Thom Hosken experiences an evening of firsts at Folklore in London as the Internet Barber Beats scene makes its live debut.
Back at the spot where we threw our own Double Vision event back in November, Aloe City Wrld convened a trio of international acts – ROMBREAKER, OSCOB and Macroblank – to showcase the soupy, slowed-down sounds that have exploded on Bandcamp and streaming algorithms in recent years.
ROMBREAKER kicked things off with a downtempo DJ set, featuring slick transitions and some clever switch-ups. The music worked well on the main room system, but was also piped through to the bar where people chilled on sofas amidst the bric-à-brac or played with the resident cat, Manouche. The PA could have been louder and the lights lower, but the night was still young and people were still working out how best to experience this new music.
Next, we were plunged dramatically into darkness for OSCOB’s loud and confrontational set. Wearing a Kanye West ‘Jesus is King’ t shirt, he delivered a theatrical performance of ugly-beautiful sounds in front of a screen showing clips from Blade Runner 2049, American Psycho and The Joker. At one point, he lip-synced along to a Joker monologue before an abrasive drop, accentuated by sharp twists of FX from the MIDI Fighter controller. We were probably being trolled at times (why is he showing a long video of a Volvo being constructed?), but the audience was on-side and up for an unpredictable experience. After the event, on social media, OSCOB and his supporters discussed how well-received the set was and how the reaction contrasted with typical responses to their online antics. These live experiments prove that Internet Music is a very different experience IRL.
Concluding the night, headliner Macroblank played to a packed main room, selecting tunes that were more explicitly danceable (faster jungle and garage beats) with fun pop samples like ABBA’s ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’ snuck in to the mix. It was a polished, genre-hopping performance by a confident artist and accomplished DJ that would definitely translate to settings other than nights solely devoted to the Barber Beats niche.
At future events, I would love to see the distinctive visual aesthetic of these artists’ album covers brought more to life, like with the generative/live-coded projections at Pure Life’s live event. Maybe Folklore’s shabby, bohemian vibe broke the immersion a little. But the good vibes on the dancefloor and brisk business at the merch stand proved that Barber Beats has a bright offline future.
Written by Thom Hosken