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Reviewed: Calibre at XOYO Opening Night

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So, Calibre. He’s an artist that really needs little in the way of introduction, having consistently crushed it in the D&B scene for 15+ years. With a minimal social media presence but powerfully refined aesthetic, he’s been a mainstay, both in the wider scene and in my heart, for so long now.

When Signature announced that the next residency would be helmed by none other than Dominic Martin (as is Calibre’s government name), my hype levels were both literally and figuratively stratospheric. I love XOYO as a club, with its intimate main room, lovingly engineered sound system and epic (if a little dizzying) lighting rig. The idea that Dom would spend all night shelling the place down was intoxicating. And, unlike the classic crap tinder date, expectation not only matched reality, it far surpassed it.

Outside XOYO Calibre Opening Night
© Photography by Josh Hiatt www.bigboxvisuals.com

Before I get into the meat that is Calibre’s 4.5 hour set, I’ll run through the supporting acts, as both fully deserve a mention.

The supporting acts, who came in the form of DJ Flight in the main room and Om Unit in room 2, could easily have propped up a lineup on their own. It was my first time seeing either (yeah yeah I know, shame on me) and both did not disappoint. Flight took the reigns for the first two hours in room 1, laying down what was essentially a Calibre tribute set and paying homage to the man’s upbeat funky style. Coming correct with tight af mixes, she worked through Dom’s back catalogue with highlights including ‘Alone In A Crowd’, from the seminal ‘Overflow’ LP, and that TEED remix.

Om Unit had the distinction of holding down room 2 all night and, truth be told, I didn’t spend too much time in there, distracted by Calibre being the best Calibre but, for the moments I did spend in there, I was nothing but impressed. Every time I went up he was playing something different, ranging from dub to hip-hop to dubstep to 150bpm hardcore and finally ending up on jungle. Anyone can slam two tunes together, especially in the digital age, but it takes someone special to pull off a several hours, multi-genre set that touches the deep depths of each genre. It turns out Om Unit is that special someone.

Crowd shot XOYO
© Photography by Josh Hiatt www.bigboxvisuals.com

Ok so, Calibre. Wow. I like to think that I’m a seasoned veteran when it comes to D&B, but that set really blew me away. Aside from one very notable highlight (we’ll circle back around to that), I didn’t recognise a single track he played. Starting with some halfstep flavours, working into some more uptempo, amen based, broken beat tunes and then giving the people what they wanted in the form of those funky, rolling Calibre tracks. It was a workout of exactly how good liquid D&B can be. There were a few curveballs, like some of his darker tracks that ranged from subby and rolling to all out audio warfare.

© Photography by Josh Hiatt www.bigboxvisuals.com

No one can do it like Calibre. Anyone else leaving tunes in for so long would be instantly pilloried but it’s a testament to how good the man’s tunes are that it didn’t get boring at any point. Instead, it was a perfect journey through the unreleased catalogue of a producer who fully deserves his top tier status, and one that ended on the absolutely incredible alternative London Grammar remix we love so much. Also, and for the first time in my life, yelling one more tune actually worked and he treated the crowd with what I am informed is a new tune with Tyler Daly and DRS, coming out later this year.

Crowd shot Calibre XOYO
© Photography by Josh Hiatt www.bigboxvisuals.com

To summarise: music was on point, all night in all rooms. The crowd was perfect, not too busy, with many older heads, respectful fans and more women than the Andy C residency last year. All in all, one of the best D&B nights I’ve ever been to.

Grab tickets to future Calibre nights here

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