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Melody Maker (UK); May 28 1994
Techno Prisoners
by Sarah Champion
(page 26)


Furthur...Hixton, Wisconsin

We're in a field surrounded by bare, spindly white trees. The cold air, little above freezing, is thick with campfire smoke. A green laser cuts hazy patterns in the night sky, causing drunken farmers driving home in their pick-ups to file UFO reports. This is hillbilly country - lumber mills, quaint wooden houses, fishing, farms and motels and miles and miles or freeway. Yes, rave culture has finally hit Hicksville, or rather Hixton, a Mid-West town- population 403 - where life, like the population stays static.

"Furthur" is the first event of its kind in the USA, a three-day outdoor rave. We pick up a posse of international DJs from Chicago's airport and drive for five hours through snow storms to arrive at a site of beautiful chaos. It's like summer camp with Terence McKenna in charge. The array of beat-up Pontiacs, Dodge pick-ups, old school buses and Chevrolet van, interspersed with tents, camp fires and 2000 kids (many of whom have driven for 15 hours) or pure MDMA. there's a minibus of born-again Christians from Nebraska with a teepee and another encampment wearing native American head dresses and dancing around a totem pole. Two goofy Dead heads stumble up to us and insist we must all wear a sticker. It reads "Double Cheeseburger"...

Just as acid house began in Manchester and London, but gradually spread to every town in the UK, America's rave culture, established in LA, San Francisco, New York and Miami in the early Nineties, is now infiltrating the very heart of the country. The house music that was invented in Chicago's black gay clubs has finally been sold back to white college kids. "Furthur", a collaboration between Milwaukee techno label Drop Bass Network, Minneapolis promoters MORE and Chicago magazine Reactor, draws ravers from across American, aided by rave bulletin boards on the Internet.

Aphex Twin

This is back to basics. The music is shit hot - Hardkiss, Frankie Bones & Adam X, Aphex Twin, Kosmic Komando - yet we're dancing on mud in marquees that look like they were last used for a boy scout jamboree. The decks are on trestles, the tents are in darkness. the only lighting is provided by neon necklaces and light sticks. yet the primitive nature of Furthur is inspirational - flashy gimmicks are replaced by genuine enthusiasm.

It's like 1988. Everywhere I turn there are grinning faces who want to say how this event it going to change their lives. A legion of dippy, Dead head college kids is turning to hardcore and techno. Instead of head banging, they press their bodies against the speakers all night in self-destructive hedonism. The Orbital/ Moby/ Aphex Twin's "See The Light" tour also turned many heads. DJ Richard James was flown in for Furthur and throughout his set kids push right up to the decks like they're in the front row of a gig.

This rave was a symbolic event, intended to go "Furthur" than ever before. It does. The promoter strips naked and dances on the speakers like Mr Bean on acid. As dawn breaks we see him (now clothed) getting out of a sheriff's car in a state of shock. "I've just been for a ride with my friends..." he murmurs, before pulling the plug on the sound system. We retire to a van and a hash pipe is passed around. Suddenly the door is wrenched open, badges flash, someone barks, "You're under arrest!" and I find myself cuffed and heading for Jackson County Jail. Now that's what I call a party...

 

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