Words: James Budd
Images: by Stephen Czopinski. firstname.lastname@example.org
Now I’m by no means a seasoned member of the herd. More like a calf, still finding its feet in a meadow of strobe lights and established ravers. Neither am I an aficionado of the techno scene: I’ve dabbled here and there, but I wouldn’t consider myself a figure of authority on the genre by any means. However, based upon past Milk The Cow bookings – namely 2 Bad Mice, Submerse and Sage Francis – Dave Clarke had to be worth a gander.
The first thing to note would be the dedication of the MTC following. For a rave to start at 9pm nowadays is pretty much unheard of, especially with today’s pre-drinking fashion that’s popular with the young’uns. Nevertheless, once I eventually rolled up to Cosmic Ballroom (an hour late), the queue was already growing and techno was in full swing. These veterans sure know how to hit the ground running, with Funsize Jonny filling the 10-11pm slot with what he considered “warm-up techno.” It made me wonder what he listens to when he’s on top buzz. Full of synthetic, stomp-inducing brilliance, the MTC resident was up to par as ever, he could easily have played at the end of the night and it would have been just as appropriate.
The next point I’d like to raise would be the attention to detail that goes into each and every event put together by these likely lads. With a total of nine DJs in attendance, ranging from mad electro, banging acid, bleeping minimal and straight up rave, all bases were well and truly covered. But that wasn’t enough, and they went all out with the visuals too. A plethora of lasers and spotlights were accompanied by a constant stream of typically Milk The Cow images behind the DJ booth, and when the laptop controlling it decided to play up, a quick trip to Fenham and back (with a little help from, ahem, yours truly), put everything back into full swing with a replacement. Meanwhile, Pidge hit the nail on the head with a set full of the finest minimal, with blips, blops and kicks in all of the right places, which proved to be the calm before a fucking intense storm.
John Rowe: a man with a task ahead of him. The head of Hypnohouse Trax had the job of building up the crowd for the The Baron Of Techno himself, and he knocked the ball clean out of the park, with what I personally thought was the performance of the evening. There were African rhythms, funky riffs, acid sounds, everything you could ever expect from all aspects of techno; all with that stomping kick providing a metronomic thud to keep the crowd pulling all of the shapes. With his flawless selection, combined with some top class turntable trickery, John had Cosmic Ballroom’s Void speakers pounding from start to finish. It’s always good to see someone genuinely enjoying themselves behind the decks too, and the fist pumps and grins coming from John’s direction showed exactly that. Geordie Gabber Mafia’s one and only Smurf was also busy upstairs, pumping out old school acid house from the likes of Lil Louis, DJ Pierre and Armando, turning the second room into a sanctuary of nostalgia for those who enjoyed the tunes the first time around.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and Mr. Clarke took to the decks. Donning the plain black t-shirt that has become synonymous with the techno DJ, and possibly the most melancholic expression known to man, The Baron showed the Toon exactly why John Peel awarded him the title all the those years ago, whilst remaining completely emotionless throughout. I’ve seen the likes of Jeff Mills, Carl Cox and Len Faki, and Dave is definitely a contender for the best techno DJ I’ve witnessed. His skills when it comes to mixing and blending are unrivalled, his ability to read a crowd is like no other, and he still somehow managed to maintain a straight face whilst sending the partygoers wild. I wish I could name more of the tracks, but:
A.) I’m not all that clued up on the infinite forms of techno and electro he managed to play.
B.) The substances had begun to take hold by this point.
That being said, I distinctly remember New Order’s Blue Monday, some remix of Jungle Brothers’ I’ll House You, and the final tune to trump all final tunes… Underworld’s Born Slippy. As strobes illuminated the gurning faces and bin lid pupils of those in attendance, it solidified the notion that Milk The Cow is the epitome of unity. As my eyes cast over a sea of raised hands, hugging pals and ecstatic smiles, being among a more mature audience made me feel like I was 16 again, sneaking into my first rave. This time around, though, I never once felt out of place. The professionals certainly showed the youths how it’s done, but they did so without a single ounce of pretentiousness or snobbery. The vibe was communal, and everyone was there for one thing. Techno.
People could learn a lot from this, and I’m not just saying that because this is going on the MTC website. Newcastle is awash with student events and corporate, scheduled fun; Milk The Cow sticks two fingers up to them, and tells them to jog on. Providing Newcastle with a haven for those with a passion for culture, identity and community, everyone is welcome, and all are cared for. In an era when events are created to generate money, and ravers are considered as a way of making money, MTC goes to show that there are still people who are in it for the love of the music, and the love of the vibe.
Respect your elders; these old folks know a thing or two. FTDCH.
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