No one really believed the world was going to end December 21, right? With the date conveniently falling on a Friday, savvy promoters worldwide were translating doomsday hype into a reason to party one last time. For the hardcore scene in particular, if there was ever a moment to wield the apocalypse theme to full effect, December 21, the date that the Mayans (by some accounts) pegged as precise date of the end of the world, was it. Smouldering at the top of the faux-nihilistic pile was the Ad Noiseam showdown at Berghain. With a lineup teeming with Berlin premieres and live sets from a cross-section of new signings and long-time contributors, this was going to be one hell of a show, whether we died or not.
Of the six acts billed, five had released full-lengths in the last year, with Ad Noiseam mainstay Igorr using the night to launch his second album for the label, Hallelujah. As such we were treated to plenty of fresh material that coursed noisily through the stable's full sonic range, from the droney, decaying textures of Latvian artist Oyaarss to the blistering drum & bass of hardcore veteran DJ Hidden (his partner, Eye-D, was apparently booked elsewhere). In the midst of all this, Underhill, the alleged "super band"—this time with just Dean Rodell on laptop together with singer Martina Astner (both from various metal bands)—cooed a thickening crowd into the evening's breakcore-flavoured main course.
I'm not going to lie: I came here for one act only, and it's safe to say he did not disappoint. Part of a new generation of breakcore producers, Ruby My Dear (together with Igorr) have proven there's life in the old dog yet, using the freedom of an essentially limitless genre to create, well, whatever they like. While Igorr has opted for metal, baroque, folk and funny noises (such as vacuum cleaners, sheep and chickens), Ruby My Dear's fusions have threaded opera and jazz together with broken beat, gabber, dubstep and reggae—often in a single track. They've pushed breakcore into a more thoughtful and musical direction without losing its ultimate sense of fun, dished out tonight by the bucket load. That's the thing about breakcore: you can't take it too seriously. You've just got to dive in, uninhibited, with the rest of the moshers. And believe me, you'll come out feeling better for it. .
As it turns out, the only casualties of this Apocalypse were those of Berghain's infamous door policy, and with so many travelling from all over Europe to attend perhaps the choice of venue was the event's biggest downfall. But challenging the norm is what Ad Noiseam is all about, from its discursive range of acts to the label's resistance to standard parameters of clubs and electronic music. Berghain was a risk that needed to be made if the hardcore scene it's spent over ten years charting is to be brought out of the shadows—a risk that most certainly paid off, this time.