Tag Archives: Cargo

Blatantly the best drummer alive today

John McEntire

No question. Just saw him tonight as part of The Sea & Cake (one of my favourite bands) on the Funktion 1 at Cargo. In no other traditional rock band have I heard a drummer play such a pivotal role in the way that he does, and often it’s with the utmost subtlety, that you’ll only pick out if you’re watching him perform it live (as often his drumming is a bit too low in the mix on recordings to really pick out all the detail without an intentional effort). Sometimes it’s just raw intensity when he’s given the focus. On other occasions the ways he fulfills his backing rhythm section role puts everyone else to shame, to the extent that I think 99% of drummers I hear are utterly rubbish, doing less than half what they should on any given track.

He has an individuated sense of timing that infects his bands unlike anyone else. His ability to eek out the tightest and closed-est hats at stupid speed hasn’t been approached by anyone that I’ve heard, and seems to be getting better as he ages. For instance they played The Argument tonight at what must’ve been about 180-200bpm. The original had an almost drum n’ bass feel to it, and was likely no more than 150bpm. He’d somehow removed almost all of the swing, but retained that slightest amount which imparted that funk of rigidity, a la Kraftwerk, but at a speed that no man should be able to introduce such subtle variation.

Something about operating within the confines of traditional rock n’ roll (as opposed to his work with Tortoise, as a producer, etc) has produced some of the most compelling rhythms I’ve heard since jazz was good. I wrote a small dissertation about this when I last saw them which maybe sums it up better.

I also love what he’s doing in Tortoise – even, and maybe especially the most recent album, but I don’t think it’s as surprising or important as what he doing within ‘normal’ rock n’ roll. I still have yet to hear The Man Who Never See’s a Pretty Girl That He Doesn’t Love Her a Little live, which would be the moment when McEntire’s head roles off and he continues to drum unabated, but I’ll look forward to that when they return this Autumn.

I know somebody’s gonna say what’s-his-fuck from Rush is better, or some speed metal fool, or some long-dead brilliant jazz dude (who won’t count because he’s dead) but you’re all super wrong in advance. John McEntire is single-handedly better than everything else on earth combined.

313 Weekend

No time to post now, but this is a recap via my post to [313]:

What an amazing two days! I first stopped by John (Ramar)’s new weekly at

the new club ‘the Lane’ on Osborne Street, just at the south end of Brick

Lane. I was there for most of the last 4 hours of his 6 hour set, and it was

excellent. The Voices crew are really doing some excellent stuff in London.

I’m not even sure where to begin in running down his set, but suffice it to

say that it would have met the approval of any DHP afficiando.

From there I wandered around the corner to catch the last hour of Tom

Churchill’s set. F*cking wicked! *Everyone* in the place was floored by his

selection. Every single track was devastating. I’m sort of gutted that I

missed the first hour despite hearing amazing stuff from Ramar at the same

time. DEMF-calibre conundrum…

Titonton came on and f*cking killed it. It was enormous. I’ve not seen a

techno (and a bit of house) set like that in ages. His scratching was

TP-superb and never overwhelming while his sense of how to mix perfectly

matched the tracks he was playing – like going from cut-up madness to a

three minute long-mix mix between deep house toons. And what a

brilliant chap! He sacrificied the last 30 minutes of his set to let Matthew

Puffet come on and mix for about an hour or so as they closed the 2nd room,

since he had sold everyone in the main room, then came back on after Matthew

Puffet’s (also great) set and took off where he left off. Nic Larsen closed

with a half-dozen classics and it was sealed. I seriously doubt anyone will

forget this one.

Despite a severe hangover, I made it up to Cargo for Sunday night. Some of

the best £4 I’ve ever spent. Fat Freddy’s (???)… were wicked. Their 15

minute version of Midnight Marauders was stunning, preceeded by a funk track

that was almost as long and equally epic, followed by a nearly 20 minute

apparently improvised song with a London ragga MC, which segued into the

actual song, punctuated with the lead singer’s Razzell-esque

vocal-scratching after he’d just done his Motown vocals. Wow! Very


Recloose followed with a nice dub-into hip hop and house set that really hit

the spot. I’ve never been floored by his DJ mechanics, but I have to give it

up for his sense of when to drop the (very) short mix despite one horrendous

4 minute train wreck in the middle that he wouldn’t let go. Surprisingly,

after that he proceeded to enter deep house mixing zone and rode it out in

immaculate style, carrying every mix at legth to perfection. What a way to

end a beautful weekend in London! With so much coming up, this is shaping up

to be a legendary Summer!