Monday, 29 September 2008
Saturday morning had begun badly. The alarm had gone off late (6am as opposed to 5.30) and I was racing headlong down the M20 towards London with sleep still nestling in my eyelids and the ghostly dream of coffee many miles ahead of me. The ipod, hardwired into the car system is cranking out some of the new edits I've done of late, & subconsciously I'm already at work, analyzing the mixdowns with a fresh slant, deliberating on how to adapt them next time I free up some studio time. I'm going to be on time, no doubt, but living so far away from the airport means that you have to factor in the straight-up randomness of the M25 and leave plenty of time.
I meet up with Ben (Rogue Element) at Heathrow as we're scheduled on the same (indirect) flights to St. Petersburg, but already I've been shifting uncomfortably in my seat in a packed coffee house, watching a stubborn victorian fog enveloping the airport. A glance at the flight display. 80% of flights delayed by an average of 90 minutes, ours included. Connections will be missed in Frankfurt. "They'll put you on the 5.55 at Frankfurt sir". This means a 4-hour layover and arrival at 10.30pm local time .... as it is, we don't even leave Heathrow until 1.45pm and it already feels like we're halfway to Australia.
It's around 11pm when we arrive in this beautiful Russian city, but Ben is due on in under an hour & a half, and with a 30 minute drive to the hotel, and another 20 to the venue, there's enough time to drop bags, mentally note the contents of the minibar & head to the venue.
The venue is a giant & cavernous uber-Soviet exercise in super-sizing, all bare concrete & marble. Whilst the main hall would comfortably hold 6,000 people, we are playing in the vast entrance hall, which itself holds close to 2,000 at a guess, and the atmosphere in there is properly lively. Matt Cantor holds court with a set of pure bombastic badness - a carefree throwdown of bootlegs and gnarly thrash that veers from the disasterous (2 Unlimited Bootleg) to the magnificent (Fatboy Slim's original Renegade Master mix ... haven't heard that in, er, forever, but full-bore mosh-pitting ensues) to the sublime (finishing with a Ray Charles classic).
After a rockin' set from Meat Katie (video above) I play out the night at 4.30am and I'm pretty pleased with my set & holding the floor to the death. However, at one point I dropped a particular track that I'd been having one or two doubts about, arrangement-wise, and literally half of the crowd had disappeared when I looked up. It wasn't a 'I'll get my coat' moment, more a case of them having evapourated into thin air. Suddenly I felt like I'd smoked a pack of 20 & had something caught in the back of my throat, and this lasted until the end of my set just after 6am. It transpired that a fight had broken out, and someone had let off a Tear Gas canistor, hence the mass evacuation.
To my great surprise, Mark, Marcello (Plaza Da Funk) and Ben were still upstairs in the VIP area ... surprised because each time we asked for a drink, they'd bring half a pint of vodka or whisky, and a coke chaser, and they'd been mopping up everything that came their way for the last 5 hours. Despite Mark's best efforts to persuade us to indulge in the breakfast ("they'll bring us wine man" ... "it's a fucking breakfast buffet, man - they don't DO wine") we slunk off for a drunken 3 hour doze before heading off to face the long journey home.