After previous years in New York, São Paulo, LA and Tokyo, Red Bull’s annual city-wide events series is coming to little old London. Yes it’s all part of a promotion for a big drinks brand, but as with most of Red Bull’s well-curated cultural events, it’s great news for fans of bleeding-edge music and clubbing.
Of the first wave of announcements for this series of gigs, club and talks – which take place at different locations in August and September – the major news is that Aphex Twin is playing a headline set at Canada Water’s gigantic post-industrial playground Printworks on September 14.
Having reimagined dance music in the ’90s, Richard D James has cultivated the kind of hyper-imaginative cult following that elevates a 47-year-old Cornish man with a ponytail into an omniscient techno overlord. Away from the Aphex mythology, he’s actually on stunning form IRL. Following last album ‘Syro’ in 2014, James has been playing more regularly than usual. His sets are jaw-dropping in their slow move from punishing industrial ambience to hyperdrive beat armageddon. Add in the presence of 306 LED panels and lasers, plus visuals from Aphex collaborators Weirdcore and fascinating supports like Uganda’s Nihiloxica, and we’re convinced this will be rather special.
Elsewhere, there’s a three-room takeover of Fabric featuring the best of the UK’s bass scene – Blawan, Saoirse, Source Direct and more play at a night called Refractions. There’s also a more retrospective celebration of the birth of garage, featuring So Solid, Ms Dynamite and Todd Edwards on September 8. The distinctly UK sound came together mostly on Sundays, as nascent garage DJs could only get sets on the day of rest. So it is that Red Bull’s party, taking place at a TBC outdoor location in south London, is being called the Sunday Club.
Other events coming to London include an eleventh year at Notting Hill Carnival, a collaboration between drag performer Victoria Sin and Shy One and a panel discussion on London’s proud history of musical multiculturalism at the British Library. A new book on soundsystem culture by writer Joe Muggs called ‘Bass, Mids, Tops: An Oral History of Sound System Culture’ will be the subject of an photo exhibition at Red Bull Studios in Covent Garden. There’s also a cute event called Round Robin, which will pair musicians including Lapalux, Swindle, Mira Calix and Femi from Ezra Collective and make them perform an improvised duet! More events will be announced soon, but consider us energised already.
Red Bull Music Festival events run Aug 20-Sep 14 at various venues. Tickets go on sale on Thu Jun 20 at 9am. Now enjoy Aphex’s barnstorming Field Day set from 2017.