The Fat of the Land :
FatBoy Slim Kicks Off
The venue, Makuhare Messe, is similar in size and shape to an airport hangar, with a floor-size comparable to a football field plus a half or so. When I arrived at the end of DJ Takkyu Ishino's set, the place was nearly filled wall-to wall with people. Unlike the setup of Electraglide back in February, this event had only one stage, set in the round. During the early sets of DJ 19 and the live set of Boom Boom Satellites, the stage and crowd faced more or less one direction. But by the time Midfield General began pulling out the vinyl, the stage was surrounded, with a 360 degree view of booty-shaking fun.
During this time, dozens early attendees chilled out on the concrete at the outskirts of the arena, drinking, swaying or even napping (another testament to the fact that Japanese people can sleep anywhere, anytime). Not that Midfield General was anything to snooze to, as the hundreds of people mobbing the stage can attest. His set of house and techno was punctuated by creative percussion sounds akin to what Detroit spinmaster, Richie Hawtin, does so well. Knowing of Sir Slim's imminent appearance the crowd continued to swell as the two-thirty AM switch drew nearer. It was at this point during Midfield General's set that half a dozen oversized soccer balls descended on the crowd. The balls "each around a meter in diameter" continued to sail over the pulsing mass throughout the night.
And the fun was only starting. When Fatboy Slim took to the stage, the screams, shrieks and squeals emanating from the crowd were pure joy. The side areas once designated for eating, drinking, sleeping and smoking drained onto the dance floor, bulging the crowd out to a throbbing, sweaty, grinning mess.
Fatboy kicked off with an incredible re-working of Prince's "I Would Die 4 U", tooling it into a House-party classic. And thus continued the spectacle. With turntables and sequencers at front and back, FBS is a DJ that revels in being watched, turning all the right knobs at all the right times. While many DJs in the electronica field seem reluctant to be in the spotlight, FBS embraces it, willing to work the crowd and flaunt his skills making him more akin to the hip-hop side of spinning. Mr. Slim worked the crowd, giving all sides a view of his pearly-whites. The set was filled with flashy percussion, dark beats and the hold-it-then-hit-it style that he does so well. Little nuggets of his own tunes were used as segues to the next track, which always, insistently reminded you that yes, FatBoy Slim is, and remains in Fucking Heaven.
His video accompaniment continues to improve, adding new scenes and textures to the staples of the Electraglide show. Most seemed almost in perfect time with the beats and disco, soul and 80's sampling. Interspersed between the dips and dives between house and techno were two killer remixes of the B-52's "Planet Claire" and (if you can believe it) Nirvana's "Lithium".
This made me think about one recent artist claiming to have "invented" the re-mix, which is laughable, at best. Although no one at this day and age can make this lofty claim, there are those out there who can definitely be proud of their "re-inventing" techniques. Our man, Fatboy Slim is one of them. If a solid re-mix is the Golden Fleece of DJ-dom, then our man Slim has been wearing the shimmering garment for the last few years.
At 4:30, the reigns were finally handed over to DJ Jon Carter, who had big shoes to fill. At first coming off somewhat conventional, Carter slowly moved into jagged, off-tempo beats, and abstract sampling, riding the fence between dark house and techno. He then showed his eclectisicm by pulling out electric guitar riffs and a sizzling re-mix of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean". By this time, the crowd had fallen to half capacity, as many headed for the doors at around 5:30. But by 5:45, Carter blew up again, cranking the volume for the last several hundred surrounding the stage.
To everyone's delight he continued past six, showing he was well up to the task. And that like his predecessor, he has every intention of putting the "Pro" in Progressive House.
report by jason and photo by ikesan.