Capturing the rave scene in Scotland in its dying days, Brian Welsh’s spirited Beats is a slice-of-life portrait of the kids that won’t go down without a fight. It’s 1994, and best friends Johnno (Cristian Ortega) and Spanner (Lorne Macdonald) are on the phone chatting excitedly about the new EDM track they’ve discovered. “I waited two days on the radio to tape it,” Spanner says, immediately evoking a nostalgic romanticism when music was discovered like treasure.
Beats is propelled by an old fart piece of legislation: Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill which sets a ban on “gatherings around music characterized wholly or predominantly by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.” Characters will spit this phrase at several moments, tutting the T’s like a sort of battle cry. No stuffy laws will subdue the freewheeling spirit of kids just looking to escape from the West Lothian grey. The bill is only fuel for the fire.