“Don’t be a slave, come to the rave!” - D-Man
In the new blog series Steppin' into the Screen, Shady Lady pens reviews on a wide variety of music-related films, documentaries and TV shows (from all sides of the globe). She does so with her signature tongue-in-cheek writing (AKA shade) and with keen observation. Accompanied by her Discogs-inspired rating system, she calls the film condition board, Shady Lady's recommendations help you overcome your choice fatigue.
It feels only natural to do my first film review on a piece of cinema that feels eerily reflective of the times we are currently in. In a world where parties are currently considered illegal what better film to watch than Beats (2019). Scottish writer, Keiren Hurley and director, Brian Welsh, take us back to Glasgow ‘94, the era of acid house raves. The Criminal Justice & Public Order Bill was to be set in place and the rules were clear: unlicensed gatherings were to be outlawed where “amplified music is played...wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats”.
Through the eyes of two best friends, Johnno and Spanner (Cristian Ortega & Lorn Macdonald), we watch a dull and grey world (quite literally as the film grade is black and white) where the Government retaliates to the rise in raves.
Radio announcements and news footage are interwoven as an introductory soundtrack, working to the film’s advantage and giving it that documentary element.
This rites-of-passage film follows the boys on their Holy Grail quest to make it to their first illegal rave, Revolt. The storyline isn’t particularly surprising but with a soundtrack of pumping rave anthems from The Prodigy, LFO and one of my personal favourites, of course, Anthem by N-Joi, it makes you yearn to be back at the rave. We see the heaving sweaty crowds, the elated faces and a psychedelic montage of car factories & production lines giving a sneaky nod to its Detroit origins. I also have the inside scoop from credible sources that this was no fake set up, the extras were real flesh and blood Glaswegian ravers, the DJ was throwing down beats and this was a real rave on set.
Beats truly flung me back to my first rave (Hard Wars in the Western suburbs of Sydney) with the anticipation of the address, the twisted journey to get there and all the soggy yet satisfying hugs shared with strangers.
Watching this story of friendship and the passion for the party will remind plenty of SIT readers at this very moment in time, how much we miss our fellow rave community. Given how relevant this film is now in 2021 and with a soundtrack that heavily plucks all my inner-raver heartstrings, I’m going to rate this as Near Mint. Make sure to always check my Film (Discogs) Condition Board below for all ratings! Beats is available to rent on Youtube (possible through the above trailer link).
WARNING: You will need subtitles for the thick yet sexy Scottish accents. Watching this film will trigger you into a mental state of raving nostalgia. Viewers have been found in their neighbour's backyards scabbing cigarettes in bushes and gabbering alone.