Home Is Where The House Is 1. Areolas @ Tool Box London 27/01/2018
Saturday 27th January 2018
Areolas @ Tool Box London - Saturday, 27th January 2018
For our first piece we thought we'd start with a very special night from our own music Mecca - London...because why mine for copper when you've got gold in the garden shed?
Now, I've probably been to over 4500 EM nights in the last couple of years but England's and, truthfully, the UK's capital still has some of the most exciting aural offerings the world has to offer. The night we had managed to get tickets for was set to be nothing short of a 9/10, but I was in for something even better. Probably 9.5/10.
I met the usual bunch of reprobates for some ales and tales before I mosied to the venue. I asked the gang if any of them wanted to come along because I bought a spare ticket, but all of them seemed to be either swamped with something unavoidable or just "shattered" (and my mate Jack "won't listen to anything that's not psy-dub").
A lot of my friends have recently started to get married and have kids and cauterise every nerve ending that gave them a sense of fun, so I made my way to Tool Box on my own, content (and £28.50 out of pocket).
After a swift 1.5 hour journey across the city, taking in four rail networks, two more bottled IPAs and a quick rollie outside Leicester Square station - which I realised afterwards set my oyster card back significantly as I had to tap out - I got to the venue.
Tool Box is a London EM mainstay. The 45,000 capacity former sheet metal warehouse has been home to some of rawest acid house and vacant techno nights this side of the Iron Curtain.
My personal Top 5 things about the venue:
1. The second best Sidecars on planet earth. (No prizes for guessing the best).
2. The Dutch room. One of the venue's spaces for EM nights is a suede lined 10m x 10m black box space dedicated to bringing you the tightest tracks from our cousins in the Netherlands.
3. It's BYOB. Tool Box still has a license that means you can bring your basil.
4. Umbrella Thursdays.
5. Steve Weatherhead. Steve has been the manager of the venue since 1999 and will still regularly interrupt world class DJs' sets to read out safety announcements to the venue. Steve has been paranoid about the health and safety conditions of Tool Box since his niece Clare lost an ankle to a rogue smoke machine in 2002. Steve doesn't like to talk about it outside of his office, which he still invites friends into for a vintage Stella Artois at 3pm on the day of the gig.
Back to the night... I've seen Areolas before. I've seen Areolas on a number of occasions actually. I even kissed Areolas' step-cousin at a house party once in front of a room of thirty to thirty five people. Every time I've seen Areolas it's been either life changing, life affirming or just a really, really, good night.
Areolas is a Lebanese-Finnish reductive techno pioneer who emerged from the Helsinki scene in the late 1990s. He came to the attention of fans of house fans across Scandinavia when he played a fourteen hour boiler room session at the Fjällräven factory in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, despite only being at the decks for twelve minutes in the middle of his set.
Akkhi Wiss called Areolas' debut set: "beyond the comprehension of any human mind".
The inside of Tool Box was as the name suggests, full of tools. The walls were lined with hammers, screwdrivers, spanners, jacks, braces (not the trouser ones), joints (not the weed ones) and spirit levels (both the tool and the numerous liquors that they had behind the bar). The swell of excitement and the ether of musical elation, that seemed to take the form of dry ice, consumed me. I choked on the fumbling ecstasy that surrounded me, and it went straight to my head. I was in on something special here.
My toes tapped their way around the floor, sticking for a moment like a kiss with a lipsticked Parisienne from a Chanel advert or something and then enjoying a melancholic but euphoric release, my shoulders shrugged to the synth but not out of not knowing, I felt I knew everything. I began to think of Immanuel Kant, of John Toland and as I caught my enlightened face in the mirror of the disabled toilets (I like the extra room) I could've sworn it was Toland looking back at me.
I chatted to a few fellow pilgrims in the smoking area to see what their vibe was. I asked a girl called Katie if she had seen Areolas before. She said she had. I asked where. She said in the Hospital and told me that she was a nurse. I assumed she was referring to the Lyon electronica mainstay. "Was it good?" I asked her. She slapped me in the face saying it was none of my business whether it was good seeing Areolas in Hospital.
It was an awful question in fairness. Of course it was good. It's Areolas. My excitement surged.
