Watch this space
So when you end up at a free gig where you actually do listen to the music, you know the company you are keeping is either that bad or the music that good. Unless you score other means of 'enhanced' inspiration. Such was the case this past Saturday (high standards, that is) at the Watch This Space Festival (www.nt-online.org/wts), outside the National Theatre (NT). Part of the festival (which runs to 2nd Sept) are free evening jazz and world music gigs in the large temporary space on the NT's uber-prime spot of the Southbank.
Saturday's late night session (10:15pm) featured Badmarsh & Shri, which to me sounded more like a hip Japanese clothes designer than a music band. I was told they played Asian Underground fusion music. Whatever that meant. But the NT stage was suitably grand, and from the first song Badmarsh & Suri filled it both with presence and performance.
To a virgin of the world music scene, Badmarsh & Shri could most accessibly be described as a mixture of techno, electronica, funk, and pop all combined in one enjoyable concert. A blending of Eastern and Western influences with an obvious Indian footprint. The best part came with Shri who coerces haunting and funky sounds from his bass. Better than any songs off the Buddha Bar CDs that I could remember.
The evening well exceeded the expectations of a free Summer's Saturday entertainment in London, and the NT is pulling out all the stops this Summer. Once the show winds up, there is free entry to the NT's late night Late Lounge (www.nt-online.org/wts/latelounge) which is open until 1am (Fri-Sat) and where everyone is invited to bring albums for a bit of DIY disco. It feels like you are crashing somebodies wedding party. But before the line dancing kicks off, don't worry.
The NT is definitely where London is at this Summer.
If also a virgin (to Asian Underground music):
A few to get you started (all which can be found on www.amazon.co.uk) and most high street music retailers.
Signs, Badmarsh & Shri
Beyond Skin, Nitin Sawhney (a classic)
Ok, Talvin Singh
Star Rise: Remixes, Various (an excellent sampling, for those who can't commit to one artist)