Live report: Taico Club12

Boredoms and Animal Collective get the festival season off to a spectacular start

Live report: Taico Club ’12

Photo gallery: Taico Club ’12

With both Fuji Rock and Summer Sonic content to peddle a diet of thin musical gruel this year, the best festival lineup of the summer came from an unexpected source. All-night dance party Taico Club has been a consistent source of delight since it started at a kid-friendly campsite in Nagano Prefecture in 2006, but it's hard to remember the bill ever being quite this good. Snagging the first gig in Animal Collective's 2012 tour diary was an obvious coup, but the choice of electronica acts was also hard to fault, with nods to both the current beatmaker scene (Machinedrum, Africa Hitech) as well as earlier figureheads (Mouse on Mars, Josh Wink).

Still, most conversations centered around the early-evening set by Boredoms. Even The Flaming Lips might marvel at the group's opening gambit, in which their six drummers were wheeled through the crowd on giant floats, creating a circle/mosh pit in front of the stage. They were joined by a dozen-odd guitarists, with leader Yamataka Eye – who broke his leg jumping off a speaker at the group's Tokyo gig last month – taking to the stage in a wheelchair and performing much of the show seated. Drawing on key tracks from Chocolate Synthesizer, Super AE and Vision Creation Newsun, it was equal parts Greatest Hits and Glenn Branca: proof that Boredoms don't always save their most impressive spectacles for their overseas gigs.

Animal Collective's show later in the night didn't get off to quite such a strong start – Josh 'Deakin' Dibb's opening song was probably the weakest of the whole set – but the group found their groove later on. On first listen, their new material suggested that forthcoming album Centipede Hz might have more in common with the ramshackle psychedelia of Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished as the techno-tinged Merriweather Post Pavilion. Yet the quartet also sounded far more energised performing songs from their biggest record ('Brother Sport', 'Summertime Clothes') than I remember them being at Fuji Rock a few years ago – and really, you've gotta love Avey Tare's impassioned vocal wig-outs.

Au courrant knob-twiddler Travis Stewart performed twice, first in his Sepalcure duo with Praveen Sharma, and then solo as Machinedrum. The latter was probably the more enjoyable of the two, and unquestionably the more exhausting: after an hour of breakneck footwork rhythms and exhumed rave, I was just about ready to collapse. But that would've meant missing Mouse on Mars, who turned out to be one of the highlights of the event. The group's shift from 'serious' electronica to more exuberant pop headfuckery may be lamented by purists, but it's made them a tremendously enjoyable live act – like a thinking man's alternative to the Ed Banger electro set.

Those in search of something more austere could get it from TR-101, whose live appearances are so infrequent that they're like the crested ibis of the minimal techno world. Never less than deadly serious, the duo of DJ Pete and Sleeparchive applied a formal precision that was markedly absent from fellow techno voyager Ricardo Villalobos' set the following morning. The Chilean DJ dandy approached the opening half-hour of his session with a touch that wasn't so much casual as downright haphazard, though he seemed to regain his focus as he went along, moving through dubby textures to a closing streak that managed to incorporate Prince, happy hardcore and Omar Souleyman. No, really.

Throw in an assured performance by Japanese electro rockers Sakanaction – who are clearly going to be one of the acts to watch at this year's Fuji Rock – and an early-morning bass onslaught by Africa Hitech, and it began to feel like Taico Club was setting the bar perilously high for the rest of the summer. Best musical festival of 2012? Don't count against it.

Photo gallery: Taico Club ’12
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By James Hadfield
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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