The most positive emotion I can usually summon up for Zouk is extreme indifference, but that changed on Friday night, which was one of the worst clubbing experiences of my life. (Not the worst. I reserve that rare honour for the Limelight on Shaftesbury Avenue in London. If you’ve been there, you’ll understand, if you haven’t, don’t.)
I have never seen a gig get as technically fucked up as the Chicks On Speed gig did. The moment they started it was obvious there was something wrong with the sound. Their vocals were getting drowned by their music even though they were virtually shouting. Throughout the gig, they kept begging the sound people to turn up the vocals, to no avail.
The gig was interrupted numerous times by assorted technical failures. Each time this happened, the club’s DJ would start playing music while the problems were being resolved. Fair enough, but the group shouldn’t have had to scream repeatedly to him (on their too-soft mikes, now getting drowned out by the DJ’s music) to stop every time they were ready to resume.
After the show had drawn to a screeching halt for the second time, the audience had halved. This was unsurprising. Even the way they usually sound on record, Chicks On Speed are possibly too much for anyone with limited musical horizons to stomach. On a sound system that wasn’t able to handle them (unlike the Esplanade’s, where even Tortoise’s loudest, most discordant moments were completely bearable), they could only have sounded pleasant to people who regularly take pleasure in abrasive noise. Thankfully, a fair number of us were in attendance. We stayed and cheered them on, and they made the best they could out of a bad situation.
We headed to Phuture after this, and were joined by two friends of mine who had come along just to wish me a happy birthday. We started dancing, but rapidly became bored with the bland, unimaginative hip-hop that was being played. Phuture was less crowded than I ever remember it being on a Friday night. Perhaps people who know better have finally deserted it, now that places like Cocco Latte are going from strength to strength.
Bored, Alec and my two friends went to get drinks. At a bar that wasn’t in the least bit crowded, Alec was still waiting for his drink fifteen minutes later. My two friends weren’t doing well either. After inquiring about their drink orders, they were told that they hadn’t made any. Given that they had used up their drink coupons on these mythical orders, this was rather dismaying. While discussing this at length with the bar staff, my friends were assertive but never in the least bit disorderly or physically aggressive. Nevertheless, on his way to escort them out of the club, one of the security personnel shouldered me aside and trod heavily on my foot.
To cut a long tedious story short, it took them nearly an hour of wrangling with the management to get their drinks, after which time no one was in the mood to actually drink them, or stay in the club. Since the music in Phuture had continued to be achingly dull, leaving was no hardship.
It was almost amusing. Benny and Alec (on their first visit to Zouk) already knew my views on Zouk before we went there, but once we were in I didn’t actually have to say anything to try and convince them further. The experience spoke for itself.