pet shop boys o2 matter smirnoff1 468x353 Can You Gig It?: Smirnoff Experience: U.R The Night feat. Pet Shop Boys, Little Boots @ Matter, The O2, 10.7.09

It’s a fact of modern gig-going that the more brands get involved, the more unwieldy become blog post headers. Hence that displeasing title up there. Peh.

Anyway, Louise Doherty went to Matter for the latest Smirnoff Original Nights extravaganza, and came back with a newfound respect for Little Boots. And a tattooed tit.

Crowdsourcing is best known as that thing people do when they’re too lazy to use Google. Y’know, asking your Facebook friends or Twitter followers to find you a cheesetastic club in Margate, suggest a birthday present for your 84 year-old grandmother or decide whether you should dye your hair bright pink or not (all real life examples by the way – I have some scintillating friends).

But Smirnoff, undoubtedly trying to shake off the damage done to their brand by Smirnoff Ice-swilling chavs, have managed to harness the power of crowdsourcing for the greater good. No, really. Smirnoff: U.R. The Night at The O2’s Matter, part of the Smirnoff Original Nights series, was billed as an “innovative co-creation format” where attendees earned their ticket by helping to shape the night.

Fans of the night’s Facebook page were asked to vote on a number of things, including which drinks to serve (all containing Russia’s finest, naturally), the DJ’s playlist and a theme for the pre-event boat party.

Given the tendency of the public at large to veer to the extreme, it could easily have ended up as a Pimps and Ho’s themed night of Europop and snakebite. Instead, it was one of the most fun, random, and, thanks to the free drinks, alcoholic nights of my life (tip: when reviewing a night organised by a drink with any kind of percentage, it is advisable to eat dinner).

The boat party turned out to be calypso-themed, meaning we were greeted with flower garlands and cocktails on boarding, followed by games of pinata and limbo – both of which were more eventful than expected after one poor girl got a split lip from an ill-judged pinata swing, and an over-optimistic limbo-er flashed her nether regions to the entire Thames (AMAZING – Ed).

Rumours were flying from port to starboard about what exactly was waiting for us at Matter – most people seemed to have signed up to vote weeks ago, and had no idea what they were actually attending. Hopes were not high.

Once inside it became clear that this wasn’t some shoddy, lazily-organised corporate wank-off for social meeja, internet-y types. Aside from headliners Pet Shop Boys, Little Boots and Hot Chip there were mixology lessons, a digital graffitti wall, a fortune teller, X-rated bingo and a tattoo parlour for punters to get a semi-permanent reminder of the night. Mine (a classy rose on my left breast) turned out to be rather more permanent than I expected, still very visible at the gym the next day despite hours of scrubbing.

The star of the live acts by a long way was Little Boots. I was already a fairweather fan of 25 year-old Victoria Hesketh’s kooky brand of electro pop, but given her success thus far I should have realised that actually, she’s considerably better than the Kylie-in-waiting I had her down to be. The girl can, like, sing! And play!

As well as the electro musician’s staple, the keyboard, she had a strange vibrating, warbling black box, and something I later discovered to be a Tenori-on – a kind of Etch-a-Sketch beat box filled with lights. Want! And whilst I’m stealing things from Miss Boots, I’ll take the shiny, spangly dress she was wearing too.

The Pet Shop Boys were billed as the headline act, but given the cutting edge image of the night (sealed by the appearance of my new favourite duo The Count and Sinden) PSB seemed… out of place. Out of decade, in fact. They were the embarrassing dads at the cool kids’ party. I spent the whole of their 30-minute set waiting for “West End Girls” to come on, during which time I learned that it’s actually possible to sing the “West End Girls” lyrics along to all PSB’s songs. Yawn.

The best music -and indeed general craic – of the night was to be found in the Swaparama room. The idea behind Swaparama is to choose an outfit from the gigantic washing line full of vintage clothes and fancy dress in the middle of the room, dance like a loon until the horn sounds and then return to pick a new outfit, and repeat ad nauseum. I’ve no idea who was Djing, though it wouldn’t surprise me if it was Zane Lowe – think funky-eclectic shit that makes you throw yourself around the room involuntarily.

All I do know is by this point I’d sampled every combination of vodka and mixer in the building (including with Earl Grey, recommended) and I was ready to go home. When I finally slumped into bed at 5am my partner in crime and I had acquired a pair of sunglasses apiece, a top hat, a sweat band, a feather boa and a rather fetching acid green poncho. Now that’s an Original Night.

[image: vicoriapeckham on Flickr]

This was a guest post by Louise Doherty, who blogs hereabouts and tweets thereabouts.

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