On Thursday night, Four tet headlined The Eat Your Own Ears series at the Indigo2 in Greenwich, an incredible space with a really terrific sound and lighting system. Before we get to fawning over Four tet, however, the opening acts deserve a mention here.
First up was Kode9, whose pulsing rhythm set the mood nicely, but to be fair, we were concentrating more on the beer. Next up was the happy surprise of the exceptionally good Fairmont, who set the first brave ones a-movin’ with his danceable, meandering beats. Third on the bill was Sunburned Hand of the Man, an American psychedelic experimental folk rock band whose latest album Kieren Hebden (inexplicably) produced. Their performance was unquestionably the most absurdly affected and ludicrous one we had ever seen, and that includes some baaaaaad secondary school gigs. Two papier-mache heads were on their main table, which they sporadically struck with pins while the grey-haired drummer who looked as though he had dropped acid fourteen too many times in his heyday intensely worked away at his set. One band member, inexplicably, just stood there, without touching an instrument, his foot tapping along to god knows what beat. There was an instrument made of wooden sticks on a string, which the lone female member jadedly waved, to no effect over the painfully psychedelic noize. Oh yeah, and the neon-orange-capped fellow kept raising a shoddily-decorated wooden cross high overhead like some sort of beacon, which kept falling apart all over stage. Wow.
British electronic artist James Holden held it (har har) down as he pre-empted Four tet’s performance. After the disaster that was Sunburned Hand of the Man, which left most of the audience shifty-eyed with vexation and boredom, James Holden’s clean electronic palette re-inspired the crowd. Plus, he wore a very odd pair of shoes that were dead-ringers for socks, which is awesome.
And then, that floppy-haired, big-smiled electronic maven took the stage in a red t-shirt that said ‘yellow.’ Swoon. Putney native Kieren Hebden set up and went to work on his two laptops and the newest instrument on the market, which we’ve been obsessing over for months: the brilliant tenori-on. A purple colour palette swept over the crowd as he began his wondrously expansive set, which featured one or two tracks from 2003’s Rounds, including the giddy Spirit Fingers, and his latest album, Everything Ecstatic. Gloriously, he even threw in some tracks from Fridge, his wonderful post-rock-electro side project. Four tet transitions seamlessly between pure pulses to vibration-laden, heady palpitations. His music is more cerebral than most electronic artists, grasping you with sounds sharp as knives and cutting into the air like perfectly broken shards of glass, reflecting rainbows a million times over.
Image courtesy of watchlooksee's flickrstream.