Last Thursday’s Pop Cosmos was another of PC Music’s rare live shows, assembling together the collective for an evening of non-stop music. In the run up to the event at London’s Scala, gig-goers are told that this is an evening to “lose yourself in an immersive journey to the end of time.” The stage is decorated with poorly made space-age objects, and the merchandise stand is lined with reflective foil as if it were the outside of a space-craft. It’s as if the collective are suggesting they are from the future, or at least accelerating at the speed of light towards it. I believe this understanding of PC Music is incorrect – future music is not headed in this direction. They are instead a reaction to mass consumerism and hyper-marketisation, critiquing the present.
While the Danny L Harle might have been top of the bill, this was an evening where all of the PC Music collective were equal. Each artist takes to the stage for no more than 30 minutes. The homogenous nature of the net label’s catalogue results in an evening where the boundaries between each artist begin to blur. This is a collection of artists who are variations and mutations of each other, often coalescing to form new projects.
The evening ends with a set from Harle, an artist who has quickly found his place at the top of the PC Music hierarchy. His music is less alien and more accessible, compared to the obnoxious electronica of some of his peers. While other artists in the collective have made music that seems solely for personal consumption, Harle has written and produced tracks that are made for the club. Emblazoned on his t-shirts and interspersed throughout his set in the phrase “huge danny.” And his music adheres to this; it is massive, epic, and “huge” in its radio success (relative to his PC Music collaborators). At one point Harle leaves the comfort of the mixing desk and prances around the stage shouting at someone dressed in a green morph suit. Soon they work together and throw free “huge danny” t-shirts into the crowd. Like good consumers, the crowd lap up their free gifts. Does Harle do this to mask the quality of his set or is this all part of their hyper-consumerist critique? We’ll likely never know, as the collective are incredibly secretive. As his set enters its final moments, he picks up an electric guitar and drones into the darkness of the night.
Before Harle’s slightly disappointing appearance, A.G. Cook performs a smaller set of more experimental tracks. His brilliance is what holds the collective together, and his frequent collaborations with external artists gives him more diverse material for the evening. QT (of ‘Hey QT’ fame) drifts across the stage halfway through Cook’s performance, delivering to Cook her branded energy drink. It’s an ultimate tease that never pays off (to the crowd’s disappointment).
Hannah Diamond joins him at the 20 minute mark adding her child-like vocals to his catchy chiptune-like backing tracks.
By far the highlight of the evening is GFOTY (Girlfriend of the Year), whose set comes off the back off the release of her latest EP, VIPOTY, performing the same songs as on her tour with Animal Collective earlier this year. Energetic, dynamic and unhinged, she shares the stage with two dancers who play off her moves. To the amusement of the room, GFOTY starts the her time on stage with ‘Got My Chad,’ miming with a high-school prom inspired band. Soon after this mock performance is finished and the suits are thrown off, the real set starts. GFOTY screams and shouts at the audience, admitting that she is no singer. Her music is more spoken word than singing and there’s an honesty to her lyrics that makes her so refreshing. Each artist that is part of the PC Music project has their own distinctive character, and among these GFOTY is most interesting. It is an obvious parody of lad-culture from a female perspective. Whether or not her performance is empowering, however, depends on your perspective of casual sex and intoxication. GFOTY is no stranger to controversy – with a number of unacceptable racist remarks in the past – and her performance reflects this; it is provocative, lyrically and in its choreography. As she leaves the stage much of the energy of the night leaves too.
The order of the night has no relevance. There is no clear progression between the slightly distinct sounds. Others in the collective also make appearances, but the are barely memorable. I once thought PC Music were deadly serious, but it’s obvious they’re a joke – a parody of popular culture – even if they aren’t willing to admit it.