When I re-entered this Temple of Boom, the support acts had begun their sets in style. Clive Frequency had taken the helm and was playing new material, for once, spliced with some feng shui house from his 2013 release: 'Kryptonite and Day'. The minimalist arrangement of the album's third track 'Cupboard' backed onto with a version of the lacerating 260 BPM 'Leaked Nudes' (NB: the human heart normally runs at about 80 beats per minute...) was enough to whet my appetite.
Following Clive was the indefatigable Barly. She actually played for about forty minutes longer than she was supposed to, and, even though her set was nothing short of spellbinding (including her new single 'Not Enough Infinity' - yes, the eight minute epic where she sampled the sounds of Stokley Carmichael speech at the Free Huey Rally from July 1968 over a Frankie Knuckles baseline), it did disrupt the venue's preparation for the evening.
Prior to Areolas appearing, I saw my godmother's son, Jake, 19, at the bar. We decided to do a shot of Tequila. Not my cup of tea usually, but I was in a good mood, and I thought I might wet the whistle. I sucked on a lemon, threw back my Jose Cuervo and fingered the bar for the salt, realising that in the hysteria of the raving Valhalla that we'd found ourselves in, I had done the tequila routine the wrong way round. Alas, nowhere to be found.
I tried to catch a bartender's eye but he was distracted, serving his customers. Jake saw me trying to get the workmanlike bartender's attention. He knew what I needed.
Jake's small quantity of personal salt that he strangely had on him did the job as Areolas emerged on stage. He opened his set with '48 in a 40 Zone' (claro que sí) and I'm not exaggerating when I say that I thought it was great. As Areolas continued, spinning a cool hybrid of future house, dubno and classic trash, I began to feel a strange but binding energetic connection to everyone around me.
I asked the man I used to trust what the salt he had given me was, thinking that maybe he had brought some Maldon Sea Flakes with him for his customary after-rave Philly Cheese Steak.
"No man, it was drugs. I bought it off my mate."
Now...I don't take drugs anymore. After a bad night out in Inverness while I was at University I won't take them, especially not at gigs. Drugs completely cloud my judgement. I don't mind people who take drugs, whatever kind, but I just prefer to experience music sober.
Having said that...
It turns out what I had taken was an altered form of the popular party drug MDMA, called 'Crimea'. I had never heard of it before, but after about 28 minutes with the recreational dust in my system I was beginning to feel its effects in full flow. It transpires that 'Crimea' has a lot of the same effects as MDMA, and generally I was in extremely happy and forgetful spirits, but the principal side-effect of the high was that I started to believe I was Florence Nightingale and that I had to medically attend to everyone in venue one-by-one as the Crimean War tore on around us.
I frantically moved from body to body as the 'Lady with the Lamp' for nearly two hours. Despite my insistence on providing medical support and/or consultation, everyone seemed glad to see me, and kept telling me that I seemed "really nice" and that they "love me" so obviously Florence is still a relevant and popular figure.
When my visions of Crimean battlefields and infirmaries subsided, I enjoyed Areolas once again with a slightly milder high.
I asked Jake what his name was. He told me.
Areolas wrapped up with a sixteen minute extended cut of his debut 'Ribbed and Dotted' which dislodged three or four different tools from the wall of the venue. Unfortunately for Areolas, one of the spanners that fell from the wall concussed a woman of about 25 and Areolas agreed to donate his fee for the night to her in an attempt to stop her trying to squeeze Areolas for more.
When I returned home, the sea mist sky rising above London like mist above a wave of sea, I sat down with Jake, who had somehow managed to scrape his way into a £36 Uber with me. I experienced a satisfaction rarely known to me at that time of morning - 8.21am. Tool Box lived up to its name, Areolas - superb. What a way to start this journey with you pilgrims.*
*the majority of this blog post was written today between 8.25am and 9.05am, with edits made at 3:30pm to 9.30pm. I don't know what Jake was playing at with that salt, but I've just edited this, ordered a Papa John's and watched Shark Tale on repeat all day.
Over and out. For now...
RATING: 9.5/10 (as I said previously)
[posted at 13:34, post recovery smoothie]