Live Music + Gig Reviews

Hexstatic @ Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, London

23 September 2004

You’ve got to be pretty damn sure of yourself to hold a gig in the arse-end of nowhere. Either that or sell your tickets advance only – no door sales, which is exactly what Ninja Tune’s Hexstatic did when they held their album launch party. Not that that bothered me, of course, telling my unfortunate companion that I know Bethnal Green like the back of my hand.

Cue thirty minutes later after tramping up and down Cambridge Heath Road, three-inch boots in hand and flagging down an unfortunate cab to take us 30 seconds round the corner to the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club.

“I told you it was just here,” I joyously exclaim, spotting the bunting draped outside the club. My pal tactfully declines to reply. Ah well, here finally, and with the party not two hours in – 9pm – the place is rammed, packed to the rafters.

My navigational skills mean we’ve missed Andy Organic Audio‘s first DJ set but Stoke Newington’s Bikini Beach Band are in full swing, resplendent in hawaii shirts. They’re playing a mind-blowing set of surf-rock covers from the likes of Nirvana and sound like a very cool 21st Century The Shadows. No Hank Marvin or Sir Cliff Richard loitering in the background, mind. Shame. There’s also a cheery beach-blown cover of Joy Division‘s Love Will Tear Us Apart and a random The Darkness song in there.

Then, a brief respite, and back to the bar for a shamefully small glass of wine. I convince myself, and regret this afterwards, that it makes more sense to buy two at a time. A Working Man’s club: ladies’ drinks in laydees’ glasses?

Soon, Robin and Stuart Hexstatic take to the stage – there’s no mistaking those pounding, fill-your-ears electrobeats. But this being Hexstatic they want to fill all your senses and soon those novelty 3-D specks I was handed on arrival start to make sense: screens surrounding the band are streaming three-dimensional scenes featuring robots, animation, dancing toys and live AV cut-ups.

Indeed, Masterview, released on October 11, is the pair’s second completely AV album (their first being the UK’s first). The CD/DVD features synchronised videos for every track and extras include 3D anaglyph versions of some of the vids. The pair play, amongst others, recent single Salvador and the lush beats and electro elsewhere bodes well for the upcoming album.

Set over, and it’s back to the Bikini Beach Boys to entertain as the audience filter off to find their way back home or… somewhere.

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Hexstatic @ Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, London