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21 years young: How House of God has lasted the tests of time…

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21 years is some achievement and I can see how and why. The line up showed an excellent cross over of genres in the 2 rooms. The programming was really well thought out and attracted totally different crowds to each room.  Double the genres for me and double the crowd for the promoters.

Next up was Neil Landstrumm with a live set. I saw a sound guy tweaking things, which makes a nice change as most of the time levels are not changed for each DJ and someone at some point ends up sounding shite. Not so here. 

As I stand eating Pringles on the dance floor (because I am hungry and the bar has snacks) I meet 32 year old Simon, an HoG veteran who has many of the same gripes as me about clubbing these days but has a steadfast love of HoG and its older crowd.

Landstrumm plays a good solid set.  No respite or lulls in energy but also not much  in the way of variation. No hands in the air highlights but a good solid stomp none the less with the final 20mins building up into a more funky party vibe. 

Surgeon’s set held a massive amount of anticipation for me. I saw him play A LOT in my teens/early twenties and having missed every London set for nearly ten years I had hoped for a heavenly experience at Studio Spaces a couple of months ago yet found his rocking tune selection had been let down by volume restrictions. So this was the one. I had ventured outside of the M25 specifically for this set.

 

It was relentless from the very first beat, the only respite being moments of terror, a slight lull before slamming away again, with just enough swing to make you squat down, butt out, hips on the go. My ringing ears and high-pitched riffs sounded like the tracks had one foot in heaven and the bass held the other foot in hell. I was not disappointed. I was elated and deafened. Nice job Sir – well done and thanks!

Following that onslaught my ears felt like they may bleed and I had all but lost my voice so I couldn’t stick around for Blacknecks. For those that don’t know, Blacknecks are Truss and Bleaching Agent, although they rumoured themselves to be a garage duo pre-event to build some hype. I’ve heard mixed reviews and am a bit bummed out that I didn’t see the large ginger rapper that joined them with my own 2 eyes. I managed the first 5 minutes of their set and felt like I was in Super Mario brothers at warp speed and decided that the DnB room was where I needed to be. 

It smelt different in there – sweeter like everyone was sweating weed. There was more room to dance, less flashing lights and a more relaxed atmosphere. Richie Swift was on the decks and I eased into a loose-limbed jungle wing in about 3.5mins as the ragga built back up into a great D&B drop and I headed for the front. 

At this point I would like to note the people dancing around a pile of coats… usually I’d kill you for less but 1) there was enough room and 2) they put a flashing bike light on top of the pile so everyone would see it and not trip over.  I guess I’ve never seen that level of consideration before and admit I was quite impressed.

I had forgotten how much I love the deep hum of rolling sub bass and dub riffs that make me swing my arms about like Mr. Soft on speed. For quite some time I got totally lost in being 19 all over again. Even when one of the decks totally broke and he had to play one tune after the other for 20min until a replacement was found, the tune selection was spot on and I was rolling with the bass to one and following the funky mid range to the next. I actually got the teensiest bit emotional remembering all the mates I used to go to Warning with and haven’t seen for many years. I had not a care in the world and have not danced like that in a very long time. It was sublime. Hats off to Richie Swift. I’ve not heard him play before but I hope I do again.

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DJ X takes the relaxed skanking raga style set of Richie’s and goes much darker, with a touch of trance and huge buzzing bass. It sounds quite muffled, has less flow and I’m not moving like I had been. Maybe this is how D&B sounds now and that’s why I don’t like it so much anymore.  Everyone else seemed to love it but I headed back to the techno.

Resident Sir Real was on now. If I am perfectly honest from here on in I could have gone home. Hard techno like this is not my forte but it as to be said that as the genre goes, my attention was kept and the crowd was going totally nuts. I take away my personal opinion and judge this by the crowd. The manic frenzied chaos that was maxing out the speakers and busting my ears. It’s not often I want things turned down but I was struggling.

Harder Faster, Louder, More is definitely the name of the game and Sir Real smashed it with electro and hard techno then, Paul Damage came in to finish the job. Obliterated.

I ventured into a smaller third room for a couple of minutes in the hope of just getting a minute of sanity but although I heard a welcome sound of funk and sax, the bleed of sound from room 1 made it impossible to get away from.

The Duracell Bunnies in room one were still stomping away but casualties and the ridiculously tired were skirting to the edges of the room sheepishly.  Congratulations to all those who danced right through until the end. Kudos, especially the Dutch shuffler near the bar really giving it some right up to the last second when everyone around him was looking vacant and in need of their mums. 

There were far less girls at HoG than I am used to seeing out at techno nights in London these days, by a long way – maybe only 10% women at HoG. The promoter got on mic at end to thank DJ and all of us and introduce last track. I was hoping for a cheesy funny love-fest of a track but it was another off the BPM scale. A techno remix of “I Feel Love” would have been awesome but annihilation is what we got – finishing us all off good and proper.  I needed scraping up, cuddling and someone to tell me everything was going to be OK, or even better – a cup of tea. All techno’d out – it had to happen sometime!

Happy Birthday HoG. Happy Birthday toooooo youuuuuuuuuu!

Videos courtesy of Andy Pryce & Harry Meadows. Photos of 21st Birthday by Abbi Barham. Flyers and iconic shots from over the years from the promoters.

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Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer’s love affair with electronic music goes back to the mid-90s when he first began to venture into the UK’s beloved rave culture, finding himself interlaced with some of the country’s most seminal club spaces. A trip to dance music’s anointed holy ground of Ibiza in 1997 then cemented his sense of purpose and laid the foundations for what was to come over the next few decades of his marriage to the music industry.

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