“Everyone loves things more when they're gone”: Dance music after Pendulum

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In early 2011, one of dance music’s iconic live acts, Faithless, bowed out of the game. While the announcement wasn’t exactly a surprise – Maxi Jazz told inthemix back in 2004 that they were considering calling it a day – it was a significant ‘changing of the guard’ moment. The band even called its farewell DVD, filmed at their last-ever live show in London, Passing The Baton. After the news broke, inthemix wrote a feature speculating on what the end of Faithless meant for the wider scene. Maxi Jazz, Sister Bliss, Rollo and co. belonged to an elite group of live acts who have long ruled dance festival line-ups. It’s a club that arguably includes Daft Punk, the Chemical Brothers, Underworld, Groove Armada and Basement Jaxx (of course there are outliers like Kraftwerk, but seminal doesn’t always equal sure-bet headliner).

Since we published that feature, those veteran acts have enjoyed mixed fortunes. While Basement Jaxx could once comfortably pack out the Boiler Room at Big Day Out with its exuberant live show, these days the duo’s focus has shifted largely to DJing. The same goes for Groove Armada, who moved away from the live show in 2010. In the past 12 months, Daft Punk’s made a Tron soundtrack but given no hope for a tour. Underworld has exhibited a superhuman ability to forge on: the core team of Karl Hyde and Rick Smith still together after 30 years and eight albums. Despite prestigious assignments like composing the music for the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony, they’re unlikely to lead a line-up. (At the vast Ultra Music Festival in Miami last year, the group ‘warmed up’ for Deadmau5’s closing set.)

Of that hallowed club, perhaps The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy have proven most resilient. The Chems continue to reinvent their live show, while The Prodigy still possesses raw power onstage despite making its best music in the ‘90s. As the upcoming Warrior’s Dance Festival in Serbia this September is sure to prove, The Prodigy will long be heroes of Eastern Europe.

In the comments for that feature, a few ITMers name-checked Pendulum as a possible successor to the likes of Faithless. “They sold out the Hordern [in Sydney] last time they were here,” wrote robbz_69. “Pretty sure they’re the closest we have to a crossover dance act that could very well come close to headlining in a couple of years.” It was a sagely prediction. At the end of 2011, Pendulum headlined the Summadayze and Summafieldayze festivals here (a spot, incidentally, that Underworld filled a couple of years before). The decision to accelerate them to the top of the Summa bill came after Future Entertainment saw the raucous response to their sets at Future Music Festival earlier that year, when the band arguably upstaged mainstage drawcard the Chemical Brothers. “Pendulum were like the unannounced headliners,” agreed Future director Brett Robinson to inthemix.

Ahead of Summadayze, we got on the phone to Pendulum’s Gareth McGrillen and asked what he thought about the band’s graduation to headliner. “It’s a big responsibility but I think it’s one that suits as well,” he said, matter-as-fact as ever. “We’ve never lacked self belief; if we did then we never would’ve got out of Perth.” It was in that same interview, though, that McGrillen revealed the guys were looking at a break after the festival run. “We’re not splitting up or anything like that,” he said. “We’re literally just trying to force everyone to take a holiday from Pendulum so we can get re-inspired again.”

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AFROwookie said on the 22nd Jun, 2012

the last sentence made me so happy %u201CWe%u2019re literally just trying to force everyone to take a holiday from Pendulum so we can get re-inspired again.%u201D
Pendulum 2014 <3


JackT said on the 22nd Jun, 2012

Hey AFROwookie, that's just page 1 of the article!


van_tango said on the 22nd Jun, 2012

Groove Armada does a pretty good live show, and I hear they are fairly popular also.


spotdotspot said on the 22nd Jun, 2012

Prodigys best music was in the 90s? Bit harsh, their recent stuff is still on high rotation in my house


AFROwookie said on the 22nd Jun, 2012

they will come back in 2014


mixtape3 said on the 22nd Jun, 2012

Yeh I reckon Groove Armada while still in band layout (that just made a comeback for Lovebox) was the last "dance-band" worth the ticket price. sad :(


JackT said on the 22nd Jun, 2012

Hey van_tango, GA gave up the live show in 2010. They did however announce a single comeback show for Lovebox.


jamwildway said on the 22nd Jun, 2012

The Presets will be huge if their new album is good. The Potbelleez also have an amazing live show. What about New Order???


ethan_halls said on the 22nd Jun, 2012

did that guy seriously mention potbelleez and new order in the same comment. What da fark?


lawlietskyy said on the 24th Jun, 2012

jamwildway - potbelleez ... are you an idiot?