Geller – The real heir to Marc Andrews?
I think it must have been the simple caption ‘bring back the good old days!’ on Steve Geller’s latest club outing advert alongside a photo of a piece of vinyl, (yes, remember when dj’s used to play with turntables?) that finally moved me to get off my backside last Saturday night, shake the dust off my disco booties and check out new night ‘FEVER’ in one of Vauxhall’s more friendlier venues ‘Barcode’.
For some years I have enjoyed listening to Geller’s podcasts (or ‘Gellercasts’) since his opening ‘cast’ back in April 2010 (‘Music to fuck to’, if you please…) after I overheard my hardened Vauxhall diet’s flatmate Riccardo listening to it and asked him what it was. Since then I realised that (as a retired clubber and DJ) I could stay in touch with what was happening musically on the scene (not to mention saving myself a small fortune over the years by spending £15 per month on Club Beats) by listening to something far more interesting by downloading a ‘cast’ from i tunes. Now I know most of you probably will find this hard to believe but those who know what a staunch traditionalist I am when it comes to music and technology won’t be the slightest bit surprised when I say that Riccardo had to actually show me how to firstly download i tunes, then these ‘casts’ and then burn them onto CD. The net result has been great, for the last 4 years I’ve been able to ‘pump up the volume’ of these CD’s for my 4 times weekly outdoor body workouts (which is what I used to use Club Beats for). The one big surprise for me was that all these podcasts were apparently free? No wonder poor old Trax records had to close its doors for the last time in April 2008 as I would have willingly paid £15 there for such a mixed CD in the same way that I did for Andrews’ sets.
I am extremely prickly about today’s music and those that chose to play it, most of it is dreadful and whilst that makes me sound like an old moaning git (which is definitely true) is it does highlight that anyone left in that industry that I feel compelled to write about must be pretty damn good in my opinion. I suppose what drew my early interest towards Geller’s casts were not only his choice of music, unarguably the most important characteristic of any DJ, but the extraordinarily uniquely creative way in which he mixed his tunes which I have not heard since the glory days of Andrews at the Fridge in the mid 90’s or Pete Wardman fighting, yes fighting to keep a mix lasting several minutes in TRADE (really showing my age now). This is not to say that Geller has copied Andrews in any shape or form (it amused me when chatting to him after his set on Saturday that he’d never really heard of Andrews let alone ‘heard’ him), unlike a few current and retired jocks. I am trying to articulate that there is something extraordinary about this guy’s style in an age of ‘ordinary’ DJ’s in that his unique technical genius simply shines out in the same way that Andrews did.
At this point I must add that Andrew’s music policy was NOT always cheesy, and those who think it was always characterised by camp disco sounds are totally wrong. Andrews’s choice of tunes as well his style of mixing on occasion was FIERCE.
This is what drew me towards Geller. Anyone who can seamlessly play 4 records at the same time, slip in the originals of Nirvana’s ‘Smells like teen spirit’, AC/DC’s ‘Highway to hell’ or the Stone’s ‘Satisfaction’ into the middle of a house set whilst sampling 2 Unlimited’s ‘Get ready for this’ and get away with it definitely gets a big thumbs up from me and puts a big smile on my face. Like Andrews, Geller dares to take huge risks on the mixing desk in front of a live audience and will really let himself go in terms of clashing keys/vocal on vocal/ bending rythms and knocking out the pitch control at the most insane moments in order to get those fantastic inspirations quickly out of his head and does not adopt a ‘safety first’ policy. (Whenever I tried it failed horribly and sounded more like a train coming off the rails at Charing Cross railway station). Interestingly enough, most straight laced people who have never even heard of what of Vauxhall enjoy these casts and the most recent example I can give was when I slipped one of them on at a friend’s wedding reception.
Now obviously it’s one thing to hear something, no matter how good, in the comfort of your own home or by the pool in Portugal but quite another to hear it played live and whilst you’ll probably only catch me out clubbing at a Trade birthday party now days I have for some time wanted to hear Geller but sadly from what I could make out he only seems to play out at the most inconvenient times (for me anyway) such as 2am on a Tuesday morning so when I saw that he was for once playing at a time that for once suited me (i.e. not too late on a Saturday) I thought, why not.
It was great fun to hear this guy give it some welly and everyone I saw dancing in ‘FEVER’ had a big cheeky smile on their face. An added bonus was there were loads of hot sweaty fit lads around with their tops off in the club, helping to create a sexy vibrant atmosphere (something else Andrews’ nights used to magnetise) and when you talked to people you didn’t know they actually engaged in conversation rather than ‘grunt’ back at you in a foreign tongue.
What is also extremely interesting is that he has clearly long survived the fallout of with the big O, now this does go to show there must be something remarkable about his talent as many very excellent DJ’s before now have tried to put their name above the brand that made them famous and fallen in the most spectacular way.
Sadly, gone are the days of ‘big room dance floors’ such as the Fridge so the likes of Geller must be confined to smaller venues which is disappointing as I would have loved to hear this guy play out in a big disused theatre one day rather than a disused railway arch. I recall Andrews giving an interview with the now obsolete THUD magazine and when asked the question ‘What do you enjoy most about djing at the Fridge?’ he commented that from his vantage point in the DJ booth where he could see 2,000 clubbers, when he dropped in a mix and watch the euphoria break out it, the high he would get would be the same as a world class surfer was like riding a gigantic wave.
Maybe someone with enough guts, money and imagination could re-launch LOVE MUSCLE XX at the ‘Electric Brixton’ one day, make this young chap the headline jock and give us all a reason to want to go out and party again?
In waiting for that day I will almost certainly be at the very least a semi regular at FEVER, given it’s not weekly but every 3 weeks does make it more of an event and look forward to the next one with great enthusiasm.
See you on the dance floor