Black Cab make you dance and make you imagine, with your eyes open. This was one hour only but it was a complete hour and in its own way a transportive one. Took me back and took me out. To somewhere nowhere near here.
So, yes, I haven’t been there since some half-arsed week as a backpacker, mid-Cold War, had me stupidly thinking I got something of the city. Yes, half of what I “know” comes from equally sweepingly generalised feature stories on temporary visitors such as Nick Cave and madly inventive locals whose names I couldn’t pronounce, and the other half from half understood films.
But I think we should be allowed the fanciful indulgence that the Red Rattler, an insert of a bare-walled venue on the semi-industrial fringe of Marrickville, was, for this night at least an underground club in Berlin years before the Wall came down. And no, not just because a good portion of us in the audience were black-and-leather-clad middle aged types who saw support act, Scattered Order, 30 years ago at the Trade Union Club or somewhere, and thought we were on the edge. (Which more plugged in people than me were, actually, so there.)
This Melbourne trio – two on synths/laptop/doodads, one on live percussion; one doodad-operator also on voice – offer deadpan delivery, beats that build incrementally even as they seem locked in, and rising tide keyboards. Bodies are in motion on the floor, science is projected on the screen, time prevaricates and everything feels so very mittel Europe: dark rhythms for an enclosed disco.
While even in the ’80s danceterias were about opening up experience, going outward and up in some kind of optimistic escape (“and you can dance, for inspiration”), in danker rooms with lower-ceilinged aspirations, you looked in, not out, for that escape (“Well, I could call out when the going gets tough/The things that we’ve learnt are no longer enough …. Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance to the radio.”). On this night this was one of those rooms.
This doesn’t mean grimness though: Black Cab brought cresting euphoria in Kornelia Ender and found a compelling sexiness in the aptly named Sexy Polizei. Most of the time though, as in the cocooning progressive flow of Victorious, they freed the body, cleared the environment and the mind dreamt on, set on its own path. Inwards. Onwards.