The Verse’s Matt Austin tells us what he thought of Flume’s gig at Alexandra Palace on the 17th November.
So first things first, I am not a flume fan. Aside from a few preliminary streams before the gig, I had never given him much of a listen. So when I acquired a free ticket I was a little apprehensive to say the least. Furthermore, the dance scene is almost definitely not my scene, a statement that was reinforced from almost the minute I entered the grand rustic halls of Alexandra Palace. This was exemplified in the average age of those around me, capping at around 15/16, most of whom seemed to be there to blow off steam from GCSE stress. Naturally, camera flashes dominated the hall: the visual representation of thousands of teens taking the perfect photo to update their social media. After all, if you go out and don’t update your snapchat story, what’s the point? Before the music started, the show felt less like a gig and more like a particularly large night club, like a tame Ibiza with really expensive alcohol.
Then, the lights dimmed and Helix, the intro track of the new album, slowly began to fade in. It continued to fade in for the next five minutes, during which time the slightly drunk crowd was feigning interest at best. Some of the more inebriated couldn’t remember a time before the intro, that was all they’ve ever known. Finally, the first few notes kicked in and a roar of approval went up from the crowd, the curtain dropped and the stage flickered into life as Flume took his place behind his laptop; and that’s exactly where he stayed for the rest of his hour long set, behind his laptop, pushing buttons. To give him credit, he was almost certainly doing more than simply pressing play on his mac, but from the audience’s perspective he may as well have been. Although when he pushed buttons he did a damn fine job of it, every move was flamboyantly over exaggerated in order to make the performance seem as interesting as possible. Any attempts to get the audience to clap along to the music however were often futile, as no-one tends to clap with phones in his hands (Naturally the crowd is a sea of phones being held up to capture every moment). Occasionally Flume picked up a microphone and shouted something inaudible to the crowd, just to remind us that he was there and was probably doing something worthwhile.
When you get tickets to a Flume gig, you’ve actually gotten tickets to a lights show – which is spectacular. Complete with lasers, giant floating cubes and psychedelic morphing visuals, it’s an exhibition to behold. It’s clear that the focus of such a show isn’t so much the performer as it is the music and stage production. It’s exactly the kind of production that lends itself to sizable venues such as Alexandra Palace.
Whilst I may not have been completely sold by Flume’s act, it would seem he had the rest of the venue eating out of the palm of his hand. People danced to literally every song, proving not so much that his songs were worth dancing to, but more that his fans will dance to anything with a pulse. Hits such as Holdin On garnered an excited response, and beer was tossed across the venue to anthems such as Smoke and Retribution (featuring a pre-recorded Vince Staples and Ku-ka). There was even a moment where someone got caught up in the madness and threw an entire burrito at me. Singalongs were also frequent, most notably during break out hits Never Be Like You and Say It. However its highly unlikely any of it would have been heard over the gut rumbling bass notes, going low enough to rupture the spleen of anyone over the age of 40.
In summary it would be unfair of me to condemn Flume and say this was a bad gig, it had the atmosphere, he had the songs and most of the crowd went home content. Ultimately this was a different gig, a gig where light shows, obscenely low bass and massive drops were kings. A look into a culture of those wanting the biggest beats, the highest of highs, all of the time. A look into a culture I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand.