A Short Series About Shapes – #2 – Square

Mekrev Bass – Squarepusher (2020, Warp Records, Taken from ‘Be Up A Hello’)

At roughly 5pm on August 20th 2022, I had a mild middle aged episode.   Thankfully I don’t think anyone noticed.  It happened inside a huge tent in East London and I was surrounded by about 5000 people.  There I was happily swaying in the throng to the excellent freestyle jazz techno that was frankly mutilating my ears courtesy of Squarepusher, I had a pint of beer in one hand (beer incidentally made from leftover bread), a free baseball cap from the lovely people at Firestone plonked awkwardly on my head and I was perfectly happy.  

The Coathanger – Squarepusher (2008, Warp Records, Taken from ‘Just A Souvenir’)

Then it happened, the music got a bit intense (well ok it got very intense), the beat got faster, the noise more pulsating, the strobe got quicker and pretty relentless, and it was no longer comfortable.  My ears had given up listening and were now going in to shut down mode.  They were just trying to stay functioning, my legs had stopped tapping the ground in time to the music because, well they can’t tap that fast.  The show was fast becoming the music equivalent of standing next to a jet engine whilst someone revved the throttle to an annoying level.  I looked around, crowds of young and beautiful people were having fun and I suddenly felt very old.  It might have been the way the lights were flashing or the way that one of the keyboards had been constantly beeping or the way that Squarepusher’s drum machine sounded like not only was it broken but someone was hammering it with a spanner whilst in was still switched on and turned up to full volume so that it clanged and clunked like an exhaust hanging off an old Cortina. 

Right then three things dawned on me – firstly I am way too old for raves (incidentally Tom Jenkinson, who is Squarepusher, is five months older than me),  secondly even if I was younger than I am, mid afternoon inside a massive tent on one of the hottest Saturdays in decades is no place to watch Squarepusher literally break the capabilities of a drum machine on stage (that would be 2am inside a club that has been set up in an old warehouse) – and thirdly, I am really hungry and that Indonesian Curry Shack around the corner looks really inviting all of a sudden. 

There is a tap on my shoulder, my mate who is standing next me – a mate who just for the record is much younger than me – shows me his phone – he has typed a message because it is way too loud to even consider speaking “This is too much, shall we go and get a pint”.  I manage a nod, relieved that I wasn’t the only one that was thinking this.

Although for entirely different reasons, Squarepusher, join an elite club of acts whose gigs I have left early.  The others were all because the bands were dogshite.  At the Reading Festival in 1996, I left the Stone Roses headline show four songs in.  Aziz Ibrahim’s request that we all “Put Our Hands In the Air” being the last straw of what was an awful spectacle of terribleness.   A few months earlier, I walked out of a gig by the cod reggae act Emperor Sly at the Students Union in Surrey University.  I lasted two songs, and despite being told to attend and review said gig it was awful beyond comparison and my (unpublished) review just read “I walked out after two songs because it was shite”.

The last gig I walked out of was in 2014 at the Plymouth Pavilions, the band were Palma Violets and they were supporting The Vaccines.  I walked out when they unveiled their Christmas single, which not only ruined Christmas for me a full ten days before Christmas actually begun, but several future Christmases as well.  I retreated to the bar and sat in a comfy bucket seat drinking watered down Pepsi and read an interview with Peter Andre in a free magazine, which despite being blander than a shopping spree in Debenhams was still more entertaining than the Christmas single by the Palma Violets.

Here are two songs which have the word ‘Square’ in the title.

Square 1 – Lxury featuring Deptford Goth (2015, Greco-Roman Records, Taken from ‘Into the Everywhere’)

And a track that segues us nicely into next week’s (probably final) instalment of this short series,

Circlesquare – The Wonderstuff (1989, Far Out Recordings, Taken from ‘Hup 21st Anniversary Edition’).



  1. therobster71 says:

    “freestyle jazz techno”
    I’m having a middle-aged moment myself just by seeing those three words together. *shudder*
    I need a lie down…


  2. Rol says:

    I thought you were going to have “a fall” for a second there.

    No rhombus songs?


  3. JC says:

    Wait till you hit my age…….i’m increasingly self-conscious at most gigs attended by mainly young folk these days. Oh, and my legs can’t take standing all the way through the support acts and main band.


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