An internationally star-studded affair from Break Thru, organised by local bass legend Blindside and situated in the recently opened Alfie Bird’s in Birmingham’s creative quarter, Digbeth.
The event? Drum & bass duo SpectraSoul’s fantastic album ‘The Mistress’ is due for general release the first week of June, and they have been on a UK tour, playing their collection of light liquid sounds and darker album tracks far and wide.
As I approached the location, I found a few stragglers from the Gay Pride celebrations who were collecting themselves before downing their Rekorderlig, sticking out like drunken sore thumbs… everyone else knew what they were there for, a night of liquid sounds and a friendly atmosphere. And boy did it deliver.
I spent some time between sets sat chatting to friends outside about the misrepresentation around Birmingham and how people see it as a particularly violent city. As with any large city, there are good areas and dodgy areas; it’s about not letting small things become the generalised view of it. Here we had a completely positive atmosphere, minimal security apart from a pat down on entry and I don’t think that there was a harsh word said throughout the entire evening.
As I checked out the main room, Kazakhstani born Command Strange was on a V Recordings tip, bopping around completely carefree as he played out beats I couldn’t even pick up with Shazam (the hipster journalist in me is pissed off about that, but I figured I could soldier on and make the best of it).
Rising to notoriety through a collab with the incredible McFats on ‘Brand New Style’ Command Strange was producing and releasing from the tender age of 16 and can now brag a personal collection of over 100 produced/released tracks. After being booked for a separate bass music event ‘Muzik Hertz’ which ended up being postponed, Break Thru snapped him up; when travelling from Eastern Europe, they rightly knew it would have been a wasted opportunity. Having someone so celebrated as Command Strange on our doorsteps isn’t something that will happen for a while (at least until the next Break Thru event!).
“With Command Strange’s most recent EP (out on V Recordings now) fresh in the forefront of everyone’s minds, new music and open minds walk hand in hand here.”
We always enjoy attending events like this, where Break Thru leave the attitudes at the door. Once you’re inside, you can be sure to see friendly faces. The atmosphere makes up a huge part of an event like this. There’s so much new music and discovery that you tune in to the music and put your egos to the side. Of course, when a big tune does drop, you can feel the crowd bubble with anticipation.
Hosting alongside the Djs is a big role – the MC has to gage the crown, read them, read the dj and whatever they’re playing and adapt. They get a hard rap sometimes, but it’s an unenviable job at the best of times.
Holding the fort tonight are Mantmastt & Fozz. Too little interaction and the crowd can lose its way, too much and the same can occur, unable to appreciate the sounds; they have to find a happy medium where there adding something to the DJ’s selections. I’m happy to say these two knew their track selections, when to step up and step off.
By the time Command Strange stepped off the decks, there was a lot of love for him, and yet more as Ivy Lab took position, with music fresh from their 20/20 release on Critical.
Surprising for some, their vibe was menacingly dark for a 1am slot, especially with the SpectraSoul duo (not known for their slangbanger anthems) would be following them. No strangers to Birmingham, they’ve played with the Birmingham based events group Seedy Sonics at the Rainbow Venues round the corner in Digbeth also.
“It felt like the Ivy Lab crew needed the first hour to get in tune with the crowd and the vibe, because once they found their groove, they really got the most out of the intimate venue.”
I also think, there was an element of knowing the SpectraSoul duo were behind them, thus they pulled out the bangers. Fun (gun) fingers were had by many.
SpectraSoul duo made up of Jack and Dave, brought out the smoother liquid sounds from 2am, allowing the female vocals to rise through the venue. It quickly filled up inside the place; I’m the kind of guy to stand with my friends in the back third of the dance-floor, where there’s actual air to breathe and space to dance.
Space to dance to tunes like this; a TC rerub of the criminally underrated track by Fono entitled ‘Real Joy’ which I’m calling out as my track of the night. Listen to it below.
What’s great to see is both of the duo are here; often with busy touring schedules, collaborative outfits will do some sets solo but tonight both were in attendance, with a half hour b2b set from each over the couple of hours they were playing.
The brand new cuts from The Mistress went down decidedly well, a mixture of heavy hitting bass leading tracks into ‘Long Gone’ a recent release from RAM Records duo Calyx & TeeBee (at this point I’m getting really pissed off that Shazam ain’t being my friend).
It hits half three and it’s the end of my night – the Oobleck sign is flashing behind the duo as they pass out some liquid rollers that definitely seem fitting for this time in my mind. I look to the flyer in hand as I leave, ‘Sun & Bass Reunion and Label Launch’ and I already know it’s one I won’t be missing.