Sunday, 9 May 2010

Revenge of the Bang Face Weekender

Just the other week me and "the accomplice" journeyed to the south coast for the Bang Face weekender. It was a total spur of the moment decision to head down after wangling a guest list place. Preparation on the Friday involved consuming a pot of bombay mix (see above) and watching a documentary on Chanel head honcho Karl Lagerfeld.

The man is right leg end - anyone who has a notice in his toilet saying 'Pissing on the floor isn't very Chanel' as well as enough rings on his fingers to attract a really massive magpie is all reet by me.

Watching Karl fiddle with his many iPods was a solid mental foundation for the unhingedness which unfurled over the next 72 hours. Little in the way of kip apart from brief stints of passing out and sit downs, it was a hectic mash up full of big vibes, dinosaur costumes and hard electronic music.

Some of the funniest tings which occurred at BF went down out of eye or ear shot of the words I put together for an ickle review. Watching a Planet Mu artiste blow chemically enhanced dust into the face of the 'singing man' was a real moment. As was listening to Normski calling out for valium on Bang Face TV and hearing the Squire of Gothos drop this at well pasttime bedtime on Sunday morning in one of the arenas...

Props to everyone who put us up/sorted us out while we there. It was a character-building couple of days topped with a restful game of scrabble and a gourmet burger. The review which I concocted when the synapses began exploding in the correct manner is below... I managed all of four very shit photos while I was there... Cripes...

“Are you still alive?” “Are you off your chops communing with prehistoric types?” “Does no reply mean you’ve given all your possessions to a hippy?”

When I eventually regained full use of my fingers, eyes and limbs sometime on Tuesday and got to grips with my mobile, these were the sort of messages coursing through it. We’d just returned from the Bang Face Weekender on the south coast, the three day and night blow out celebrating all things hard and ravey. Like a radioactive glow stick, the festival retains this sort of unholy aura where relatives (if you dare tell them what you’re up to) and chums (who fully know the score) are worried about your ability to survive the weekend with everything intact…

While physically set by the seaside at Pontins in Camber Sands, BF’s mindset is located at the coal face of the rave - it’s gnarly, grimey and arguably difficult to navigate without the aid of a canary. It also attracts a full gauntlet of electronic adventurers incorporating a mix of fresh new
blood (Numbers’ Jackmaster and Night Slugs’ Bok Bok played on the Friday) and more elderly statesmen of acid, jungle, techno and children’s entertainment. Dave Benson Phillips was down this year, apparently spending much of Friday evening gunging festival goers. It’s simple, yet heart warming fun for all the family. In a way.

The location adds more layers of hype to an event already bloated on the stuff. The chalets are run down to the point of semi-disintegration while the number of leisure activities available provides a sharply naive contrast to the sledge-hammer hardness of the line up. Bouncy castles rub shoulders with go-karts, grabbers and the swimming pool. It‘s nice to see the promoters offering ravers an opportunity to truly unleash their inner child other than through buckfast and balloons.

The popularity of this year’s bash meant that the chalet system was somewhat oversubscribed by the time we’d sorted ourselves with wristbands. So without beds and not being complete sickoes, we decided to venture down on the Saturday afternoon and take our chances - We shouldn’t have worried. I didn’t even get to open the tiny bag of spare nappies I’d packed.

When we arrived after getting revved up on prosecco on the train journey, the place seemed relatively calm and sedate. Apart from the odd blast of break core from the chalets, and the occasional vacant eyed dancer staggering about, the do didn’t appear all that unhinged - until we caught a viewing of the pool party on Bang Face television in the chalets. The cameras appeared glued to the various cracks and crevices of the minority of females in the pool while male swimmers thrashed around to the savage jump up soundtrack on offer. I’ve never seen the like. It was made all the more surreal by host and BF resident DJ Normski screaming for valium throughout the show.

From that point in, Saturday night rapidly descended. We ventured into the main body of the arena to take in the sights at sunrise, which there are almost too many to clock at BF. The ‘Juracid’ theme meant many of the crowd were dolled up as dinosaurs complete with masses of signs - ’Hungry and chalet less - spare 10 pence for meow’, ’Need money to buy Stephen Hawkings-style computer’ were some of the pick being brandished by the BF Hard Crew.

Out of the line up on the Saturday, we had a wide range of heavy business to get our teeth into - Older party boys Altern8 proved they still had it in the main room with an abrasive volley of broken dance while Matthew Herbert took a massive detour from the wispy electronica of his current One One solo album and opted for the wonk high way. He lay down some snarling Berghain style techno a la Weatherall. The boffin’s sound of funk, big lazers and general messiness belied the meticulous mixing and his smart attire.

Dubstep poster boy Joker stood up to the plate next and slayed the main room with a crunching dose of purple, large enough to demolish a stadium. A remix of Rihanna’s Rude Girl knocked the venue sideways while his own rerubs and productions did similar levels of damage. I’ve never seen a DJ drop such danceable business while remaining so nonchalant behind the wheels. Sheffield’s Squire of Gothos mopped up the second room for the final slot at 5am and got a suitably ridiculous murk on for the occasion. The visually peculiar pairing - one gigantic of stature, the other much shorter - provided relief to their own bassline boom boom via Mariah Carey‘s Honey, Seal’s Kissed by a Rose, and Livin’ Joy’s Dreamer. It was a suitably bizarre climax to a deeply bizarre eve.

After time was called on the onsite naughtiness, the only place to continue the antics was in the chalets. It’s in the depths of the accommodation that your physical and mental agility gets its most extreme testing and one can really look those personal demons straight in the face. Old skool garage leads to old skool damage.

Sunday was more about the fun and games after the hard crew had calmed down - Despite the massive amount of sleep deprivation, we even ventured out to the Camber Sands beach for a brief spot of sun bathing before continuing with the party. 1Xtra’s Tim Westwood proved to be the star turn on the Sunday, dropping a lorry load of hip hop bangers from behind a laptop and egging the BF crew onto a higher plain. Elsewhere the Countryside Alliance (featuring the brilliantly named Farmer Giles Peterson) did damage and the Orb got all floaty and electronic for the finale. By this stage mindlessness was beginning to set in and we ended the evening raving in the Bang Face TV room while the likes of Midnight Star & Usher’s Touch That Midas Girl were laid down to those still stupid enough to be up.

We managed to avoid sleep for the most part of the Sunday eve, then head off at a respectable time to meet the cold shower of reality. Despite only being on site for less than 48 hours, it felt like we’d been residing at BF for weeks - bumming fags of strangers who 16 hours later are your best mates - sitting in chalets chatting total rubbish with men in bright headgear and generally losing the plot in mindmelting fashion. If you like your rave, hard, stupid and wearing big bovver mates made out of bass then Bang Face is the place for you. Although there might not be any point in taking any spare clothes…

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