Holy Fuck – Patterns – 23rd August 2017

The layout of Patterns is unusual compared to your typical venue, with only certain genres suited to the horizontal layout. However, this didn’t matter for Holy Fuck, with the Canadians deciding to move their entire stage onto the dance floor and play ‘In the round’ for the final show of their European tour.

Defining the boundaries of electronica for over a decade now, the four-piece are unique in the way they use completely live instrumentation and miscellaneous instruments and non-instruments on stage. This includes a 35mm film synchronizer, toy keyboards and toy phaser guns, which achieve electronic-sounding effects without the use of laptops or programmed backing tracks. They formed with the intention of sounding like a modern electronic band, but without using any of the modern methods to achieve it, such as looping and programming.

Circled around the four-piece, it gave the audience a chance to really appreciate what a complicated procedure a Holy Fuck live show is, with each subtle tweak to their analogue instruments in full view. It felt truly special to be in that environment and understand the intricate way their sets are constructed.

Offering tracks that are as dirty as they are danceable, at their essence Holy Fuck are a dance-punk band and they still retain this despite all the alternative methods they use to achieve it. Drummer Matt Schulz and bassist Matt McQuaid were always manning a steady beat throughout, with the pair providing the rhythmic backbone for the two main keyboards and effects men- Brian Borcherdt and Graham Walsh – to define the overall sound with their multitude of instrumentation.

Kicking off with the militaristic beats of ‘Chimes Broken’, it got heads nodding from the offset before the distorted bass and modified synths of ‘Tom Tom’ had audience limbs warmed up for the 90-minute assault that was to come. ‘Latin America’ then kept the pace before the funky groove of ‘Neon Dad’ had sweat pouring. A couple of power outages stemming from crowd members stepping on plugs couldn’t dampen spirits and even led to cheers; making the evening feel more special.

The krautrock stomper ‘House of Glass’ soon followed, as well as new track ‘Bird Brains’ with its murky bass and hard-hitting synthetics. Another motorik favourite ‘Super Inuit’ finished the main set as the almost sold out crowd lapped up every last second of the immersive, blistering spectacle. This led to an inevitable encore, as the four men capped things off with the euphoric ‘Lovely Allen’. Holy Fuck have always been a benchmark in leftfield electro and this experiment gave further evidence to this in what was a hypnotic night.

Paul Hill

Website: holyfuckmusic.com
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