Electronic Beats festival is always a nice reminder of the summer festival season come autumn. Last year even the weather was decidedly summery, but this time we had no such luck- the smokers were huddling in the freeze in slightly inebriated and a tad grumpy flocks as we arrived (un)fashionably late, missing Joy Wellboy. For yes, no matter who comes to Budapest, there’s always that bit of the evening spent in turn of the century Central European angst when you complain how the line up in other cities is just better. So Joy Wellboy did not make the cut and we cannot say whether that was a good decision or not, but the Youtube material we found did not point anywhere beyond standard Berlin club ware. The crowd wasn’t impressive either, so we’re either right, or a bunch of ignorants all of us. The last few tracks, seeping out from the main hall, were however a pleasant score for the free goodie hunting which is a must at any Electronic beats event- the lovely fluoro ear plugs will come in particularly handy at some hellishly loud concert.
Next up were Zoot Woman- also known as: “Where’s the Woman? There’s only two guys there!”, uttered with the desperation of a child who got broccoli instead of a candy bar. So the blokes making up Zoot Woman were alright, but proved all critics right on the point of their last album being slightly rubbish- whenever a new song came on everybody suddenly had the urge of hitting the bar.In praise of the bar: this year they had a variety of beers including the enjoyable kind as well, which reduced our grumble mode considerably.
The main name on the bill was of course James Blake, and, judging by how packed the venue suddenly became, you had the distinct impression that most people came exclusively to see him. Which in turn fails to explain why so many people were surprised when he failed to deliver a straightforward “I will dance myself silly” show. His more atmospheric tracks were greeted by shuffling to and fro, confused bitching and moaning and the odd guy yelling his guts out with a story he thought was so funny it must be shared with a few dozen innocent concert goers.
James in turn felt a bit awkward- truth be said, judging by the previous footage of him, that is his default setting- and managed to mess up a tune so bad he had to start all over again. Top marks for honesty though, and for ending the concert with a low tempo tune instead of the usual “I shall now blow your minds away with a hyped up version of My Biggest Hit”- even if none of these scored particularly well with the oafs in our proximity. We did however get the distinct impression that there was a group of die hard fans right in front of the stage, so hopefully they were more civil about the proceedings. There were the occasional glimpses into why Blake is one of the most feted electronic artists on the scene, but all in all, the feeling was a bit lukewarm, but I can only insist on the fact that James Blake is simply not what people expect from Electronic Beats, at least not in Budapest- I would very much love to see him on A38, for example, and hopefully someone will have the bright idea to organize that show in the near future.
James Holden was apparently raucous and dancy and all those grand things people came for, so we’re all happy for them, but we decided to take our leave before the crowd made the night trams unusable. On which night tram we saw a young man dressed as Conchita Wurst for Halloween, which in some twisted way is a very fitting end to an Electronic Beats festival.