Reviewed: Summer-ized Sessions – Secret Garden Rave
“Summer is a state of mind”, I’ve often said. From ice lollies on a cold day, to shorts and sandals in the snow, it’s a longstanding ideology that’s kept me in good stead all these years. So imagine my increased elation when House/Tech club night “Summer-ized Sessions” comes around, providing solid Bass & upfront House grooves, offering that sun-shone heat-wave feeling all year long!
Starting life as a mix-CD, through weekly radio shows, to regular club nights all over the world, it’s pretty safe to say Summer-ized Sessions is an established brand in its own right. Attracting some of the biggest and best names in the House and Techno scenes respectively, this consistently high-quality event never yields: vibes and music in full force.
Its first date in The Steelyard (tucked-in unassumingly between Cannon Street, Monument, and London Bridge) saw almost a thousand young partygoers bop their hardest on a dance-floor packed-out from fairly early on in the night ‘til the early hours of the next morning. First up was Sucasa head-honcho, Kalix, whose cheeky House vibes returned to Summer-ized from their AfterDark sessions back in August, bringing a well-placed Balearic daytime feel to proceedings here. Shortly after, as numbers swiftly began to swell, Donna Love’s juicy selection of reinforced classics – of both underground and not-so-mainstream persuasions – brought about a joyous carefreeness (yes, that’s a word!), expanding her predecessor’s ‘bump’ into a full on ‘bounce’ – with notable appearances from a Tech House reinvention of Sister Nancy’s “Bam Bam”, along with Da Hool’s “Meet Her At Love Parade” – and if you saw the Snapchat feed, you’ll have heard how loudly I expressed my sentiments during that!
Whether you’re a DJ or a partygoer, you’ll know that one of the most important parts of getting a night right is the warm-up: “if you get that right, you’ll have them eating outta your hand!”, I found myself saying [yet again] to an unsuspecting member of the crowd, having bumped posteriors in celebration of such a warm and loving energy in the room. We high-fived as the drop arrived, and exchanged pouts to mark the juddering immensity of the moment. At not even midnight, I knew this was set to be a memorable evening from here on.
Between tunes, I managed to catch up with resident Karuva ahead of his stint and asked him for a spoiler-free take on his intentions for the evening. “Erm, I like to keep it a little different, really…”, he said with an understated tone about him, as we stood there discussing the difference between wanting to play a track and actually playing it out. The particular piece in question was a remix of ‘Seven Nation Army’ he was keen to drop… which he did… successfully! Shaping a now-packed dance-floor, complete with sprinkled selections of Garage-tinted takes on some of the more contemporary numbers – not to mention a ‘nawty’ remix of French funktronicist Mr. Oizo’s “Flat Beat” – his set was an all-around well-tuned balance of floor shredding beat-ery and actual music.
After some time back in camp Techno (and triumphant Tech House), it was over to another of the Summer-ized residents, Kieren Lythgow for more meandering into a heightened corner of the Tech and House realms. As well as dropping a great number of bangers, a cheeky bit of Acid, an exclusive promo from the aforementioned Kalix, and what felt like a remix of Egyptian Empire’s “The Horn Track”, what struck me most about the brimming dance-floor was the fact that the area next to it (which hosted the bar) was surprisingly spacious: the crowd were deliberately packing themselves into an already full arena just to experience the vibe and, well, rave out! – reinforcing the fact that this was a party whose energy had been optimised by everyone involved, without even having hit the halfway point.
So far, it’d been an eye-opening experience for me, finally getting the chance to witness for myself a party that I had very much been aware of for years. Summer-ized Sessions was clearly making good work of everything they’d achieved so far, and at the top of it all was Label Head [and next on the bill], Shane Fernandes.
A winning combination of crowd-pleasing vocals over body-shakin’ beats was in full force here, coupled with my immense gratitude (as a dance-floor enthusiast) for putting on such an incredible event. What was already a night full of warm energy, somehow managed to ascend to new heights when the man himself graced the staged, pre-headliner. Pushing the music into more euphoric and melodic territory, the beaming smile on his face was matched only by the intensity of the vibe out on the floor, excitable screams in abundance! Even before dropping a solid rework of Underworld’s “Born Slippy”, the crowd were clearly in their element throughout his set. Turning around to behold it for myself, I looked back on the throng and was reminded of a publicity shot for a festival in 2001: from the front of a heaving crowd, joy & exasperation painted in equal measure across a sea of adulated faces.
Of course, as I said before, the warm-up is integral to any night; and with headliner DeMarzo now poised to perform, the soul of the night was tight, and crunch time was upon us. Unsurprisingly, what followed was two hours of aural enchantment: through Tribal vibes, deep grooves, solid basslines, and so much more. Having shared a few words with him prior to his set, talking about the last four years, 93 Feet East, and his new album – some of which he premiered during the night – it dawned on me that a lot of what made this event (and no doubt ones before and after) so satisfying was that there were no egos here: every DJ was here to enjoy the night, and humbly make the most of the given company. Such a fact says a lot about an event, but also the people organising it, and the talent hired to perform. Speaking of which…
To close such an incredible night would be a daunting prospect for anyone: the pressure of how to follow a headliner has been a longstanding point of debate in green rooms, VIP sections, and afterparties across time and space – no, really! So to be charged with the task of coming on after such a superlative evening of entertainment and energy would not be the envy of any DJ. However, it was here that Summer-ized regular Liam Moriarty took such a challenge to new and unforeseeable heights, somehow managing to still keep the vibe fresh as ever until closing – figuring in time to drop some classic Garage [in the form of Industry Standard’s “I Refuse”], and a track that generally made my entire night, involuntarily roaring my loudest at [Sonny Wharton’s remix of a Todd Terry classic], again re-establishing the night’s eclectic musical openness.
It should go without saying that this was one of the best nights out I’ve experienced in a while. The glittering masses boppin’ and shakin’ to eight hours of well-paced, House-based, upfront-ery, mesmerising décor, and a wonderfully optimised sound would be enough. Yet, with a personal highlight being that in the midst of the darker House shuffles, the syncopated Minimalism, and casually awe-inspiring toughness of it all, a dubby break appeared, landing well, and refreshing the palate perfectly, to keep the crowd both satiated as well as fiendin’ for more. It is here, in the broad spectrum of musical persuasions, that the Summer-ized Sessions succeed where so many others fail.
Summer-ized will return in Shoreditch AfterDark Sessions 27.07.18
Get tickets here