Following the splash made by Red Bull Beat Boat, we explore a few other near-legendary boat gigs.
A cool sea breeze, thick ocean spray – oh, and 1,000htz of pulsating beats from two top DJ duos. Disclosure and Klangkarussell climbed aboard a converted container ship to do their thing at Red Bull Beat Boat last week. But what other legendary parties have taken place on boats? As the saying almost goes, strange things happen at sea...
An iconic moment in British punk, the Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen party in June 1977 began as your average record label do – cocktails, nibbles and schmoozing journalists and label bods on a charter boat floating innocuously on the Thames. It ended hours later in the sort of chaos Sid Vicious and co would become famous the world over for. When the band played their anti-establishment anthem live, blaring it at Westminster Pier and the Houses of Parliament, police forced the boat to dock, with the band smuggled to safety as members of their entourage were arrested.
There’s worse ways to spend your 26th birthday than leaping about a boat off the Croatian coast, spinning tunes for your fans. That’s what Benga discovered at this year’s Hideout on the Island of Pag, where his set alongside Skream has gone down in Hideout history as one of the maddest ever. The Magnetic Man DJ spent almost as much time crowd surfing as he did in the DJ booth, dropping crisp dubstep beats that whirred the crowd into the sort of maritime screaming frenzy not seen since the Titanic. Minutes before boarding, Benga did a bungee jump to “get my adrenaline pumping.”
Don’t be put off by the Richard Curtis comedy it inspired, 2009’s The Boat That Rocked – Radio Caroline, a former Danish ship converted into a pirate radio station circling far enough offshore to avoid British music broadcasting laws but close enough to be blasted across the airwaves, was a riot. There’s a reason why Status Quo and Thomas Dolby wrote songs in tribute to this bastion of swinging ‘60s hedonism: based off the coast of Suffolk, it broadcast the music BBC radio wouldn’t while those on board partied into the early hours.
Having played at the Natural History museum, at the Higgs boson particle blaster and in an underground mine, British Sea Power know a thing or two about playing gigs off the beaten track. Which is presumably why a date at a disused oil rig in the English Channel, the Principality Of Sealand, in 2005 felt like just another show for singer Yan Wilkinson. “It’s a great place – this father and son live there and there’s been little battles on there before where they’ve had to fight off drug smugglers who’ve tried to take it over," the frontman told NME. Stranger still, the show was bankrolled by British political group the Monster Raving Loony Party in exchange for campaign music.
There’s been a boom in gigs and festivals on cruise liners. The Coachella festival staged a nautical version of their indie weekender last year, while R Kelly’s planned Love Letter Cruise was all set to embark before the star’s relationship with organisers fractured. It’s slacker-rock mainstays Weezer who are responsible for the most notorious yet, though, taking fans for a journey to the Bahamas on 2012’s Weezer Cruise. Weezer-themed game shows, an audience with the band and photo opportunities with the band’s seafaring captain, Rivers Cuomo, were among the attractions on the cruise, which set sails again next summer.