Contrary to the image that I’d had in my head, Technopolis, the venue for Synch Festival, wasn’t the techno equivalent of the Acropolis. I wanted the building to be made of glowstick pillars with great philosophers debating the most important techno related questions of all time. But learning comes from experience.
Instead, located in an old gasworks, Synch boasts a small but perfectly aligned line-up of intelligent dance or indie music with a groove. It’s been running for around 7 years but perhaps hasn’t become as well known as, say, Sonar because – like the African Botticellian ladies in the publicity material – it’s happy with its shape and size.
On Friday night, we arrive at the venue after cadging a lift with Ebony Bones; the band are far from a chatty mood in the mini bus, so we don’t say a word. I check out Jazzanova then wander around the corner to see my ‘new mates.’ Despite their statuesque disposition in the mini bus, Ebony Bones came to life on stage. The two singers bouncing around in a flurry of rainbow colours accompanied by a backing band of Hoxtonites.
I queue up for beer tokens and spend the evening familiarizing myself with Mythos – a Hellenic beer brewed in the region. It was reasonably well priced at 3 Euros, although the size of said beverage magically depleted throughout the night – despite costing the same.
I rush back to the main stage to catch Florence And The Machine. Lead singer Florence Welch is enjoying herself – bashing drums and singing with bombast. Florence tells us this is the biggest crowd she’s ever played for and is so excited she climbs the stage rigging.
Florence finishes with a superb version of The Source’s You’ve Got The Love.
This marks the shift from indie into dance at Synch Festival and after watching Tortoise’s high velocity jazzy drum breaks we head over to Friendly Fires whose well honed set makes everyone boogie. Lead singer, Ed Macfarlane wiggles his hips in white jeans like a modern day Mick Jagger. Then entertainment goes indoors and the DJs come out to play.
Puppetmasterz are very silly, playing hip hop tracks behind a big curtain whilst paper mache Muppets sing and swear along.
They’re followed by the Fozzie Bear of Hot Chip: Joe Goddard who plays a hearty electro set.
Across the courtyard 3 Chairs: Theo Parrish, Marcellus Pittman and Rick Wilhite are having their own five hour block party with more than a few Detroit classics plus the odd dumb track thrown in to stop all the chin strokers taking it too seriously.
After spending a thoroughly pleasant Saturday on the ancient Acropolis, I head towards the Technopolis. Matthew Herbert puts us in the swing of things with his Big Band tunes sampled and looped back.
In one track he uses the tearing noise of The Daily Mail and for the finale of The Audience he records… the audience.
I leave the festival and head to a nearby café for some tasty Greek food; feta based dishes, calamari and half bottle of Ouzo later,
I’m in the VIP area drinking free booze before steaming backstage to see Squarepusher, who plays a storming set of speedy slap bass tracks alongside drummer Alex Thomas. Sometimes the man’s mind blowing rate can divide an audience but he wins them over tonight and the crowd want more. Frustratingly Squarepusher is made to finish on time despite the other bands overrunning by 20 minutes.
The beer kicks in and the night whizzes by in a blur I see A Mountain Of One, from a cast iron draw bridge, Biomass induces nodding stupor in the auditorium, I spend twenty minutes staring at an art installation on insect flight. The eighties boogie dancing fever kicks with Hudson Mohawke, plus some craziness from Shit Robot, with Fennesz and a final Belgian mash-up from Aeroplane.
I stumble back on the metro as the sun rises. As I watch Athens’ rosy fingered dawn stroke the streets from my hotel balcony, that nagging feeling of detachment begins to form. Another busload putters past on it’s way to the Acropolis again and I remember my experience at the top of the city in the baking heat the previous day. My thoughts move to the weekend’s activity: the mindblowing music I’ve seen and the friendly interesting people I’ve met. Synch doesn’t need a deep philosophy, the experience is truly tangible.