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Clubnight Reviews

All of the following articles were originally written for www.spoonfed.co.uk and can be accessed in full here

Bugged Out with Fake Blood, Bowski and Boy 8 Bit at XOYO – 02/04/11


I’m met by some gutsy, stomping rhythms as I descend into the basement of XOYO. Behind the decks is a bloke called Dave, whose long hair flops about as his set is totally engaging the young crowd. He looks like someone you’d meet in the pit of a Metallica gig circa 1990, but instead he’s a creator and purveyor of a ballsy, tech-house sounds and goes by the moniker Boy 8 Bit.

Whilst my friend is nursing a bad knee, she stands at the back and tells me to get amongst it in the crowd whilst she taps her toes and rests by the sound booth. “I’ll dance with you!” exclaims a girl who’s tossing her hair about and smiling from ear to ear, and her mates flock over to keep me company. Nothing but six flashing spot lights adorn the DJ’s plinth; it’s pretty basic, yet still, all eyes are facing front and he’s owning the floor right now as the stomping rhythms carry on. Then the sounds of steel drums come into effect, and I don’t get it, so I head to the bar.

We’ve returned to the back by the booth, where the guys behind it decide to operate the smoke machine, and I’m enveloped by a haze of fog, like some ’80s music video (well, sort of). It sems to be the cue for Fake Blood to appear on stage, and he edges towards the booth to take over. All who follow him on Twitter will know he’s a wry, cynical bloke, but his rants are always amusing. Tonight he’s showcasing his Blood Music label, which plays host to the likes of Bowski, who kicked off proceedings tonight, and brazen electro duo Clouds. He brings with him a complex, allegedly eery light show , and as he busts on to take charge, images of floating haemoglobin crawl around the walls. His set seems a continuation of Boy 8 Bit’s, but stamped with his own brand of macho, grinding electro, layered with glitches and the occasional acid throwback.

‘Stuck On Repeat’ (a blast from the past) oozes in as arms with questionable tattoos throw fist pumps and girls and boys flail around. Amidst the excitement, some people from the crowd have also taken to the stage looking pretty chuffed with themselves before a swift telling off. The set has taken a darker turn, with some industrial sounds coming into effect, while more weird images crawl around the walls as part of the show. Whatever the aims of these are, it’s lost on me as I’m all too amused by Dave’s dancing in the background.

After a while, the whole image show aspect does seem a tad pointless as I’m sure no one is in any state to notice, and the glitchy, fidgety drops do at times get tiring. The girl with the ear-to-ear grin aside, the whole night has a very macho feel, with the ‘lad’ types in the crowd and the vodka swilling on stage. But then hey, these guys sure know how to rock a dancefloor.

Scandalism with Jack Beats @ The Nest November 2010

Shamefully, tonight is my first visit to the The Nest, the latest club to try its luck on the Stokey/Dalston border, and I thought it was about time to see it for myself. I’m quite surprised by the size of queue outside this place tonight, which is massive already. Usually 11 is a good time to hit the club, but here, they’re already operating a one in one out policy and the bouncer is taking no prisoners. With no clear idea of what to expect, as most reports from friends consist of “it was good, but I got there pretty late and was very drunk” tonight I’m going in with an open mind.

The first thing that strikes me when we finally get in there is the sound quality- really full on with the right measure of bass without rattling, and no tinny sounds either. To my left is an empty cage signposted to be for “dancers” and a neon birdcage hangs above my head. I feel like I’m in an underground bunker, or a speakeasy, and the rectangular room stretches longer than I can see. The DJ booth is shaded by a mist of green and pink, and there’s just about room for everyone to dance.

After picking up a whisky and ginger from the bar we head straight in to the crowd, however it’s so rammed it’s quickly becomes a bit of a struggle to find the space to move around in. The vibe here reminds me of the nights I went to as a student, which I mean in the sense that it is packed, everyone is rather drunk, and there are some pointing dance moves going on that I feel obliged to imitate. It’s not long before we’re in our own bubble of dad-style dancing.

