At a celebratory night for London label Hyperdub, Getintothis’ Chris Burgess witnessed a prophecy come true at Liverpool Music Week.
On our way to The Kazimier we were stopped by a guy outside who literally grabbed our arm and shouted “Hey! There’s a free gig down there tonight! Go and get a wristband, it’s gonna go off!”
On edge and fearing a Mizzy Night egging, it calmed the nerves and felt good to see some positivity and passion in the people of Liverpool, and it genuinely got us more excited about heading here.
Walking through the Kaz Gardens into the club the place seemed relatively serene, however.
Inside the Less Effect DJs were warming up to a pretty empty venue, while outside was still bubbling with post-work drinkers.
A group of about eight students stood in a steadfast circle in the middle of the dancefloor, minimally shaking a leg and checking their mobile phones, while a lone pissed guy decided it made sense to chuck half-full pints all over the floor every five minutes, leaving the ultra-patient (and let’s face it, bloody awesome) Kaz staff to clean up after him. Luckily he didn’t stick round long.
Still, the Less Effect boys immediately showed why they’ve made such a big impact in the city. Genre-hopping while maintaining an immense flow of electronic tunes, the floor soon filled up, the Kazimier‘s wooden floors shaking beneath them to the heavy basslines.
On most nights dropping Dancehall Scientist by Pupajim followed shortly by Mobb Deep‘s Survival of the Fittest wouldn’t always pay off, but tonight it made this reviewer smile from ear to ear.
Hyperdub, the London-based label are celebrating a decade of pushing out grime, dubstep and otherworldly tunes. Led by founder Kode9 (Steve Goodman), the label have put out releases by the late DJ Rashad, Laurel Halo, Scratcha DVA and ambient dubstep pioneer Burial.
Cooly G has been with the label since her 2009 single Narst, a rapid-percussion UK funky track veering into grime territory. Since then she has recorded some of the most wonderfully sparse and subtle records the label has put out.
Tonight sees her take to the decks though, and it’s a world away from her own output. Playing a mix of house tunes – all with massive sub grooves – her at-times Chicago-infused set saw instant dancefloor feedback.
Initially appearing nervous, staring intensely at her controls, G‘s demeanour soon thawed, dancing along to every track. By the end of her set she was playing to a packed house.
Tchami’s hard-hitting Shot Caller garnered the biggest response of her set, before Kode9 took control shorty after 1am.
With a more bass-led, less in-your-face set than Cooly G, the whole Kode9 experience was a much smarter affair, dropping the likes of Ossie and PHRH‘s shifting Ugly Observation and Tom Richman’s belting Dro Montana (Royal Crown of Sweden Strings of Life Dub).
Far more thrilling live than his DJ-Kicks series mix, Kode9 skirted the edges of Hyperdub’s own unique sound, mixing genres but still resolutely sticking to the heavy bass that has come to define their modus operandi.
It was a smart, intelligent set, as you’d expect from a man of Goodman’s experience and the crowd responded well throughout.
Just before the end of the night we were reminded just how sad a year it had been for the Hyperdub crew, with both Chicago’s superb DJ Rashad and vocalist, poet, MC and Kode9 collaborator The Spaceape both passing away in the past eight months.
This added both a tinge of sadness and an air of tribute to what was, in the main, a celebratory night.
We hope Hyperdub continue to push out their brand of underground bass music for at least another ten years – they’re a label that push boundaries and forge new sounds.
The guy we met outside was right, it really did go off tonight. And no one got egged – which was a bonus.
Photos by Getintothis’ Vicky Pea