“I’ve seen you before,” said the man to a person with the disconcerting features of Leatherface, before being pursued through a haunted medieval banquet out into the open space.
There, Madam Rrrosita (roll those Rrrrs) is whipping up the atmosphere with theatrical use of Russian-inflected English, because, really, plain English wouldn’t seem right, and we await the obligatory opening act, which turns out to be a dancing troupe called The Dishevelled Brides, who drop jaws in unison to the sound of Meat Loaf.
Yes, the whole venue is at the beck and call of the organisers tonight (the notoriously outlandish Secret Garden Soundsystem), and you’d better be ready to sacrifice your inhibitions at the alter of the Mexican Day of the Dead. With the Brides monopolising the dancefloor to do their exotically sensual shtick, parting the crowd like fallen cherubs and writhing like demons, the onstage action begins in earnest with DJ Chloe, who follows the lead of our host Rrrosita with a gentler demeanour, but still sets our souls on fire with a choice selection of slithering pop classics. It’s only now that we actually remember what we’re here for, and anticipation grows for possibly the most unique and god-damn festive band on the planet.
Wait though, because here’s someone climbing a rope to the sounds of Johnny Cash‘s I Hung My Head, moving like a balletic Spiderman to the visceral hymn. Cash’s bleak, low-down-soulful imagery will never have been animated like this, and the venue’s balcony is utterly transfixed. Indeed, time at the Point tonight seems to accelerate in a frenzied manner in light of the melee of acts and sideshows. Along with the downstairs video artists and DJs, the upstairs balcony is home to Mystic Dave’s Palmistry, along with a face painter who retains an impressively Zen-like poise amidst the tumult, though not enough so that I would trust her with my own delicate beauty. To look around here is to let your senses be assaulted, and whether dancing, laughing, singing or falling over, the venue tonight has attracted the coolest of the cool, the most chiselled of beauties and the damnest of the damned, cavorting together like heaven and hell.
Before we know it, it’s turned midnight, and many drinks have been taken. Flipron’s Jesse Budd is manoeuvring his own little space on stage between keyboards, drums, and all manner of decorations, scuttling back and forth like an otter building a dam of outlandish instruments. A spooky keyboard twinkle later, and the place is subtly rendered an underground, adult-orientated Scooby haven, imaginative tales and melodies regaling revellers like royalty in more baroque times.
The only thing distinguishing our man Budd from a dead man is the fact that he moves. But, like an indie vampire, he feeds on his music, finding nourishment and resurrection in his tales of decrepitude and death, old-age and myth. Lap steel, sitar, mandolin, banjo and harmonica riffs float like profound spectres over the fancy-dressed spectres in the crowd, the organ textures, piano flourishes and piquant lyricism inducing smiles and all manner of intoxicated images.
To pick highlights out of Flipron’s set would be mere quibbling, as the whole thing blends into a sequence that has the general effect of all your craziest, long-lost dreams coming back home in one single frog march. If pushed though, I’d have to go for Cerberus Is As Cerberus Does, a fine tale about the infamous guard dog of Hades, slightly over the instrumental Skeletons On Holiday, which Budd introduces with what for me is the speech of the year on any night of the year, but especially one in honour of the Mexican Day of the Dead. I’ll reprise it once more here: “So, you grow old and you die. They bury your bones in the ground. There the story ends… Or does it? What happens to those bones? What do those bones do in the daytime? What do those bones do in the night-time? And, more importantly, do those bones ever go on holiday?” Indeed.
It’s all over as quick as you could sing a hymn to your dead Grandpa, which Budd does for the last song, and before we know it we’re once again at the mercy of the Secret Garden retinue’s impeccable jesting. It’s way past 3am when reflection starts to kick in and metaphors are called for, and I’m left with the following eulogy: Like all the fun of the old-style fairground re-visited as slightly abashed adult, this bash has really been something. Following the pop thread back through the haunted annuls of time has been utterly fantastic. And long-live Flipron: a bacchanalian revolution the whole year round.