Gabber Sovereignty – Ryan Rice
January 29, 2023
I’m on a constant search for that pleasurable audial battering of the spirit, that thumping bass that cracks the ribs and sends the body into overdrive, past the limit of human experience into pure physical release, an ecstatic brutality unlike any other. I’m listening to Drug Store Core Boy by La Peste, an old mix by a DJ who I haven’t heard anything else from, but judging by this tape, they seem to have a good grasp of how to get blood pumping. I imagine La Peste, emaciated and emotionless, looming like a spectre behind a table armed with two turntables and a menagerie of electronic devices that trigger various little noises and subtle changes in the sound, everything eventually falling into its right place as the set ceaselessly moves forward. I think of the crowd, an idealized dream-audience of faceless gyrating twenty-somethings, probably off several different colored pills and maybe some cocaine or whatever someone was lining up in the dingy, graffiti-laden bathroom. The bathroom grime is something to behold, a veritable treasure trove of muck and disease, having not been scrubbed with even the dirtiest, most stain-laden rag since the establishment popped up in the nondescript neighborhood upon which my brain dedicates to the void of lack, to dense useless buildings that mean nothing to the events at hand, and to the beats that hammer away at the audience within.
The stage is a shroud of darkness occasionally lit by the white strobes that flash on-and-off throughout the set, a punishment and a seizure-in-wait for the poor epileptics. For the others, it’s an optical discomfort, an incessant beating that contorts and morphs the surroundings into a collection of stills, placing you in the center of the action. This isn’t photography, and everyone is as much the subject as they are the objective truth of the matter, the pulsating orgy in the center of the black box of the club illuminated by the piercing rays of old, shitty stage-lights. It’s God parting the clouds and finally speaking to you, but this time he says something that matters, his voice an incomprehensible expulsion of hi-hats, shrieking samples, and synths that dig in like a needle right through your ear drum, leaving you with a nice little pop, giving you nothing more. This is what’s needed, now the propulsion of the grooves batter you into submission.
Even the people outside for a smoke break, the melancholy couple who wax and wane over a cigarette that they bummed off of some leather-clad daddy who left the show before La Peste came on, declaring that he had “more drugs and more fun” waiting for him at some other spot in the city, even they can feel the muffled murmurs of violence slamming their chest into oblivion, like a man battering a nail with a hammer, but not understanding his own strength, so the ball-peen slams right through the dry-wall. There’s another thing to pay for, another qualm to deal with, more things that cause him to sink into the “fun budget” that he allots for himself every month, the little amount that he can have to escape from the suffocating grip of the capitalistic wasteland that he must partake in, that he must do to survive. Survival has nothing to do with living. Living is for the fun budget, and there’s only so much living one can do before they’re forced to survive again, and again, and again.
But tonight, everyone’s living in the damp, dingy, dark dirtiness, this revered filth, of the club that La Peste chooses to blast their tunes out in. It’s an assault of noise, of beats, of ritualistic violence that encompasses the bones and meat of these faceless entities in the crowd for little more than an hour. An hour of this, don’t you wish it could last a lifetime? Can this terroristic audial attack pound my brain into the formless, malleable mush for all of eternity? And to think, I wasn’t even there, but I can dream.
As every note hits, the bubbling of the synths implant the embryonic birth of the anxiety permeating the audience, and as the intensity builds and builds, as the screams of the samples from the music meld into the screams from the audience, as everything moves, like being jerked on a leash, into various degrees of brutality and attack, as the world for the moment moves from the harsh mundanity of remedial capital existence into a scum-encrusted, nocturnal fantasy, the crowd morphs from individual bodies into a mess of limbs entangled and integrating into one another, penetrating each body like a blade within the new home it creates in a victim. Within the density of the crowd comes the connectivity of the brutality, when forms coalesce into a sweaty, base body of the formless, of a fleshy, mass, like the front cover of Autopsy’s album Mental Funeral, but with more of a slimy texture and a less monstrous atmosphere surrounding it, maybe more akin to the climactic writhing body of pleasure that ends Brian Yuzna’s Society. The singular mass is the product of this beating, of this incessant, violent assault that La Peste dishes out to the audience, once of many, now of one.
It’s going to be a big problem going to work tomorrow, and you know you can’t miss it. The thought crosses someone’s mind but they choose to push it to the back for now, back where the skinheads dressed in all-black stand, arms crossed, grimacing and making sure no one is looking before they let out a small head-bob to the rhythm. Now’s the time for living, not surviving. For every hedonistically violent musical outburst there is another, less pleasurable attack from your boss that waits around the corner, but tonight you can ignore that, because the beats push you forward into ecstasy, into sovereign living, free from those you’d much rather place on the receiving end of the literal violence that you wish could actualize from a French DJ’s auditory violence.