Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fairground Music

No festival seems to be complete without a fairground and in the past week I've been to a couple in London. On Sunday I went to the Lambeth Country Show in Brockwell Park, enjoying the Brixton sun, cider, and Sean Rowley broadcasting his Guilty Pleasures kitschfest show with the help of the Bikini Beach Band (who play surf versions of chart hits - this time including Amy Winehouse's Rehab and 'I bet that you look good on the dancefloor'). The weekend before was The Rise festival in Finsbury Park ('London United Against Racism'), where we saw Saint Etienne before it poured with rain - I blame the band for playing their song 'Lightning Strikes Twice'.

In both parks there were big fun fairs, and as I was spinning upside down at high speed listening to Bob Sinclair's Feel the Love Generation at high volume I pondered the nature of fairground music to distract myself from feeling sick. In both fairs there was a preponderance of chart house, pumping four to the floor beats and melodies simple enough to pick out above the sound of screams and machines. Mid-1990s floor fillers seemed popular - I heard Heller and Farley's Ultra Flava and I Love You Baby in Brockwell Park. Even more anachronistically, The Drifters were being played on one ride. The sound of the old Fair Organ were nowhere to be heard, though you do still come across them occasionally at retro Steam Fairs. I wonder how fair music gets selected - is it just a matter of one of the operators having a Best of Ibiza '95 cd to hand or is there more sophisticated programming at work? Does the music get changed according to the audience (e.g. at an indie or rock festival would the soundtrack change)?. Does music sound different upside down? Further centrifugal investigations are required.

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