The Black Box was once again the Mecca of devout jazz fans as the Belfast Jazz Festival came to a close last Saturday. A remarkable night of music and one of the most outstanding performances to date, it was an unforgettable experience.
To kick the night off DJ Jason Deadman began instantly with a striking combination of visual graphics and a great mix of sounds which created a hypnotic and psychedelic ambience. Returning throughout the night between performances, he maintained a steady and relaxed, atmospheric flow. The visuals on screen, in their bizarre Monty Pythonesque fashion, worked wonders with the music that brought an entirely new intensity to the night. The graphics, however, were not restricted to DJ Jason Deadman alone, these visuals helped stimulate each performance to new depths.
Boxcutter was next on the stage, after some difficulty with sound while starting up he compensated quickly with his funky, soulful blues guitar played over electro and techno dance tunes. With his awkward yet casual stance on stage, he is unstoppable in his approach. Reminiscent of the prog rock musings of Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ updated with the feel of Primal Scream’s ‘Screamadelica’, so unconventional was this visceral and powerfully energetic performance that you become lost in the entirety of his surreal and dreamlike style. Between his style and the visual graphics continuing at the side, it was a set of many oddities, all of which can never be forgotten, and will hopefully be seen again soon.
The concluding act to the night and to the festival, GoGo Penguin, came upon everyone like a tidal wave. Groundbreaking and wild was their playing that they unleashed a storm within the room, and within the audience, in a heartbeat. Changing feverishly from fast to slow, hard and merciless and soft and easy listening, they made an immediate impression. At first I was mystified as to how two DJ sets could precede the main act, especially at a jazz festival, then it became clear at once. Heavy in drum and bass and fast in tempo GoGo Penguin picked up exactly where Jason Deadman and Boxcutter has left off. They were equally controlled and chaotic as the previous two sets and just as unpredictable as to what and how they would next play. Consistent and in perfect harmony with one another, GoGo Penguin excel at pushing the boundaries and imagination as to what these instruments are capable of. Mixing jazz with funk and a healthy dose of drum and bass, this trio, take you through a mindfield of emotions and mental images.
The night was, to say the absolute least, spectacular and grew better with each set. The music was original, hypnotic and when coupled with the graphics, gave the effect of experiencing an acid trip. If, by some miracle, these three performers had not been enough then you’re in luck. Each set was more than willing to continue with one more song, much to the pleasure of the audience. The Black Box was once again packed out by a horde of eager fans, and wherever Jason Deadman, Boxcutter or GoGo Penguin appear next, the same is likely to happen again, so try and make sure to get in early to get a good spot. Joe Smyth, GiggingNI.com