Following an afternoon of indoor picnics (the weather was awful!!!) and amusing repertee with friends old and new, we trundled off to Brixton ready for a fine old time. Meeting Hilda and TIR at the door to Brixton Electric I was pleasantly surprised to find no queue, no moodiness from the bouncers and a quick service at the bar. We had arrived relatively early and were off to a good start!
We have a DJ, one guy on synths, Mike on keys, and a sax player. Initially it was enthralling, the sax player was amazing and we were treated to snippets of The Bells and were easing into a great live set. But after about 15mins I had had enough. You would think that such a stellar ensemble would have their own sound guy but no, they had an in-house tech who had been dealing with DJs up to now and was no good at changing things on the fly. Having flown in from a performance at Dekmantle, via a same day set at Electric Frog in Glasgow there cannot have been a sound check before the event. And it showed. A lot. All we could hear was the sax. He was out the front of the stage doing some call and response with Mike on a Keytar but Mike's sound was lost. The sax player was quite clearly very talented but was also VERY self indulgent and did not know when to stop. The set would have benefited greatly from him shutting the fuck up here and there so that we could hear the beat and actually dance. The more it went on the more exhausting it was and the more my patience wore thin. It was live improvisational jazz sax and nowt else.
Finally, he finally stopped and the beats and synths pushed forward and picked up, only to trail along doing not much for ages, with the occasional build up here and there but with the levels to low for us to hear it clearly so everything sounded monotonous. Often they all sound like they are playing totally different tracks. It wasn't hideous, I didn't mind it (my fave comment used on Masterchef when John doesn't like something but appreciates the effort). Everything bumbled along nicely enough, the room had a generally nice vibe, the dance floor gained some space whilst people took the chance to go to the bar and vanish off to other parties and there were many many smiley people soaking up their heroes. Then the musicians kind of petered out and vanished leaving just the DJ on stage alone playing similar stuff but with the right levels and correct smattering of sax. It was FANTASTIC. I zipped off to the loo and returned to see the full band back but this time the sax player was on a laptop. Again it all plodding along and I could just about make out good things being layered up but the mid levels were still too low all I could hear was bass and top end. All the interesting stuff was lost. Then I got a priceless text from TIR at the back of the room telling me that EVD was so bored that she was listening to PETDuo on her headphones. That was a little much I thought but then jazz is not really EVD's first love.
We went back into the main room and it was all ending to rapturous applause and then an encore. The encore was the clearest sound I heard since the first track. It was full of energy and a soulful riffs. The keytar level was higher so I could actually hear it. Too little too late though and I was just glad it was over. The crowd were going mental - clearly not everyone shared by opinion. And then there was a brain cleansing silence and the hum of general chit chat as the decks were reinstated for Ruskin.
|The votes are in|
I have never been so pleased to see James Ruskin. The man had one hell of a task on his hands following
that vibe and he handled it well. The strobes kicked in and so did some much needed tougher, funkier beats. Hands were in the air across the room, everyone shuffling about harder than before. I survey the room from the mezzanine and wonder when it was in club history that people stopped dancing. Was it something to do with a change in drugs? With not wanting to look stupid? With over crowded dance floors maybe? Once upon a time everyone used to bust some proper moves. Two feet came up of the floor, hips swirled and people showed some personality. They didn't just stare at the DJ and shuffle from side to side with their arms just randomly wafting about. Luckily at that precise second Ash appeared and my faith in clubbers returned as he was legs akimbo, arms punching the air, giving the floor a proper seeing to.
Ruskin continued to rock the old school house vibe and move on into his regular energetic pounding techno. Slowly my general enthusiasm and energy levels are returning and I too feel like dancing around. It's now 5am and we must make it through to Jeff Mills. 5hrs to go. It's weird how some nights go past in a flash, but having not been thrilled with all the music and not having sat down for 8 hrs by now, I was struggling. There are many times we've been clubbing for much longer stretches but those clubs had chairs for the odd rest! Determined to enjoy myself I soaked up the high tempo lights and their greens and purples alongside some great serene nature themed screen visuals.
Ruskin's set gets harder as it goes on. I am zapped. Tired. Hot. Sweaty. Need a shower. As the set ends I am just getting tetchy and irritable. Am on the verge of turning into moody troll and ruining everyone's vibe so I carried myself off to sort my contact lenses out and sit down for 5mins on the sofa in the loos.
|The names Mills... Jeff Mills|
After a short experimental intro Jeff slammed away. Very much a danceable set. I was elated, I was relieved and after half pint of Pepsi I was raring to go. Metallic harpsichord downwards sliding scales cascaded over and over. Chugging bass and odd glockenspiel notes like heavy rain drops plopping on a puddle filled my ears. All I could see were mates dancing (to varying degrees depending on the elderliness of their knees).
Bets were put on as to when The Bells would drop. Following a course of dream sequence style riffs and a horrid sustained high pitched drone - like both flat and sharp piano keys being slammed down for fucking ages I was going mental. Too tired to bear it. But as with last the screech ended, doused by a floaty melodic flourish and new beat, which built up and carried me to awakness as The Bells came in 68mins into the set. EVD and GML had just said their Goodbyes but 30 seconds into the Bells they ran over to us. They had almost made it out the doors before hearing The Bells and rushing back in. Even better - The 909 came out in full effect for a little jam session. It gave me wings. Achy legs said Bye Bye. I LOVE LOVE LOVED IT.
Sad to say that we didn't make it to the end. We left 30mins before it was all over. Beaten by tiredness and the wish to get ahead of the crowd for the cloakroom and tube.
A mixed bag over all with some definite highlights, bu the flow and set order was all wrong and UR's lack of sound check and over indulgent sax meant what should have been the best techno night ever, was merely an OK night out.