[Excursions] Funk’d @ The Aberystwyth Boat Club (review)

puss puss© Eddie Whitehead Photography 

What: A music event with performances from Roughian, Sgilti Ysgafn Droed, Endeser and Cloaka // When: March 13th, next event slated for May 26th // Where: Aberystwyth Boat Club 

Review: In an age in which Spotify are obligated to offer users the option to hide their guilty pleasures from public view and a BBC Radio One presenter can expect a standing ovation for admitting to liking a Taylor Swift song, one wonders if music listeners have ever been so self-conscious. A song such as Mark Ronson’s impeccably-produced pastiche “Uptown Funk” arguably reaches the masses by deftly dousing inherently cool funk tropes – spangly horn sections, raspy James Brown posturing courtesy of Bruno Mars – in 2014 hedonism. The track’s reluctance to attempt anything truly innovative was apparently of great comfort to consumers on a worldwide scale, and as inescapable hits go, there was still much to enjoy about Ronson’s irony-tinged emulation of a brand of music that is more perceptibly credible by mere virtue of its age.

But it is a notable lack of irony and inhibition that marks out Aberystwyth’s Funk’d as a distinctly joyous music event. The musical jamboree – which has been organised by local musician Gwion Llyr for almost two years – emblazoned the Aberystwyth Boat Club with an eclectic eruption of disco, IDM, techno, and house. The choice cuts of both resident and touring DJs represented a multitude of decades, with the titular genre only sprinkled occasionally throughout.

This is a night in which recently canonised dancefloor staples – from the giddy, neon-drenched EDM of the Avicii and Sebastien Drums collaboration “My Feelings For You” to the irresistible deep bass pulsations of Jauz’s “Feel The Volume” – shamelessly rub shoulders with juicy remixes of earthy classics such as Anita Ward’s “Ring My Bell” and Ray Charles’ “Hit The Road”. The effect is an intoxicating sense of spontaneity and airborne excitement, and these are excerpts from just one set; that of Aberystwyth’s own electronic music duo Roughian, comprised of Llyr and Steffan Woodruff. Sgilti Ysgafn Droed, Endeser and Cloaka, the evening’s much-buzzed-about headliner, all turned in stellar showings.

Although unassuming in both size and reputation, students and local residents alike should find the Boat Club to be a welcome deviation from the town’s leading nighttime venues, Why Not and Pier Pressure. It has the slightly rickety maritime charm of the latter, coupled with the former’s USP. Yes, you heard right: one may drink on the dancefloor. The venue’s bar-club duality is easy to navigate thanks to a spacious smoking deck, and while it may be comparatively isolated in terms of its location – there is an admittedly galling lack of nearby cash machines, so do bring cash! – it also provides patrons with respite from the often claustrophobic nature of the town’s nightlife.

With Funk’d continuing to grow and experiment – the Boat Club is set to be taken over again on May 26th – the music lovers of Aberystwyth have been afforded the rare chance to immerse themselves in an endlessly ambitious event in its embryonic stages.

[Prose] An Act of Kindness

It was moments such as this that Rose found herself cursing her own habitual kindness. After all, who else could be to blame? Perhaps if she had complimented her flatmate’s new weave with just a little less enthusiasm, said flatmate wouldn’t have felt it necessary to bury her tear-streaked face in her lap in a possible bid to ensure the two could get further acquainted. She probably thinks most Irish people have never seen a weave before, Rose thought to herself. But to Sonny’s credit, anyone bearing witness to how Rose had bounded up and down the communal area of their flat upon spying her friend’s majestic mane would most likely have surmised the same thing.

And yet as Sonny continued to weep in violent convulsions, Rose reasoned that perhaps she was overthinking things. Maybe her friend was legitimately upset. It certainly wasn’t unheard of for Sonny to get a bit emotional after a few drinks. Indeed, by the time they found their Christmas holidays were approaching, it had been a task for anyone in Rose’s flat to recall a night out that didn’t end in an emotional breakdown for poor Sonny. But Rose had hoped this semester would be different. It was her first night back in Cardiff, and she had high hopes – although these were slowly being dowsed by the flash-flood of tears that lay before her. She hadn’t exactly enjoyed her time back in Ireland. As she began to tear up at the departure gate earlier that day, she hoped her father would interpret it as a sign of regret, that maybe Rose felt she had made a mistake in crossing the Irish sea. Not to the extent that she should be pained by this embryonic patriotism – Mr. O’Shea would never wish such turmoil upon his only daughter – but that maybe in four years time, with her degree wrapped up and thoughts of greener grass fading, she might come back home. She had never given him a particular reason to think this wouldn’t be the case, but the truth was she deplored her homeland. She walked the streets of Cork city like a tourist. When she caught up with her high school friends, it was as if they now spoke a different language. She should have been content knowing that those she cared about were perfectly happy to settle within a half a mile of where they all used to play hopscotch together. But throughout each coffee date, all Rose’s foggy mind could do was wonder how her friends could go each day without catching their reflection in the mirror and resenting both themselves and their brazen lack of ambition. While she walked through the airport’s duty free shops, Rose wiped one last tear from her eye, knowing this fit to be the closest she had ever come to vocalising these thoughts.

Rose decided to re-evaluate the situation. What she found curious was that Sonny’s episodes rarely struck during pre-drinks – she usually waited until they were on a dance floor entrenched with their sweaty, grinding peers to have her soul-crushing epiphanies – so why should tonight be any different? She felt it was worth investigating, so she patted Sonny on the head to get her attention. A few seconds had passed before Rose realised she hadn’t accounted for the newly applied blanket of Russian hair that was cushioning her impact. She tried again.

“Sonny? Babe…?” She attempted to sound as motherly as possible, putting her deep, syrupy timbre to good use. Sonny grunted drowsily. Rose propped her up next to her on the bed like a drunken ventriloquist doll. As she saw Sonny’s eyes wander from her own to the many French film posters that adorned her bedroom wall, she knew this interrogation could take a while. She caught Sonny by the shoulders and looked her straight in the eye.

“Sonny! Please. Tell me what’s wrong.” For a moment, Rose thought she had lost her for good. Her eye contact wavered. She winced her eyes shut and rested them on the heel of her palms. But this digression lasted only a moment. After a few seconds, Sonny had regained eye contact, and began to answer the question at hand.

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