A few things about the Factory Floor show last night:
1. The name Factory Floor conjures up many connotations. The Factory part evokes Manchester’s Factory Records and the austere and eccentric sounds from so many releases on the that classic label. The name also makes me think of dilapidated rusting out buildings where formerly existed the engines of capitalism, or if you aren’t a pessimist maybe you think of present day hangars where jumbo jets are made, or air the tight pristine confines of computer chip factories. It all contributes to what this London based trio sound like.
2. Factory Floor are a band. You might not get that impression listening to their self-titled debut album from last year. Although two thirds of the band stood behind tables of electronics last night poking nobs like old Ma Bell connecting long distance phone calls you could tell by their eye contact that they were synced up.
3. Early on New Order drummer Stephen Gilbert remixed their track Wooden Box solidifying a connection with Factory Records. I remember seeing New Order in the late 80’s a couple times and Gilbert would alternate between playing drums for a song or two and punching some buttons and grabbing a glass of water and walking off to the side of the stage for a for a break while the rest of the band played. The songs when he actually played drums where always the better ones and Factory Floor seem to understand that a live drummer makes for a better song as well. Set up on one side of the stage the drummer was the catalyst of the set and made the songs crackle and with extreme punctuation.
3. Singer, guitarist and button pusher Nik Colk played her guitar with a bow like some prog rocker. When she sang what came out was undecipherable, like a robot version of Nico singing in binary.
4. Factory Floor make dance music for people who don’t normally dance. Maybe because they are heavily influenced by bleak post punk, they draw more of a rocker crowd. At least, last night the room appeared to be filled with more rockers than dancers, but the hypnotic bouncy grooves that they laid down had most everyone at the very least with their bobbing their heads. A few times I felt my body unconsciously start moving and I looked down and I was dancing. How did they do that?
5. Most of my past experiences seeing electronic groups live have been underwhelming because frankly watching someone turn nobs and stare intently at their laptop is hard to get excited about. Factory Floor, by incorporating live drums and guitar with their nob turning and a minimal amount of laptop gazing made their live show something not to be missed. The songs extended beyond their recorded versions into expeditions into the unknown and the band pulled off a rare feat for an electronic group, they are better live than on record.