Genre Bending: Carpenter Brut @ Akvárium

I was once lying on the cold ice of the Városliget rink, face down, having just discovered that I can neither stand, nor stop or get up on ice, so basically the position I found myself in was also the only one available to me altogether at that point. It was however a good position for thinking deep thoughts, and I therefore decided to do just that, and concluded that I would like to excel at things in life, skating included, the way the French excel at electronic music, in that quintessentially French way which implies nonchalance and not even trying all that hard.

Off the top of my head I’ll give you the inescapable Daft Punk, the lighter hearted Air and Télépopmusik, Kavinsky and that song off the Drive soundtrack, from the younger generation, Gesaffelstein, missing whom is one of my major Sziget crimes, or Yelle, whom I did manage to see on A38. Even if they unavoidably lie at different points of the electronic music spectrum, I can quite confidently say that I invariably recognize a French artist, even if it is the first time I hear them. There is underlying (profuse apologies for this atrocious pun) je ne sais quoi, which I would try to define as a masterful combination of brains, gut and feeling, with one which prevails and sets the overall tone of the act.

In case of Carpenter Brut, as suggested by the name itself, that would be the guts and unsurprisingly he is often associated with heavy metal acts, having been the opening act for Ghost’s US tour. Keeping with the image, he performs live with a drummer and a guitarist, who often attract attention on stage away from Franck Hueso, standing behind the synths. The man himself, apparently hailing from Poitiers, which he strongly denies, likes to stay somewhat mysterious, being perhaps secretly pained that certain compatriots have already exhausted the helmet gimmick, so he amuses himself by giving interviews in slightly Emperor Palpatine-ish poses. He has been releasing music, often in the form of EPs, steadily since 2012, and dropped his most recent work, Leather Teeth, in February this year

His metal side is tamed by a magpie-like delight in sampling catchy and camp eighties tunes, complimented by similar turns of his own, which prompted particularly inspired critics to define his music as metal dance, which does however open up a murky field of debate over how metal dance differs from dance metal, possibly settled by considering the second word as the genre to which the act belongs, and the first as a modifier. This teetering on the edge also makes his crowd a particularly mixed bunch, of the kind I’ve last seen at the Fekete Zaj festival: there were all sorts of people in attendance, from metal heads to club escapees and a sprinkling of the usual indie crowd. Minus those who thought the gig was on A38- a strange recent phenomenon, whereby the crew of A38 outsources shows prone to outsell the boat’s capacity to an external location, usually Akvárium. And there’s always about a dozen people who do make it to the wrong spot. Lesson learned: always read the fine print. Warning: Editors will be in Akvárium too.

Since mysteriousness also involves aloofness, there were no unnecessary niceties in the proceedings: Carpenter plus band showed up, blasted us with metal dance for 70 minutes, finished off with sampling Flashdance’s Maniac and then scampered off with no encore. I actually think it was closer to 72 minutes, given that I was failing as a good audience member and frantically checking the Champions League scores in parallel. Or, in a more positive light, I proved that you can multitask to metal dance and still thoroughly enjoy it, while other people pogoed to it and enjoyed it, and others flailed their arms and enjoyed it. There were even some people standing transfixed and enjoying it. Those freaks.

PS: As part of the becoming a better person project, I have again checked out the opening act, US’s Youth Code, composed of a man fidgeting with knobs and a woman screaming her lungs (and guts) out, or in keeping with our trend here, she was metal, and he was dance, though traditionally they would be referred to as EBM. They were also unexpectedly enjoyable, fueling my conviction that I would actually like the screamy lead singers of metal acts, as long as the background music were not what it is.

PPS: As part of the Budapest concert shoe watch I can inform you that Franck Hueso wears Adidas Superstars, stylishly in French colours, which have recently had a moment at the Oscars too  and also happen to be my favourite shoes ever made. No, Adidas did not ask me to say that, I just did.

PPPS: Carpenter Brut’s buddy Perturbator is coming to Sziget this summer and by all means do check him out if you’re in the area.

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