London based Ghost Culture was warming up the crowd when we arrived at 11:30pm. Easing ourselves in, we went to sit in the outdoor bar for a bit initially. It’s there as a smoking area but it is so much more than that – a decked space with canvas canopy and fairy lights, sofas, chairs, tables and a bar all of its own. Oval Space’s outdoor areas are a cut above the standard in other London clubs – no barriers out on the pavement and moody bouncers telling you to keep the noise down here. You can smoke, gossip and drink to your hearts content. Added to this is of course the decadent balcony that runs the length of the club – for you to watch a sunrise from should you have remembered your shades and the weather is good. The view is admittedly of two huge gas towers but in the dawn light even they look strangely beautiful.
The last time I was here the main room had been sectioned off by drapes a third of the way down and there had been staging along the back and both sides of the dance floor, as well as behind the decks. This time around the floor was totally open (no drapes or staging) with all focus on the stage at one end – the DJs were down at floor level leaving space behind them for the Subverticul installation, which stood draped in black cloths to be revealed later on.
Ghost Culture’s fluid electronica filled the space nicely, creating a warm friendly atmosphere. Nothing was too imposing and even the tougher beats kept an element of laid back feel to them. It was a very pleasant set – it didn’t set my world on fire but it did set a great tone for the rest of the night.
At 12:30am Tiga took to the decks and I readied myself for an all out hands in the air party – which didn’t really happen. I had not seen Tiga DJ before but I own a fair few of his tracks, collaborations and remixes of his tunes. I may have had massively high expectations based on these releases that I whole-heartedly adore. I was dancing to Sunglasses At Night in my university days in 2001 and have been a fan ever since. As the venue filled up, the chilled pace at which Tiga played for the first hour of his set almost became background noise as people stood half dancing, half chatting. I was a bit disheartened initially but the set crept up very subtly, getting darker and moodier in the second hour, building into a rich, sleazy electro tinged dancefest. He may have been slow to start but by the time he was done Tiga had the dance floor moving nicely, ending the final half hour with broken electro bass, snares and a real old school dance vibe. We were now prepped and ready for Audion’s live show Subverticul.
There were a few seconds of dead air as the black drapes were torn down to reveal… a giant designer lampshade containing Matthew Dear (Audion). The structure is a make up of many overlaid A’s edged in colour changing LEDs that pulse and change to the beats. It’s a lovely looking thing.
Matt Dear is just ear candy, eye candy – in fact – just the whole damn sweet shop. A very deep bass hum and swirly soundscape opened the show with some sinister, heavily effected vocals and then the journey began….
The volume had been turned up and a series of bass shuddering revs launched us for disco take off as geometric graphics projected onto triangular screens either side of the dome and the LED’s on the dome sent coloured waves across it. Fat sumptuous electro bass and the tss tss of snares brought together an eclectic but well placed array of electronic sounds.
One thing I find with most live sets is that they feel like one long track. Many artists fail to really do much more than work along one train of thought and it’s easy to get boring very quickly by sticking to variations of the same phrase or limiting the sound pallet to only a few notes and tones. Audon’s Subverticul show was well paced and had very definite “tracks” within it, moving through moods and styles from filthy heavy and dark to a balancing light, disco, electro vibe to take the edge off.
If I had to come up with a metaphor for the general feel of it all – something that will take you to the dance floor from this page, I’d say imagine yourself on an intergalactic holiday road trip, making stops, exploring different places in space, revving up the rockets to take off after a short disco pit stop, ramping up tension as you battle traffic jams and then coasting along the galaxy highway with the top down and the stars in your eyes. It was a journey through an ultra glam, quirky, glockenspiel smattered, Fifth Element style world. Uber cool, uber chic, effortlessly engaging.
There were distant sexy electro vocals, steamy chugging beats that just had enough momentum to push you from one languid beat to the next, building up with a siren wail and low pulsing sub bass – high end shakers lifting you through to the next beautiful build up of percussion and melodies, mid range sweeping through like an epic wind swirling in the background. The build ups and drops in this set were immense, finally powering down to a slow crawl of a finish and the fastest exit from a stage I have ever seen from a DJ – not really even stopping to wait for applause – which was quite odd.
My only gripe was that it needed to be a bit louder and that the set requires a lot more sub bass from the sound system. I could hear it on the fringes adding a great dimension to the set but you knew that really you wanted it rumbling right through your insides for the full effect. I also felt that the overall stage installation looked pretty but that it needed a lot more to it to really be something new and innovative. The music aside, we were staring a giant designer lampshade with flashing LEDs on it and the same old abstract style projections to music that you can find anywhere. The tunes though – awesome.
Andhim kicked off their set at the same energy level Audion finished on. No break in the sound, no building up the set, just straight on in there with a swift transition into some melodic deep house worthy of some shoulder moving action.
I felt like I do when it’s clear blue skies outside for the first time in spring, when its warm enough to leave your jacket at home and bounce down the street taking clean fresh air into your lungs and feeling glad to be alive. Just happy for happiness’ sake and without a care in the world. I will definitely be seeing Andhim again. Just really lovely, moderately paced house tunes with wonderous build-ups and sunset break-downs. Graceful, beautiful sounds full of joy and hip swingingness and smiles. We danced through soulful female vocals, deep house, the minimal and fabulous sounds of M.A.N.D.Y vs Booka Shade’s Body Language and then swung into some seriously funky beats that were all out Groove Armada-esque before we left at 5am.