The neon air crackles with atmosphere and countless freshly crunched glow sticks mapping out manic traces of raw enthusiasm.
This may be Hadouken’s first gig in the city (and their 20th gig ever) but despite having released only one limited edition single, the crowd is chanting every word of every one of their songs back at them.
To give credit to so-called new rave would be obvious, but it’s misleading.
The new rave tag (originally cracked as a joke) seems to serve only a divisive function, and tonight is all about inclusiveness. It’s certainly a label Hadouken! politely decline. They’re too young to have listened to rave in the first place, as they point out with fresh-faced smiles after the gig. Instead, they’re from a far less arched, and far more powerful place.
The seismic shift they represent is one they share with bands, including ones in the Leeds indie scene where they developed; bands who sound (and look) nothing like new rave. It’s about a change of ideology which embodies and embraces the completely new way music is now created, disseminated, discovered and consumed. As singer and Hadouken! mastermind James says, “It’s a good time to be in a band.”
The venue is full of kids who not only know all of the lyrics having downloaded his bedroom-recorded tunes months ago, but who also sport home-made shirts – which they quickly customise some more by splattering them with the contents of their complimentary glow-sticks.
They’ve discovered this music themselves, through their friends or one of the countless blogs springing up everywhere. Along with a DIY vibe and the most catholic of tastes, these fans exhibit a completely positive, and dare I say it, empowered belief in their choices. Uncle Rupert may now be the titular head of the sponsoring network, but there seems little doubt as to who’s leading who.
James shuffles around in front, alternatively drawling and barking out his unaffected vocals, full of conversational rhymes from everyday life. He sees no point in speaking – well, shouting – with anything other than his own voice. His lyrics are blunt, even crude in places, but he’s just talking about what he knows, like he knows. Just like everything else about the band, it conjures up a fresh sound.
Whilst the band happily admit they’re still “honing their stagecraft,” they can’t fail to vibe off an atmosphere like tonight’s. They build up juggernaut momentum from banging opener Superstar to a wildly climatic That Boy That Girl.
If there were any malingering doubters – maybe those few who’ve come to see Ali Love (sludgy ego-funk) or Pull Tiger Tail – they’ve now been converted. Whilst That Boy… may be their biggest tune, throughout the set Hadouken! prove why they’ve become such a Myspace lighting conductor, banging out a succession of similarly sharp, yet accessible songs.
It was never a conscious decision to be revolutionary that’s just how things are now. None of them smoke, none of them just want to get pissed. They’re all soon to be graduates who simply want to explain how they believe things should be. They’re from a new, savvy, switched-on generation.