Patrick Widdess Reports on Bad Timing 11th Anniversary with Heatsick, The Cow, 06 December, 2012

The Cow

It’s a cold, bleak night and most people are still wearing their coats in the basement of The Cow. Can a man armed only with a battered Casio keyboard and a few effects pedals warm things up?

Stephen Warwick has been making electronic music since the age of fourteen; experimenting with lo-fi setups and recording tracks often improvised in one take. He has released music under various names: Birds of Prey, Hungover Breakfast and Birds of Delay; his long-standing collaboration with Luke Younger. Tonight he's performing solo as Heatsick and when he quietly takes up position behind his Casio shortly before 11pm he quickly takes control of the room playing simple loops that build up into complex tunes covering a plethora of electronic styles always with a slightly unpolished texture that Warwick favours over slick hi-tech production. The tunes blend seamlessly for most of the hour long show bringing together elements of a live performance and a DJ set.

Warwick creates a rich and powerful range of sounds from an instrument that is little more than a toy. Beneath his agile fingers the hexagonal drum pads produce intricate beats that repeat and multiply. When he botches a pattern on the first take it’s a reminder that this is a live performance not just a producer pressing play on a laptop.

This kind of lo-fi, underground music has had a small, dedicated following in Cambridge for over ten years. The gig marks the 11th anniversary of Bad Timing run by promoter Jo Brook. Bad Timing has featured local bands and DJs and international acts playing experimental, electronic, radiophonic, noise, lofi, improv, DIY and weird pop randomness. The audience tonight includes Pete Um and Man From Uranus both regular Bad Timing acts and several long-time supporters who have ensured this original and slightly quirky night has continued for over a decade.

The audience is not the most extrovert but whilst the dance floor remains empty the nods and toe tapping is genuinely appreciative. Warwick finishes his set to a round of backslaps and handshakes, a warm reaction for an obscure but skilled musician and his cheap old synth.

Text and photos: Patrick Widdess