The Nest, London
Friday March 28 2014
Apparently, I've been here before. Not in another
life, you understand, but at another gig.
It seems The Nest was previously known as Barden's Boudoir, where I saw Psychic TV - supported by current superstars Factory Floor, no less - in 2009.
One name-change and interior rearrangement later, and
the venue is unrecognisable. The stage has been unceremoniously shunted
into a small alcove at the far end of the room, which does rather suggest
the Nest isn't quite as serious about live music these days as it was in
its former incarnation.
Still, Lola's Bad - being a solo project of film maker, performance artist and left-field electropop maven Evangelia C - should be able to fit into the downsized facilities without too much bother.
Here she comes now, in a flurry of red hair and thrumming electronix. She's got more loops than a stunt plane and enough beats to build a wall. She threads her treated vocal through this assemblage of sound as if weaving a carpet - her voice essentially used as another instrument in the mix, rather than out front on its own. A democracy of human and machine.
It's a heady swirl of sonics , sometimes fuzzily ethereal, sometimes a full-on dancefloor fusillade. Evangelia herself is always moving, dipping and swaying behind her minimalist kit, one hand on the controls, one hand on the microphone. Her almost-dancing moves are (I guess) intuitive rather than choreographed, but it's interesting to see how far we've moved on since the days when electronic artists almost universally stood stock-still behind their equipment, radiating alienation as they prodded their Yamaha DX7s. Kraftwerk had a lot to answer for, let's put it that way.
Lola's Bad represents electronic music performance of now: primarily human and organic, which is slightly paradoxical, I suppose, since I'm sure Evangelia has got more music-generating technology in her laptop than David Bowie had in the entire studio when he recorded the stark soundscapes of Low.
There's a point to be made here, I'm sure, about how electronic musicians of yesteryear more or less felt obliged to behave like po-faced servants of The Machine, even though The Machine wasn't a particularly forbidding master at the time.
Now, the technology is far more capable, but we've learned to treat it with suitable disrespect. Zeroes and ones are still only tools, after all, and tonight Lola's Bad wields them with brash confidence as she engineers her own delirious disco.