New Year’s Day has traditionally been absolutely shit for me. Last year I ended up buying an ice lolly for a taxi driver in a desperate attempt to get him to drive me home, and then when I got home I blacked out and apparently ate chinese food directly off a table with my bare hands and talked about parachutes. The year before I ended up in a warehouse in Seven Sisters whilst some rubbish beatboxers were doing offensive things in my ears (beatboxing, fyi) until I blacked out and apparently played table tennis and talked about helping India out. The year before that I can’t even remember, but it probably involved me blacking out and doing something shit.
That’s why this year; very much like George Michael in the smash hit WHAM! single “Last Christmas”, I decided to give my New Year’s Day to someone special. And by ‘special’ I mean good at playing songs that I want to dance to. And by ‘someone’ I mean Four Tet and Daphni. And by ‘give it to’ I mean go to The Hydra for the Eat Your Own Ears New Years Day special with Four Tet and Daphni so I can listen to them playing good songs that I want to dance to.
So there I was. I’d been to the house parties, I’d been to the after parties and I hadn’t blacked out yet, which was a good omen. I’d never been to a new year’s day rave before and I have to say after my last visit to The Hydra I was pretty excited.
The first thing I noticed as I entered the cavernous basement was the friendly punters. Thing is with New Year’s Day parties is that everyone seems so relaxed. It’s like everyone has already climaxed and are now bathing in the warm afterglow, like hundreds of people sharing the same sweaty bed sheet, but instead of listening to some post sex D’angelo tunes everyone is like ‘Nah fuck that let’s bang out the thumping techno’.
And bloody thumping techno it was. Listening to the majority of Four Tet and Daphni (or Caribou) stuff on record and it’s usually on the more relaxing side of progressive house and sometimes electronica, and having heard neither play out live before I was half expecting them to carry this on. But no, they were only here to obliterate my post new year’s eve comedown with a torrent of lazer precision bass kicks that the Hydra soundsystem aimed directly at my chest with the force of a Bruce Lee leg kick.
The great thing about having such sonic wizards as Four Tet and Caribou DJ was that although they were playing hard hitting bass heavy songs, their delicate awareness of sound meant the beat matching was razor sharp, and they never let two tracks become muddied or too dense together. Added to that was the haunting melodies that seemed to lurk insidiously in every mix. I found myself on numerous times half recognising an ephemeral loop of singing or piano from a Four Tet or Caribou tune before it disappeared and was lost forever in the tidal wave of noise.
And yeah, fair play, I’d been up for a long time by then but the lighting near the end of the show was really something else. As I nervously checked my watch; mentally ticking off the hours and minutes I had left, I was bathed in waves of blue, swam in clouds of purple and closed my eyes and let huge swathes of white wash over me. Shit was getting fucking religious in there I’m telling you.
As the last song played out and the cave of holy dreams began to empty I was rejuvinated and ready to take the day on full blast. These guys had just curated an inch perfect set of stirring techno that reinvigorated my love for all things new years, plus made me feel like I was in someway close to god, except that god turned out to be a couple of hundred people sweating out in a club as if their lives depended on it. Even though I’m now I’m back at work and caning the 5HTP like it’s going out of fashion, every now and then I still get glimpses of the white light and smile.
(Photo credit - Here and Now)