Every generation has at least one song that captures the essence of their era. For the loved-up clubbers of the late 1980s and early 1990s, there are more than a few generation-defining songs to choose from. Near the top of any such list would be “Weekender” by London five-piece band Flowered Up.
Released in 1992, “Weekender” was Flowered Up’s ironic paean to rave culture—a hedonistic life of partying all the time, living life for drugs and music. It was the band’s biggest chart success, just skirting the UK top twenty and was deservedly hailed as their “masterpiece.”
Formed in 1989 by brothers Liam and Joe Maher, Flowered Up had a short but bright career that promised much more than was delivered, with the group sadly disbanding before achieving their full potential.
Apart from being a classic rave song, “Weekender” became a short film written and directed by W.I.Z. (aka Andrew “W.I.Z.” Whiston)—a hip young promo director who went on to direct music videos for Primal Scream, Oasis, Massive Attack, Manic Street Preachers, Kasabian and Dizzee Rascal, amongst many others. W.I.Z. took Flowered Up’s song and created a film that captured the hedonism of “E” culture and tied it back to its musical antecedent The Who’s Quadrophenia. Flowered Up were often “lazily compared” to “Madchester” bands like Happy Mondays and Northside, but as W.I.Z. once wrote in his obituary for Flowered Up’s lead singer Liam Maher, who died in 2009 from a drug overdose, Flowered Up were:
...much closer to The Clash or The Who, sharing the contradictions of white boys within a black music scene, Liam articulating with incandescent anger the doubts hidden by the prevailing euphoria.
W.I.Z. described Liam as “a vital poet, like Pete Townshend before him”:
...he was the first of his generation to eloquently question the sincerity of its unbridled hedonism. Nowhere more savagely succinct than in their swansong, ‘Weekender’.
W.I.Z.‘s film Weekender opens and closes with the iconic image of lead actor Lee Whitlock staring directly at the camera as he slowly descends on a window cleaning platform, while Phil Daniels’ dialog from the film Quadrophenia plays underneath.
As W.I.Z. points out:
There’s nothing romantic about this, as when ecstasy culture finally expired, [Liam] like many of his peers were cast-offs, left skint with crippling drug addictions, unable to reconcile the comedown and the missed opportunity (for social change) that he, before anyone else, had had the honesty to admonish.
A quarter of a century on, Weekender has lost none of its power and daring in capturing the hedonism of rave culture—and here it is in its uncensored glory.