant 

A nice little sideline.


Still got better records than you. Still probably forgotten more about music than you’ll ever know. And what’s more the former curmudgeon of techno was still doing selfies at the airport. (Not us, mind you. Perish the thought.)

The fella from our hotel…

…who drove out to the airport with our poster in a tube and hand delivered it just before the gates were about to shut. Above and beyond the call of duty.

The manchego and tomato toastie things

Served up at the affiliated Bloc G bar and restaurant outside the walls of the city. The venue hosted assorted events around Convenanza, as well as an exhibition of artwork from the now vacated Scruton Street Rotters Golf Club HQ, and also served up some cracking hangover cures. 

Napoleon or knight pencil toppers

Essential purchase from the shop at the airport on the way back. “I hear the Hitler ones didn’t do so well,” noted one wag. “Neither did Mussolini.”

“Have you got this one?”

Constant refrain from one of the travelling crew for pretty much every record played by Optimo and Weatherall on the Saturday. The answer, especially during the Scottish duo’s techno to weird 80s industrial dance things you haven’t got set was invariably “no”. 

Bernie Fabre

Patience of a saint and a brilliant organiser. Deserves plaudits for pulling so much together. And not getting annoyed when British people ask pointless and annoying questions.

Dehors/Le Shock

Losing supplies, British contingent seemed to lose lots of the little fellas…

Putting the fun back into clubbing, fancy dress, fairy lights, wigs… at a Weatherall night?

Leaving your limited edition signed poster in the hotel…Like a div

The state of some of the people at the airport on Sunday. An especially big shout out to the fella who went through security clutching an open can of beer and the incredulous face of security asking him if he was really serious about it…

The rain. First time in two months the city had seen rain. And it came down on the Saturday night…

Billy Childish. You missed a good one there, mate.

Sawdust pissing. Hippy bucket toilets. Maaan.

Marc Almond and the colour of his eggs. Half-remembered conversations about the former Soft Cell and …And The Mambas chanteur and urban myths abound. But the one about what complaining if his eggs from the cafe were the wrong shade of yellow is true, apparently.

Hell’s Angels. Still trying to work out what draws a group of bikers, all leather-clad, with huge, ahem, hogs, to a mediaeval castle and walled city. But there you go, the place was teeming with them at the weekend.

“I’ll just Shazam that”. Big shout out to the bloke Shazamming (nice verb there) EVERY track played by Weatherall and Optimo on the final night. Every track. Every single one. For the duration. Not dancing, not anything. In a sea of mobile phone divs, the one trying to identify every song on his phone is king.

Snowstorm Smashes. Finding a snowstorm at the airport on the way back is an In. Smashing it about 10 minutes later and having to buy another one is definitely out.

Missing the Truffle restaurant……because you had a Saturday evening wobble.

Telling you it’s not on next year. On the bus back to the airport, someone told us it wouldn’t be happening in 2017. And we believed them. Let’s hope not. See you down the front, etc…

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