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Live Review: Red Bull Music Academy presents 12x12

Following our recent competition BlackPlastic figured we better taste the pudding with Red Bull's 12x12 event at the Scala.

Be under no illusion - this was a made for TV production with a line up designed to present the maximum number of photo opportunities. Not that the line up wasn’t worthy or even good, but the whole concept, designed to celebrate London’s dance culture, in many ways missed the point. 12 DJs and producers each playing their biggest hit for 12 minutes with more photographers in attendance than punters makes for a strange vibe and ironically, something unlike any London club night over the last 20 years of nights that we were there to celebrate.

Forgive us for being churlish, we’re sure it looked great in the trade press and the event’s corporate veneer did mean we had unprecedented access to the stars. It also made for some compulsively bizarre viewing, MJ Cole gurning his way through an MP3 of 'Sincere' stands out - twelve minutes just about saved by the bizarreness and Cole having Nero's rather more contemporary dubstep remix of the track to fall back on.

Arthur Baker was a ubiquitous presence throughout the Scala for personal photo-ops but when he played Planet Rock you remembered why this clash of German electro and funk was so epoch-making. Martyn Ware predictably played 'Temptation', unpredictably, he played a version with a 90s Euro-dance beat and sang over the top. Just as the embarrassment got too much, like your dad doing karaoke, he saved it by playing his stylish, 80s ballad 'Let Me Go', and that shows what a good song 'Let Me Go' is.

Despite all the pretence, it was the drum and bass DJs who stole the show for the crowd by playing jump-up greatest hits sets with the night’s genuine highlight coming when Ms Dynamite joined Zinc on stage for a rip-snorting p.a. of 'Wile Out'.

We suppose 12x12 proved that the most important element of any night is something that all the DJs and crates of Red Bull in the world can’t make up for, something that Russ Abbott presciently referred to as ‘atmosphere.’

BP x

Video: Red Bull Music Academy Lecture - Trevor Jackson

BlackPlastic has to admit it knew nothing about this but as part of their annual Music Academy, Red Bull have been running a series of lectures and music events across London and whilst this is the last week BlackPlastic didn't want to let the events pass without comment.
The video above is Playgroup Tactics, one of lectures, and this one featured one of BlackPlastic's long saluted stars Trevor Jackson, the man behind Playgroup and the Output label - check it out to get his insights into graphic design and the (frankly hugely under-rated and important) Playgroup record.
If you are an artist or fancy getting into the industry there are a stack of interesting videos on the site from the likes of Kieran Hebden (of Four Tet fame) and Philippe Zdar (of Cassius). Check them out on the Red Bull Music Academy Website.
There are still a few more live events happening this week including 12x12 (12 artists, including New Order's Peter Hook and X-Press 2, each playing for 12 minutes) and the Closing Bash featuring 2ManyDJs and DJ sets from Friendly Fires and The XX.  More on the site.
To be honest one of the best things about all of this is the rather excellent collection of radio shows that Red Bull have put together. There are far, far too many to mention over on the site (which is actually an offshoot of the main site here) but you may want to start with this one from James Murphy and Pat Mahoney of DFA / LCD Soundsystem.

Enjoy - BP x.