Spread over one weekend and numerous venues, the Glasgow leg of the Red Bull Music Academy UK Tour saw some of the finest local talent pitched next to international headliners and on-point up and comers. Now in its second year of visiting Glasgow, the tour allowed enthusiastic fans to party, participate and learn at a series of events ranging from Jackmaster’s intimate Disco Spin to a grime showdown at The Poetry Club. We were lucky enough to be at some of the key events, and we've only just caught our breath:
Disco Spin: All Vinyl, All Disco
Words: Colin Brownbill
Arguably the most hyped event of the weekend (and certainly the most sought after ticket), Disco Spin was an invitation to catch globe-trotting local lad, Jackmaster play a rare, all-vinyl set in a functioning laundrette.
With washing machines against the wall, glittering disco balls hanging from the ceiling and the occasional burst of bubbles floating through the air, the Majestic Laundrette had been transformed into Glasgow’s freshest dancefloor.
Throwing Shade had the job of warming-up, the London DJ revelling in the relaxed atmosphere with the freedom to dig deep and funky. Selections from The Whispers, Freeez and Michael Jackson had the room swaying – as did the vodka measures.
By the time Jackmaster arrived, everyone was in Saturday night mode. With limited capacity and nothing to do but dance, it was an undeniably joyous scene which felt like we’d stepped back in time to 70s New York. Of course, when people started pinging panties about and singing “here we fucking go”, that fantasy was shattered by a very Glaswegian reality.
Still, the select crowd had no problem bumping and grooving to a soundtrack of fairly obscure disco, and they certainly responded to big numbers like Larry Levan’s mix of ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, belting out the words like it was the final tune in the Sub Club, not 10PM in a Finnieston wash-house.
Ending with a piano house peach, Jackmaster had us grinning from ear to ear. If only doing the washing was this much fun...
GLA X LDN: Glasgow Grime
Words: Michael Lawson
Glasgow probably isn’t the first place that springs to mind when you think of grime in the traditional sense, but a burgeoning scene has developed over the past couple of years, giving the city a sound all of its own. At the forefront of this scene are the likes of DJ Milktray, Bushido and Rapture 4D.
Held in the modest confines of The Poetry Club, GLA x LDN paired some of London’s foremost MCs and beat-makers with the aforementioned artists. It was the local lads holding the fort as we entered, with Milktray and Bushido laying down some large grime instrumentals. The familiar sound of Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’ filled the venue as Milktray dropped the TC4 remix, leaving the crowd positively buzzing.
It was then time for a seasoned veteran to move onto the decks in the form of Rinse FM’s Sir Spyro. Sifting through his back-catalogue, he took the night to the next level. ‘Side By Side’ and ‘10/10’ were unleashed before his recently-released behemoth, ‘Topper Top’, forced the crowd into perhaps its most frenzied state of the night.
The final 40 minutes saw Newham Generals don D Double E take to the stage for a somewhat underwhelming performance. His vocals were muffled, in part due to the microphone not being loud enough, and he lacked that raw energy and enthusiasm that was on show from preceding MCs, Capo Lee and Jammz. A tinge of sourness in what was an otherwise excellent cross-border grime knees-up.
Sub Club Special: Kölsch Live
Words: Matthew Pollock
Arriving at the Barrowlands for the weekend's opening event, we find RBMA graduate Nightwave on stage, tasked with warming-up this massive, grandiose space. Her set flickers between house, techno and even the odd Beyonce track. While some at the front thrash to the perennially shifting tempo, others load up at the bar, hovering with anticipation in the darker recesses of the room.
When Kölsch appears on the decks, he kicks off with ‘Basshund’, a high-octane signal of intent that grabs our attention straight away. The atmosphere transforms in an exhilarating way, with a room full of people experiencing a frisson of musical pleasure in the same moment.
Yet before long, it becomes clear we’re being treated to a fairly predictable set of the hits; each immaculately produced track fading seamlessly into the next without so much as a scintilla of live input or experimentation.
The sheer vastness of the Barrowlands Ballroom, coupled with the fairly modest volume of the soundsystem, means the set never really achieves lift-off quite in the way it should. Towards the end, the sheer brilliance of tracks like ‘Opa’ and ‘Loreley’ create some memorable moments – yet even these feel largely devoid of progression.
Later, in the intimacy of the Sub Club afterparty, Kölsch’s sound feels more at home – the dancers are up for it and his synth-drenched selections hit much harder within a sealed sweatbox. His second set of the night unfolds in a way that’s progressive, playful and much less predictable – at several points, the crowd is ablaze. That’s better.
La Cheetah's 7th Birthday
Words: Chester Cornford
A considerable percentage of my nights-out are spent in either Max’s or La Cheetah, and only once have I experienced them in unison. Queuing is largely alien to La Cheetah, so the bodies lining Queen Street confirmed that tonight’s 7th birthday was a big one.
We arrived in the basement to the sound of Beatrice Dillon, who was playing dubby club tracks to a lively and considerably packed room for only 11.15PM. This was probably one of my favourite ‘warm-up’ sets of the year, as the NTS resident had the room in full swing without going full throttle.
Lukid was up next, with arguably the best set of the night. The producer, who is rumoured to be one-half of Rezzett, played across the spectrum, with deeper cuts matched with break-beats and melodic house numbers. Never hitting too hard, he certainly found dancefloor appreciation.
Closing the La Cheetah basement was Actress, who went deeper than Lukid, bringing the energy down with a more interesting, but less club-focused set. Again, another highlight from a cult-hero studded line-up.
Heading upstairs to experience Mister Saturday Night, and with the chairs gone to create a makeshift dancefloor, Max’s was cramped, but bouncy. Playing a distinctly more ‘party’ set than the more serious sounds of the club, the NYC duo kept it peaked from start to finish. Jeff Mill’s ‘The Bells’ was perhaps a little too much, but was, as expected, met with a raucous reaction from a boisterous crowd.
Numbers: Sensory Sounds
Words: Colin Brownbill
There was a very intriguing sense of mystery when approaching the door of The Savings Bank. Across the river and inconspicuously situated opposite The Laurieston on Bridge St, a sole doorman was the only indication that something was happening inside.
But for those who made the effort, this special event hosted by ever-evolving label and party, Numbers, was a definite highlight of the weekend. Through plumes of smoke and hazy blue light we found ourselves in a fascinating room dominated by a two-tier, circular structure underneath an impressive dome ceiling.
Local lighting technicians Shaun Murphy, Jenny Johan Reid and Mark Macgregor have installed a series of strips and strobes on each pillar surrounding the compact dancefloor, while some carefully positioned mirrors bounce laser-guided beams at all angles.
When tonight’s headliner, experimental Italian composer Lorenzo Senni takes position, we move closer to the action. Hidden behind a bank of buttons and faders, he releases a series of icy synth-stabs which sound so sharp you feel they could draw blood. Senni’s set peaks and plummets, with maximalist crescendos reminiscent of Rustie’s ‘Glass Swords’ balanced with ambient, interstellar sounds.
Transforming this unique space with only sound and light, Numbers managed to create a mesmerising sensory experience, the type of which promoters should explore more often.
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