As Nightmares on Wax hit 24 Kitchen Street, Getintothis’ Edd Handley was left feeling a bit short changed.
You find yourself at an after party sat on a friend’s sofa as the sunlight creeps in and the group conversation slows down then you start to notice the music that’s been playing for the last few hours: entirely inoffensive hip-hop layered with soul and jazz samples soothing you into Sunday morning.
In these circumstances, there’s a good chance what you’re listening to is Nightmares on Wax.
This scenario could be related to by everyone in present at 24 Kitchen Street who piled in to one of Liverpool’s best alternative venues to bear witness to this highly anticipated DJ set. Powered by the Madnice Soundsystem and endorsed by the Madnice Marauders (Liverpool’s leading promoters of all things soulful) and supported by Tall Black Guy, this event had been highlighted in social calendars since April of this year.
The event was Tall Black Guy’s Liverpool debut and hopefully, the first of many shows. In many ways, he was the perfect supporting artist. The set built gradually as the crowd capacity increased. Starting with smooth soul and Motown perfectly blended under trip-hop beats.
There was enough space in the crowd and the music was relaxing enough that it was almost tempting to sit on the floor and let it wash over you. As it progressed; however, the urge to sit on the floor was replaced by the need to move to the front, bounce from foot to foot and screw your face into an expression which may look like you’ve just stubbed your toe but really, it’s pure enjoyment.
Credit must also be given to the visual stimulus projected on three of the walls of the venue, behind the DJ and on both side walls. The animation Flashback by Danny Gomez was looped throughout TBG’s set; a psychedelic compilation of kaleidoscopic forest scenery which fitted in perfectly at 24 Kitchen Street with its dangling mirror ball the size of a small moon.
As the set drew to a close, the audience were treated to Al Green’s fantastically composed Let’s Stay Together, prompting a collective swaying of bodies which was only enhanced by the perfectly executed looping of the vocals while TBG experimented with neck-snapping hip-hop beats to underline the vocal loop. By this point, the crowd was well and truly warmed up for Nightmares on Wax and when he came on, he delivered…for about twenty minutes.
The opening track followed perfectly in suit with the mood of the support act. Lively, bass heavy hip-hop bordering on dubstep vibrating through the fantastic Madnice sound system and into the crowd exactly as it should. After a booming introduction, the sounds softened and progressed into funk and disco, the genre cross-over is NOW’s speciality and you would expect nothing less. This was the exact reason the remainder of the set was so disappointing.
After roughly twenty minutes of quintessential Nightmares on Wax, the genre crossing excitement and imaginative mixing disintegrated. The rest of the set, which was from half past twelve to four in the morning, may as well have been the same minimal house track played on a loop. The only variation that occasionally occurred would be a build-up in pitch and tempo and a slight increase in the kick-snare-kick-snare rhythm which would only lead to much the same melody but with a slight change in octave.
After the first half hour passed, the entire performance could only be described as predictable. Had the Madnice Marauders and BamBamBam been promoting a house night, then there could not be a single criticism to be had but the audience had been promised a night of funk, soul and hip-hop blending. This was provided by TBG. The headline act; however, did not live up to the expectations.
Arguably, the set list was in the incorrect order. Although Nightmares on Wax may have a longstanding history, an impressive discography and reputation for excellent live shows, unfortunately, he was overshadowed by the support act.
This is the main contribution to the disappointment of the performance: with no disrespect to TBG but he should not have provided the atmosphere promised by this event so much more than the headline.