Words: Michael Lawson
"This is easily one of the best sets I’ve heard in months!" a friend shouts in my ear as Helena Hauff shifts into another acid banger. Over the past couple of years the Hamburg native has undergone an exponential rise in popularity to become one of the most in-demand DJs on the planet. Her trademark sound is broad yet esoteric, ranging from acid-laced techno and retro-futurist electro through to obscure European EBM and new beat.
It’s a sound well-suited to a post-industrial backdrop such as Glasgow’s, and considering her date with Bigfoot’s Tea Party at a packed out Sub Club was her fourth in the city in just over a year, one that clearly resonates with its punters.
I arrived around midnight, descending the stairs to the sound of rumbling acid. I entered the Jamaica Street basement to find it three quarters full, and to my surprise Hauff had already taken to the decks. Whereas most DJs tend to start things off slow before gradually upping the tempo as the night goes on, the gritty, stripped-back tracks that were being churned out were already of a considerably high BPM.
The first hour saw her to and fro between raw acid and industrial techno and the crowd were visibly lapping it up. The dancefloor was getting busier and the booth was already taking a battering from those at the front – all the ingredients were there for a truly memorable night.
As it passed the 1am mark, Hauff turned her attention away from techno towards early futurist electro. Professor X’s eponymous debut single, a mainstay in her sets, gave the soundsystem a workout before the familiar sounds of Aux 88’s ‘Break It Down’ filled the club. Cheers roared from a section of the crowd at this point – Glasgow is a city with a longstanding adulation of all things Detroit – and it was clear that Hauff was enjoying the occasion just as much as the punters. Her hypnotic body movements portrayed someone who was at one with the music, rather than being something forced or superficial.
The atmosphere on the dancefloor was close to boiling point as Hauff somehow managed to continue at such a relentless tempo. Not once did such a speed become boring or overwhelming, chiefly thanks to her enduring taste and style. And testament to the broadness of her selections, I found myself struggling to identify any more than a handful of tunes all night – despite this being my fifth time watching her perform.
Gesloten Cirkel’s ‘Submit X’ was dropped as the set moved into its final stages, and it hit me that this is exactly what a set at the Subby should feel like: A DJ at the top of her game, playing an extended set on a faultless soundsystem to an enthusiastic, knowledgeable crowd. There’s nowhere else quite like it.
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