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Click Festival – No breaks allowed (a live report)

Click Festival 2018, 19.5 @ Kulturværftet, Helsingør. Reportage by Ivna Franic. Photos by Cameron Pagett.

Upon arrival to Helsingør, little gives away that there is a cutting edge music and art festival going on in the city that weekend. On a warm Saturday afternoon the city feels more like a mecca for pensioners, tourist groups on their day trips and Swedes coming over to buy somewhat cheaper alcohol. Once you reach Kulturhavn Kronborg, things start to look a bit different albeit still quite tame. The crowd is slowly gathering for Click − a contemporary art, science and technology festival.

Click Festival has had a solid run of strong music lineups throughout the years and its 8th edition is no exception, with the likes of Moor Mother, Amnesia Scanner and Lotic leading the bill, alongside an extensive talk-programme with Black Quantum Futurism and Laboria Cuboniks. On one hand, the decision to cram all the music performances into a single day makes perfect sense as it makes it easy for Copenhagen folks to hop on a train for a day trip, thus probably guaranteeing a better attendance than if the shows were stretched over several days. On the other hand, however, this choice ultimately makes the seemingly concise lineup feel too tight for its relatively short time frame and a single venue.

Judging by what we’ve had the opportunity to hear at Click, Lotic’s new album is going to be sickening.

After the evening concert programme had been kicked off by Denmark’s Khalil (H2OP) and Soho Rezanejad, it was time for Lotic to take over. With a recently announced debut album on the way and a string of outstanding EPs under their belt, the Berlin-based producer easily ranked as one of the most exciting names playing this year’s Click Festival.

Indeed: when Lotic walked onto stage wearing a tight purple thights plus crop-top combo and a long blonde wig, I’ve done flood my basement! Although it seemed like the performance might have worked better in a later time slot, their run through the material from the upcoming album as well as the cuts from previous releases such as Heterocetera made for a show that was as impressive as it was fun. At one point, Lotic elegantly signalled to the audience to clear the way for an impromptu runway, walked into the audience and hopped back onstage just in time to start singing. (And there seemes to be quite a lot of singing in new songs compared to their instrumental previous output.) Judging by what we’ve had the opportunity to hear at Click, Lotic’s new album is going to be sickening.

While performing along with Rabit in front of a huge screen Cecilia also stepped down from the stage several times, maintaining close contact with the audience. SØS Gunver Ryberg delivered a forceful set halfway between an experimental electronic performance and a straight up techno party. The only strange thing about it was that it took place hours before the end of the event, with many not-exactly-party acts yet to follow. For start, the one and only Moor Mother, whose expectedly brutal show inevitably totally changed the vibe Ryberg worked on building throughout her set. Due to unusual lineup sequencing, similar could be said for almost every show that evening. But there was also an interesting side effect to that flow disruption: an opportunity to see certain acts in a different light. Coming on after Moor Mother’s politically charged and highly immediate performance, Amnesia Scanner seemed like but a shiny festival attraction for the underground folk. Orange-lit large screen, flashing visuals, strobes and blasting super loud sounds definitely do make for a thrilling experience, but having seen AS live a couple of times now, I can’t help but wonder if those could also be cheap thrills.

Chino Amobi’s agenda is decidedly less vague as he − much like on his outstanding 2017 album Paradiso − convincingly depicts the chaos and the violence of the world we live in. Setting up on the smaller of the two stages in HAL 14, Amobi takes the closer contact with the audience to his advantage immediately establishing a connection that would remain tight until the end of his set. The high-energy mash of r’n’b classics, siren and gunshot sounds has everyone headbanging from the get go, as Amobi’s at times cacophonous clash of different sounds and references demands − and receives − full attention in a show that was a definite highlight of the festival. Violence is a worthy successor to Amobi on the small stage, delivering a physically intense performance as well as a rarely coherent vision of what a combination of death metal growling and rapping should sound like.

With plenty of powerful performances, most of them calling for way longer than the provided 10-minute break between each set for all the impressions to sink in, this year’s Click Festival proved to be quite a challenge, even for a less ambitious of a festival-goer. Seeing as a good deal of artists on the lineup already have reputation of amazing live acts and/or recent festival regulars, one could say that Click played it safe in a way. Even if there could have been a bit more room for surprise highlights and unexpected discoveries, it was a positively exhausting day packed with performances by some of experimental music’s finest acts at the moment.

Info: Revisit the full line-up here:

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