Jack Beats have taken over and are mixing and mashing up all sorts, with vocal snippets and glitchy beats layered over each other, chopping and changing between very different samples. One minute ‘One’ is going down and the young crowd is lapping it up reaching for the non-existent lasers, the next minute it’s the dirty grimacing bass of Babylon Dub. There’s a feeling of never knowing where they might take it next, and that’s a good and a bad thing. As soon as we identify the sound of steel drums that underlies another song layered over, we’re drumming along in time, as you do.

The fact that you never know where you are with this kind of music can be exciting, but constant chopping and changing can get to you. Tonight it’s working though, and despite the erratic selections I’m in a good mood and they’re making the transition between random samples, urban beats and vocals, throwing in ‘Lemonade’ in for good measure. My first venture into “clubbing” was this style of music and this sized space, and I get the strange sensation that I’m observing my old party days from the side of the dance floor. Best of all, the atmosphere is unpretentious and I’m not the drunkest one in the room…

We had fun tonight- the space is awesome- it’s just the right size, the sound-system is spot on, the crowd is young and easy going and I can definitely afford to drink here. The music, well it was good to dance to, but it did kind of make me realise how my taste has changed – but that’s not to say I don’t like it anymore, in fact, it kind of made me nostalgic. Good god, I feel old…

Erol Alkan @ Dalston Superstore August 2010

My first Erol Alkan experience was in the basement of the Consortium club in Bournemouth way back in 2007: back when “I heart NY” t shirts were “trendy” and the summer of (emphasis on inverted commas) “nu rave” had just passed. I accept I was a latecomer to the Erol experience, but it’s better late than never. I seem to remember attempting to climb into the speaker that night. He ended the set with ‘Phantom part II’, and (as seems to be standard at any parties I’ve attended) the crowd were pleading for more.

I’m putting it out there; I am a big fan of his brand of dirty, gritty electro and his sets are a knock out. Whenever I’ve been to see him it’s always a night to recall with a big smile on my face. His “Keeping Kids Dancing” tagline has extended to babies, who (albeit unwittingly) wear baby-gros bearing his name, which, by the way, have gone back on sale. When I heard that I was going to an intimate set at Dalston Superstore I let out a rather subdued “ooh!” because I was at my desk at the time and I wasn’t sure if I should be out on a school night, but hell I’ll go anyway.

Amidst the excitement for tonight my attention to detail slightly lapses. A three-mile journey east from my house somehow has taken an hour and a half, two buses and two cab rides. Finally, we’re on Kingsland High Street (not Kingsland Road, ahem). Aware of the impending set time of half 11, I blurt out, slightly inaudibly, my name, and the girl on the door with the list ticks my name off and hands me a temporary transfer.

We’re just strolling out of the unisex toilets to head across the basement to the bar and I glance to the left to see floppy dark hair and a flannel shirt. Shit! Mate, he’s started! There’s no barrier between the dance floor and him, and a lot of different people seem to be leaning in to chat. Feeling rather coy and unsure of the limitations here (none) I say something in Man With Camera’s ear and tell him to pass it on to Erol. “Ask him yourself” Really?! I finally pluck up the courage and lean in: “Put something dirty on!”, to which he responds with an amused grin, and reaches for another vinyl.

The beat of ‘Blue Monday’ pulsates into action, somehow impossible to tire of. It’s the version with Kylie on it. A tall man is clanging the railings to the beat, and everyone on the floor is going for it. I almost feel inclined to put my arm around the stranger next to me (I wouldn’t really). Fischerspooner’s ‘Emerge’ then kicks in and oh it’s good. I’d forgotten about that one. I should add at this point that it’s a special “back to 2001” Bugged Out! set, which I forgot until a curly blonde girl kindly reminded me, so no ‘Lemonade’ or heads in speakers tonight. Still, it’s really good fun.

Once he’s done, he just steps to the side. Soon enough, a girl runs over and flings her arms around him, and people are pausing on their way out to give “Alright Mate” kind of nods and have a brief chat. I think we might be the only people here who don’t know him personally. We’ve done an alright job at disguising it until my friend drags Man With Camera over so we can have a picture, and Erol politely obliges. Ahh, lovely.


Top photo courtesy of J.Rowsom

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