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Blog Club Review

Subculture with Ten Walls (LIVE) – Sub Club, Glasgow

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Going clubbing in a new place is always a bit of a worry – ‘What’s the crowd going to be like?’ ‘What about the venue?’ ‘Any afters on hand?’ are all questions that occur to anyone who’s off their patch, but Glasgow seems like a city that takes its good times seriously and various Glasgow clubbers I’ve met over the years talk about ‘the Subbie’ with tones of reverence that any long-term dancefloor denizen will recognise. The reason some places always get the nod is because they never let you down…

The Sub Club itself is a medium-sized venue with a 400 capacity and also boasts a Bodysonic dancefloor, just like fabric, which I had not been expecting… but it was a welcome surprise, much like everything else about my first trip to Subculture, the Sub’s 20-year-old Saturday night house session, featuring the now-legendary James ‘Harri’ Harrigan and Domenic Cappello. There are guests too, like Innervisions’ Ten Walls, who played live, but this night is really all about the residents. This is Harri & Dom’s house; they’re just renting out space to a selection of close musical associates… that’s both the clubbers and the guest DJs, by the way.

A good house night always feels like a family affair, I believe. So wherever you go, it will always feel a bit familiar. As I walked down the stairs of the Sub (the best clubs reside in basements, I firmly believe) I started getting ‘that’ feeling, even though it was early doors, not even midnight yet. Something was in the air – that sense of expectation you get around an established night, where the regulars are ready for the good times they know are ahead and visitors, like myself, are wondering just what’s in store…

I’d been warned by a regular ‘Harri & Dom do the best warm-up set you’ve ever heard’ and I’ve heard them both do their thing before, when they travelled to London and played a Sunday afternoon set at the South Place Hotel in Moorgate (which is managed by an old Sub Club pal of theirs) last summer . And while that was very, very good, it wasn’t the Sub. The sound is so crisp in here that you could probably have a conversation without straining your voice (or ears) even at the core of the dancefloor. I’m no ‘audiophile’, but anyone can tell that this kind of clarity has got to be a good thing. 

I’ve also seen Harri & Dom do their thing at Dance Tunnel in Dalston when they launched their new quarterly London Subculture residency (which they’ve not done before, though both are no strangers to playing London clubs individually). But while that was good preparation, you always get the best out of a DJ when they’re on home ground…especially when they’re the guys behind one of the longest running weekly residencies in dance music, in the UK and beyond.

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Dom’s on when we get in and have a look around the club, checking out the already quaking bodysonic dancefloor and noting the fact that the Sub is, basically, just a big square dancefloor with a bar and some chill-out space around it. Well, what more do you need? A Basement A Red Light and a Feeling said Kerri Chandler back in 1992 and he could have been talking about the Sub (which he loves, having played at the venue’s 20th anniversary, back in 2007). Dom gets things going with some warm, propulsive house as things are already starting to build and the place is already starting to fill as he hands over to Harri around midnight.

Harri then takes it deeper and more driving, holding the club firmly in the palm of his hand as he propels his dancefloor effortlessly with deep, driving rhythms. Though Harri & Dom are such a long- standing partnership, both have definite styles and this is a good chance to see both at play before the guest artist comes on… though I start to wonder where Ten Walls will, in fact, perform, as though the Sub has what one of the regulars call a ‘generous’ DJ booth – allowing Harri & Dom room to maneuverer and to oversee the dancefloor while staying close to it, like any good DJs should – if he’s playing a live set he’s going to need some space…

My question is answered when the stage at the opposite end of the club becomes the focus at the end of Harri’s set at around half past one and Ten Walls, aka Marijus Adomaitis, performs from there as the lights go up on him and he’s confronted with a wall of clubbers which has to be one of the densest masses of raving flesh I’ve ever seen, in over ten years of going out. He opens with his breakout hit, Gotham, from his EP of the same name, plus later on my personal favourite of his, Requiem, which threatens to make the whole room into a sweaty jack-fest from which there will be no recovery…

Then when Ten Walls is done with his hour-long set of heavy yet melodic house & techno, werking in and out of his own material and getting a lot of appreciation from a thoroughly locked-in crowd, Dom takes control to end the night with another set of storming sounds, a bit tougher and in (melodic) techno territory this time around as befits the end of the night – which comes at 3am, standard for Glasgow and more recently for London as well, as the Council have their say. But these early finishes mean that the vibes are distilled into a more focussed session, I’m told, with that certainly the case here. I tend to think that the residents should always be the ones who end a night, so it’s appropriate that big Dom was on the wire again, ending a with DJ Skull’s Don’t Stop The Beat, a high-speed chaotic-yet-controlled techno track that had the crowd bubbling with anticipation, a bit of old school flavour with Detroit’s Eddie ‘Flashin’Folkes, on his recent production, Something Special, which thumps away with a classic, pounding kick, evocative horns and a vocal refrain chanting ‘special’ over and over  and then, finally, Neville Watson’s remix of Brad Peterson’s Virtual Headspace , which is coming out on his label, Seventh Sign Recordings.  The fact that these tracks are all contemporary and yet sound authentic says a lot about Subculture, The Sub and Harri & Dom in particular. Moving forward while still respecting your past, these guys prove the old adage that fashions may change, but style remains. 

Words: Manu Ekanayake

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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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