Live review: Holy F**k with Buck 65

Holy Fuck with Buck 65, Camden Underworld, 16 November 2010.

We’re early into a mostly-empty Underworld, which clearly isn’t expecting a big crowd: the upstairs is closed, and so is the bar at the back of the stage area. It hasn’t filled up much by the time Canadian rapper Buck 65 takes the stage, and I don’t think the absentees missed much. He’s performing solo, rapping over backing tracks, and it lacks dynamism, although he at least tries to project some energy, dancing around the stage. Best bits are a duet with a female folk singer (reminding me a bit of ‘Stan’) and a final tune about zombies. But overall it doesn’t grab me.

Along with Caribou, who played one of the best sets I’ve seen this year at the End of the Road Festival, Holy Fuck have me wondering if 2010 is the Year of Canadian Quartets Hunched Closely Together on Stage Playing Electronica on Live Instruments (or, to take a stab at a snappier title: “Kanuck-Glitch-core”? (thanks to my friend Matt for that one) or “Moosecore”?[1]).

Anyway, HF begin with an onslaught, which is great. After the first few tunes, they lose their way slightly and things get a bit dull and generic, I’m longing for the rhythm section to start exploring spaces rather than playing a simple, repetitive beat. But then things start to take off again, as the band break their silence and the mood shifts subtly from the intense start towards a dancier, poppier vibe. There are dashes of Kraftwerk, Faust, Happy Mondays in the mix. I even start getting honest-to-goodness shivers down my spine at some of the tunes.  This stuff is good! Sure, a few cliches appear: I love that upwards spiralling 303 sound, but really, it’s too easy: the most obvious sound to use in this sort of music.

Overall though, this was a good night. HF had most of the crowd dancing, which for a Monday night in Camden has to be considered a success. I’d love to see them again at a festival or a rave – Underworld are playing the Brixton Academy this weekend and HF would have been a perfect support.

[1] Making the New Pornographers “Moosepop”. Etc. Why is Canadian music so good at the moment?

About simonchamberlain

New Zealand librarian and music fan, living in London.
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