Avant Garde are in danger of becoming the club-night equivalent of a life support machine, pumping the acid, if not the amino back into London’s increasingly sclerotic frame. You’d have more luck finding a glimpse of knicker in a Saudi soap opera than you would the same gusset-searing audio thrills Maceo Plex, Modeselektor, Tennis, Eagles & Butterflies & Axel Boman delivered at Bankside Vaults this New Years Day.
Equally elusive around here is a large-scale commercial night that captains a crowd and a vibe as on point as its beats. Avant Garde consistently pull an oozy-warm, music focussed lot. A far cry from the band of human-analgesic techno tourists that often put the brakes on a night of this size in the U.K.
Half an hour before closing at 8.30 am, the night’s almost at capacity with 1500 people still reeling on 125 BPM. Axel Bowman’s mercurial 2 hour impromptu B2B with DJ Tennis, together with Maceo Plex spinning out ACDC – and the crowd- in the final hour, laid a salvational smack of stardust on the tail-end of an otherwise sorry year. Meanwhile Denis Horvath, EG’s spandex-hot tip for 2017, dolled out a set so grabby, Tinder should likely consider his Soundcloud in favour of its algorithm as flirt-bot come 2018.
EG caught up with co-founder Nick Bell – British pilot come techno masseuse – to enquire about the driving force behind Avant Garde’s own particular brand of fun:
EG: Tell us the story behind Avant Garde?
AG: We started early 2014 with a view to bringing a more, well, melodic sound to the London club scene. We’ve always been fans of electronic live acts and electronic music that was actually musical, rather than just a repetitive kick drum; both Ben (Prince, co-founder) and I had a definitive musical direction of where we wanted to go. It seems there was a group of people that felt the same.
EG: What have been the highlights for you?
AG: The first Maceo one was up there. As well as having Apparat and Trentemoller play for us in 2015, both are icons of the scene and thoroughly nice guys to boot. The Apparat event was something of a breakthrough for us and established the brand in London, allowing us to reach beyond the smaller group of friends and followers who attended the Corsica Studios events. I’ve heard a number of people say they miss those smaller events, so I’m sure those more intimate events are something we’ll look into revisiting in 2017.
EG: Music’s rarely an easy ride?
AG: It’s been a huge battle to get where we are, and we’ve come close to the edge plenty of times. Margins are razor thin and the competition are ruthless. We’ve always put on events with the thought that we’d do it ‘the right way’, which inevitably means ‘the hard way’.
With an increasing emphasis on live acts, including RA polled top three, KiNK and Stephan Bodzin set to play this year, we can expect more magic to follow from London’s finest emerging funsters in 2017. Despite every effort to the contrary, EG has been unable to get the lowdown on a ‘big, big upcoming project’ set for imminent release, but this, alongside some exciting festival collaborations mean that the only way is up right now for a night that does exactly what it says on the tin.