“Violence, drugs and profanity are common themes in gabber, perceptible through its samples and lyrics, often screamed, pitch shifted or distorted.”
In imagining a projected future I am keen to explore all elements of its culture and in particular its soundtrack. In adding weight to my peculiar prophecy of the future I have again been looking to the past. In a post apocalyptic world where just staying alive is the rule of the day I believe things like polished vocals, sweet melodies and heartfelt ballads will become futile to the disillusioned instigators of the future youth culture. I imagine euphorically, non violent aggression will be the prevalent way of enjoying yourself – enter Gabber music from the early 1990s.
Gabber in its original sense was the end product of Chicago house’s journey into Europe via Amsterdam and then finally arriving in Rotterdam where it became a much harsher, working class reaction to what House music had become in the early 1990s. It was tremendously bass heavy, super quick, ‘dance’ music that was in fact almost impossible to move to for more than a couple of minutes at a time. As a result ridiculous new styles of dance where invented (this example video was a hit online for a while). By 1996 Gabber had become big business in Holland crescendoing in 20,000 ravers partying (hard) at the aptly named (after the Mad Max film, im guessing) Thunderdome.
In watching the linked footage I was struck by the underlying aggression to the event, the atmosphere was reminiscent of the kinds of hardcore punk and metal gigs I would attend as a teen. As in some trends within the London Punk scene there are regular, overt and quite uncomfortable displays of topless masculinity. Gabber rebelled in it’s macho approach to dance music – house was founded on ideas of artistic expression and inclusion of the outsiders of society where as Gabber appeared to be for the everyday teen. Again there are similarities within niche sections of hardcore punk where the ‘tough guy’ approach is more favoured than Punk’s art school beginnings.
Surprisingly the clothes the DJs and punters are in at Thunderdome all look extremely ‘2018’. The current trend of printed long sleeve t shirts, print heavy sports wear and bomber jackets are all over this video (even the QPR shirt 10 year old me had). It feels exactly like the kind of well executed throwback advertising cult skateboard clothing label Palace have become famous for. Interestingly there is a blink and you miss it moment where a drug-filled female raver crosses the path of the camera wearing a ‘Rotterdam Gabber’ T-shirt which uses the same goblin I painted from the Kreator graphic earlier on the course. This highlights the influence heavy metal has on Gabber – many of the vocals are screamed and at one point a long haired guy even starts playing riffs on an ESP, a guitar made famous by heavy metal musicians. Also the action horror movie influence on the artwork of the flyers and cd covers is undeniably similar to the stereotypical visual language of Heavy Metal. So much so a group of shit clowns are clambering around the stage at one point acting like that most awful yet very popular ‘nu-metal’ (the worst kind of metal) band Slipknot.
I see resurgence in music and particularly in sub culture as a never ending cycle and I definitely see it as part of the future I’m trying to create. I believe the kinds of lowbrow musical aggression evident within Gabba (and elements of the London hardcore punk movements) reflect the harshness I predict for the subsequent doom of the youth of tomorrow. However I believe the music within both scenes are so generic that its perhaps everything but the music that keeps fans keen. The feeling of belonging provided by these parties is a great remedy for the universal hopelessness felt by young adults beginning to realise they cant trust the people in charge. Although I’d like to imagine bands playing deep into the next thousand years its obvious the mechanics of live music couldn’t survive past an apocalypse. Its far more likely the kind of make shift, hybrid technology made from the leftovers of war I have predicted for use in general computing will cross over into musical use.
In conclusion, and perhaps rather unfortunately, I believe the music being played to kids in raves of my future will be an updated version of Gabber loaded with a fresh lowbrow rebellion and even stronger sense of disillusionment.
Its going to be absolutely horrible.