Aug 20, 2023

Belief to the Max: What my brain enjoyed at BlueDot 2023

I never thought I would make it to BlueDot Festival. As mentioned in a previous blog post, my brain exploded and I've been quite poorly.

But made it, I did. It was a real achievement, like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, or even more impressively, the moon walking all over Neil Armstrong. One small step for a pre-stroke Roland, but a giant leap considering my recent circumstances. 

BlueDot is an annual festival dedicated to music and science. The music often has an electronic music bent, which is my favourite kind of bent. And the science side of the programming is especially relevant because the festival takes place at the Jodrell Bank observatory, its giant outer space magic dish looming wherever you go.

Honestly, that dish is so dang cool, firing its radio waves with abandon at the furthest reaches of space. The dish constantly moves throughout the weekend, and during headline performances it becomes the trendiest projection screen this side of Venus. The dish is especially exciting for Doctor Who fans, of which there are many at BlueDot. Firstly, a TV prop version of the telescope killed off the Tom Baker Doctor Who. And secondly, the dish often moves position when you're not looking, like those scary statues in Blink.

So let's go through some favourite acts from the weekend.

Pop powerhouse Georgia plays all of the instruments all of the time. Joyous sunshine on a cloudy day. Her father Leftfield also played the festival, Neil Barnes' perfect sound design making him a contender for the loudest act of the weekend, perhaps tying in the decibel destruction stakes with the raucous Snapped Ankles.

We danced like crazy to Acid Klaus, a wonderfully hedonistic party band led by Adrian Flanagan from the International Teachers Of Pop. Onipa was my surprise of the weekend. They gave us a relentless Afrobeat explosion led by human Duracell bunny KOG. Irresistible  Ghanaian rhythms colliding enthusiastically with UK electronica. And the bawdy electrostomp of MADMADMAD brought on the cowbell apocalypse while, later in the gig, channeling the ferocity of very early Chemical Brothers.

There was so much more, including Grace Jones and TVAM and Creep Show, but let's end things with my top two bestest fave acts of the weekend. 

Belief were in many ways on of the simplest acts in the line-up. Two guys, a bunch of gear, not much else. But when it's acid house of such housey acidity, I'm not complaining. Oh, it was so good. 

And all hail Max Cooper, whose audiovisual extravaganza I'd failed to catch on two previous occasions. He. Was. Stunning. One of the best gigs I've been to, with super duper techno gorgeousness soundtracking colossal juxtaposing visuals. I mean, really colossal. Front rail, eyes the size of jellyfish, brain flung into the cosmos.

There's much I missed, including most of Grace Jones because I was busy maxxing out to Max Cooper. The endless deluge of mud curtailed much of my casual browsing, so I missed Adam Buxton and Toby Hadoke and Pavement. The one talk I did catch was the brilliant Matthew Cobb talking about all the horrible diseases that are going to destroy humankind. Maybe not the best talk to attend when you're up to your neck in mud, but hey ho.

A special shout-out to Nina, Nick, Dave, my surprise neighbour Angela from Nine Arches Press, my glamping tent which lessened the worst effects of the mid, the topless drunk dancer who fed me pizza, and the horrible person who did a big Mr Whippy poo in the showers.

Roll on 2024.

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