It's official: the glowstick is the essential ironic fashion accessory of the year - well, of the early part of October, at least. The stage-managed excesses of this Club NME tour, and in particular those of its wilfully idiosyncratic New Cross-based headliners, Klaxons, have seen to that. Hopefully packaged, as these things usually are, under the banner of a nationwide scene to provide an easy reference point for folks who don't like their music too difficult to track down, the flavour of the autumn is New Rave.
Back in the early Nineties, when the more cultured styles of Chicago house and Detroit techno mutated into the shamelessly commercial and typically British club concept known as "rave", it was almost acceptable for young dancers to adopt a bug-eyed, shirt-off, glowstick-waving pose on the dancefloor. Often, many would even believe it a worthwhile supplement to the already dizzyingly frantic music to bring their own accompaniment, such as an air-horn, a whistle, or some other instrument of mass aural destruction.
Hence the name of the headline act here, although it's doubtful whether any of the quartet were around to see the original movement. Possibly memories of older brothers' and sisters' record collections were reference points, because rave, like punk, was a brief but brightly burning flash in the pan. Born of warehouses and illegal gatherings, the Criminal Justice Act helped to water it down and drive it into the charts as much of the flaccid dance music we know today.
Possibly this was a good thing, because - even by the most liberal deference to youthful taste for the extreme - rave was a bloody racket. Fortunately, then, New Rave bears only minimal similarities to the old sort. Dressed in jeans and T-shirts rather than boilersuits and dust masks, Klaxons look like a regular Joe's band. With two guitars in action at any one time, alongside keyboard and drums, they still adhere to the aesthetic of a band in the traditional sense.
Their first track gives the clearest indication of where the crossover emerges. A cover version of rave anthem "The Bouncer" by Kicks Like a Mule - the creation of which initially inspired founder members James Righton, Jamie Reynolds and Simon Taylor to form the band - wraps a knuckle-headed stabbing keyboard line around an almost thrashing bassline and Righton's snotty delivery of the "your name's not down, you're not coming in" chorus line. It's loud, minimal and oiksome, and also very good, a true punk anthem with added synthesisers.
The gig continues in a similar vein, although the band also write memorable songs full of leftfield references, on top of all the sound and fury. "Gravity's Rainbow" - a glam-tinged track that sounds like Queen at 45rpm - is named after the Thomas Pynchon novel; "Atlantis to Interzone" references William Burroughs.
This convergence of influences, from their exciting minimal post-punk thrashings, bolstered by recent addition Steffan Halperin on drums, to the similarly joyful electronic car-alarm whoops and lyrical nods to counter-culture and science fiction (they have songs, for example, entitled simply "Magick" and "Time"), combines to create a sound that's pretty much unique. The similarly energising support acts Shitdisco and Datarock are the closest contemporary exponents of it, but Klaxons are the market leaders.
Shuffling between instruments and shouting out the briefest of introductions to each song, they are on and offstage in a little over half an hour. Yet no one among the many indie kids, eccentrically dressed electroclash refugees, and even a few old rave survivors would have been disappointed by such an invigorating show.
An anthemic version of the latterday dance hit "Not Over Yet" by Grace does, however, achieve greatest recognition among younger fans. In the end, it's apparent that Klaxons have gratifyingly retained the trait that characterised rave more than anything - that it was a lot of fun that didn't take itself seriously.
Touring to 17 October (see www.myspace.com/klaxons)Reuse content