Scott King’s The Festival of Stuff – ‘a laptop late night fantasy’
Once you get started, it’s very difficult to stop. Late nights idly spent on YouTube is a pastime that most of us, especially music fans, can admit to indulging in. Dragging yourself away from a small-hours-session on the ‘tube takes real strength, so addictive is the video sharing platform. I’ve spent countless nights (and let’s be honest, plenty of time in work) wading through rock history, bizarre comedy sketches and war clips from the last few significant decades of the 20th century. What can I show for this? Not much more than a thorough knowledge of Vic Chesnutt‘s scant YouTube presence and a claim to have watched ‘The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall‘ about 50 times.
Finally, something decent and worthwhile has emerged from this videomania – ‘The Festival of Stuff‘, a 70-minute mash-up of obscure music, nature clips and anything else discovered on the YouTube travels of artist and graphic designer Scott King. To anyone who gets their kicks from finding magic amongst the endless hours of grainy footage that can be found on YouTube, King’s ‘laptop late night fantasy‘ is easy to relate to. King’s belief that pop culture’s ‘essence’ lies around the edges of the main attraction – the music – has resulted in an attention-span-stimulating quest through many different obscure sides of music culture. As King puts it, his interest lies in the ‘gestures, hair styles, clothes and accessories, visual productions on stage or in video clips‘. It’s a ‘festival’ that all of us could create – a showcase of our own obsessions, tastes and quirky interests.
Making its debut at Berlin‘s Foreign Affairs Festival, King’s headfuck of heavy noise, up-close shots of mad eyed singers, pounding rock music set to clips of bat nests and other assorted madness certainly went beyond what anyone could have expected from such an evening of entertainment. A live element in the shape of a quintet of dancers mimicking the dance moves of the late Ian Curtis from the band Joy Division, latex-clad transvestites and more brought King’s indulgences to life. Of the intermittent performances, the most unsettling and downright odd was of a white-clad haggard woman who’s wrinkled face was spliced with clips of a ‘kids Sex Pistols audition‘.
The centrepiece of the evening’s live element was a performance of a ‘micro opera’ entitled ‘Adventures In Dementia‘. Based on the story of an impersonator of Mark E Smith from The Fall, the 20-minute production involved our hero accidentally knocking down racist Skrewdriver singer Ian Stewart whilst en-route to a caravan holiday site. Most of the action was played out through a number of striking Fall-esque songs written by English songwriter Luke Haines and performed by Haines and a small cast of actors. For any fan of The Fall, it was great fun to see such a well observed performance from the actor playing the M.E.S impersonator and Haines’ playful Fall soundtrack. To my eyes and ears, it fit in perfectly with the evening’s quirky theme. Incidentally – Haines’ involvement in ‘The Festival Of Stuff’ was the main reason for my attendance. Haines is a fantastic songwriter and who has written many great tunes over the past 20 years. His old bands The Auteurs and Black Box Recorder are well worth investigating.
Was there meaning behind this night of stuff? Perhaps with Scott King’s own laptop fantasies realised at The Festival of Stuff, we’re now able to cobble together a bit more of an idea behind what the purpose of all this stuff really is. Or perhaps not.
For my review of Gruff Rhys and his band Neon Neon‘s performance at the Foreign Affairs Festival, click here.