Amidst a rather manic week, I was able to have a bit of quality time last night. A bit of culture.
I went to see Faust. No, not that one, nothing to do with Goethe et al either. Faust the band - the anarchic, chaotic krautrock musical legends. The daddies.
I'd like to see them again tonight, then tomorrow night, then the night after...
A tiny, intimate venue, holding between two and three hundred people, was the setting. Two hours of pounding motorik beats, experimental jiggery-pokery and a delicious disregard for health and safety regulations (example - Jean-Herve Peron using power tools on an old oildrum which showered those of us lucky enough to be right at the front with sparks) was the result.
Bands who have a reputation for being experimental or avant-garde are often seen as pretentious, overly serious or po-faced. Faust were definitely experimental, but the overwhelming feeling I was left with was just how warm an experience this was. If Faust are out there, they wanted us, the audience, to be out there with them. Between the two core members (multi-instrumentalist Jean-Herve and drummer Zappi Dermaier) and a couple of guest musicians, they effortlessly managed to make the venue their own playground with a sound that was huge and expansive, yet which simultaneously served to bring everyone closer toward them and create a rarefied, inclusive atmosphere.
You don't get to see many gigs these days where a band member (again, Jean-Herve) stands atop a cement mixer in the middle of the audience playing a French Horn, or does some ironing for some lucky audience members. It all made sense during the concert but I won't try and put it into some kind of context here. Except to say that it was all part of the experience, woven into the performance, a set of seemingly random happenings which all came together in a surreal but beautiful way.
What was refreshing as well was the sheer glee with which they went about their business. They've been around in one form or another for a long time but had the enthusiasm of kids with new toys. Far from being old and tired, they're on amazing form.
But before my prose starts to get even more purple, I'll just say a few more words about the music itself.
They played, they delighted and, to devastating effect, they rocked.