Earlier this month the Klaxons played their final UK show at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Arena. An emotional gig, it signaled the end to something greater than simply the Klaxon’s careers, it dawned in the finale of an eccentric musical movement that you couldn’t escape if you were a British teenager in the know in the mid to late 2000s. Indeed as the final notes were plucked, the final crescendoes of startling synths hammered out and the band left the stage, the mop haired poster boys laid to rest a musical scene they had largely been the brainchild of. This genre? Nu Rave. A genre spawned from the depths of Britain’s musical history and culture, it was a bright, unabashed mutation of British musical culture, and we loved it.
It was the bastion of a final spurt of creativity in British music, before British youth culture was financially suppressed by credit crunches and double dip recessions, it reached deep into its musical history to re-establish itself, find its identity and make its mark. Following a wave of indie guitar band success stories, we branched out, put down our dusty Libertines palace guard jackets and went off the musical deep end. We were reaching out for the day glow hoodies on sale at Topman and dreaming of having a house party as cool as the one on that week’s episode of Skins. It was a time of unabashed creativity, an era before the identikit wave of British indie folk and EDM that has filled our radios since. Bands such as Late of the Pier, Hadouken! and The Klaxons were pushing the boundaries of British music into a wholly futuristic soundscape.
A genre that largely rose to prominence with assistance from the British music press, the one thing that always stood out about Nu Rave was its inherently British sound and nature. It was quick to borrow and take influence from every corner of British music, from punk, to rave even grime; there was no escaping the inherent Britishness of it all. It was my generation’s dysfunctional, distorted, neon-tainted Britpop and we held it dear. Unfortunately it didn’t translate terribly well off our fair shores and as soon as the scene erupted and bands began to venture into those tricky sophomore albums, the very press that had built the scene up essentially lauded its demise.
For me I will always look back upon Nu Rave with a great deal of fondness. Our parents had punk, our grandparents Rock & Roll yet ultimately we lack that overarching all dominating, generational genre. But for a brief moment for a bored suburban British teenager like myself Nu Rave offered an insight into another musical galaxy, far away from the ring roads, mock exams and commuter belt towns that made up our lives. For that alone, the genre will always hold its appeal, even though its pioneers may be putting away the neon prints and calling it quits, it’s not over yet.
Words: Charlie Jaco