Rave music in the mid-nineties always seemed otherworldly to me and its connoisseurs were as alien as the sounds. Tropical hot Summers with swarms of lads buzzing and cycling through the area with haircuts like sweaty spider legs crushed under the weight of a baseball cap. Postman Pat sweets, Tangle Twisters and a can of Lilt for 36p. Booted out of the house to play on the road but instead melting the black tarmac lines with a magnifying glass while a half-licked ice cream dripped down my legs. I’d stare for hours aimlessly at galaxies forming in oil stains left behind from Honda Civics roaring by with uns uns uns blaring, where the low rumble of the battered engines would blend seamlessly with the 404 beats. There wasn’t a whole lot to do as a kid and these were your options if you weren’t trying to terrorise the neighbours or kick the head off someone for wearing runners from Dunnes Stores. I passed the time by listening to music on my doorstep and I had a mixtape of songs recorded off the radio called Rave ‘94 that I innocently drew a little smiley face on with round eyes and a big long nose. I used to see it graffitied down lanes but it was just a willy that my little child brain couldn’t grasp the reality of.
I grew up on the edge of that entire culture. Never fully immersing myself in it. On the outside looking in but never truly wanting to associate with it despite being intrigued. Like picking up a gym membership form but never actually filling it out and shoving it in the drawer along with multiple takeaway menus. My music tastes growing up flickered up and down like an oscilloscope of peer pressure, mostly settling on indie and alternative but dance music always was laced into the fabric of my being. It was the soundtrack to so many milestones so I guess that’s why my curiosity led me to venture out to this gig in the 3arena, with one of my oldest friends in tow. The last time I was at this location for anything on this scale was Godskitchen in The Point in 2003 where I caught my then-boyfriend chewing the jaw off himself on yokes and trying to hide his face with a free skeleton mask he got when we saw at The Frames in Dublin Castle. Talk about two worlds colliding.
The ageless bleach blonde H.P. Baxxter remains the one constant in the group and who most people probably just refer to as “Scooter” himself including half the venue in attendance (I’m willing to put a bet on that). He takes to the stage while an elaborate intro takes place with “God Save The Rave” flashing on the massive screen behind him, featuring a giant God-like embossed effigy of him. It’s what I’d imagine The Wicker Man would look like if it took place in Darndale. They race furiously through their hits faster than 190 bpm, with their dancers impressively back flipping and splitzing about the stage while plumes of pyro erupted. Baxxter fully threw himself into showmanship with sparks flying from an electric guitar during “Fire!” and joining the dancers for a synchronised jig during ‘Jumping All Over The World’. ‘Fuck 2020’ seems quaint in a room with thousands of tradesmen with their tops off and swinging them over their heads. Sure if we don’t all get COVID then we’ll go home with permanent ear damage from the sheer volume of the gig. I can only hope their next anthem will be called ‘Fuck Tinnitus’ as I’ve never heard anything as loud and I’ve seen Sunn O))) and Mogwai live multiple times.
When the intro for ’The Logical Song’ drops with its Supertramp chipmunk sample the entire venue kicks off like every Debs and Exam Results Night across the country combined. The rafters were shaking with the force of the bass mixed in with people bounding out of their seats. It felt like most of the crowd were blowing off major post-pandemic steam and tapping into a pent-up reservoir of youthful energy. The encore ends on a cathartic megamix of ‘Hyper, Hyper’, ‘Friends’ and ‘Move Your Ass!’ all rolled into one as if to wear out the audience, get out of there as quickly as possible and most likely into bed with a cuppa. I’m exhausted looking at them and I’m a couple of decades younger.
I’m honestly not even sure what Scooter means to folks these days. Were they considered a gateway for harder forms of dance music? Is it yearning for a bygone era and how they entered the public lexicon? Everyone and I mean everyone knows who they are! As per one of their mid-song monologues, they started in 1994 and in 2022 are still on the case. Baxxter is a cultural icon who’s made a thirty-year career out of shouting in a German accent. That’s no mean feat whatsoever. I didn’t feel like I was there ironically, I felt like I was excavating something deep inside me and that was evident in the mix of people from the nostalgia chasers, vintage ravers and Gen Z raiders who swiped their parents’ wardrobes of Baby G watches and Kappa tearaway tracksuits. For me personally, they represent a fizzy childhood full of schoolyard theatrics with endlessly quotable lyrics. They are immense fun and no one can deny that. Respect to the man in the ice cream van. Loreana Rushe
Photos by Sean McMahon