Requiem's Not Quite Halloween Ball: Reviewed
Reported by SunnyAli
Submitted 23-11-09 10:35
Over the years there’s been many a dearly departed soul from our scene. Remembering those loved ones and praising hard house to the high heavens, HarderFaster sent correspondent SunnyAli to the centre of underground music, Club 414, to hear a ten hour Requiem.
You know it's a good night out when you promise yourself you will only be there an hour and end up staying almost seven. I got entirely carried away at Requiem's Not Quite Halloween Ball, held on Saturday 24 October, and have nothing but praise for DJ and producer Dave Curtis and his allies for creating it. Held on the last Saturday of every other month (26 February; April; June; October; etc) at the newly renovated Club 414 in Brixton for the last 18 months now, it has a fantastic formula of talented DJs, fitting venue and inspiring music, and it works like a dream.
Club 414 may have a hell of a reputation among anyone who has frequented the afterparty scene in London in the past, but against all the odds it has now brushed up as a petite yet perfectly formed soundbox of a venue. Requiem fits superbly into it; the sound is good quality; it has chilled security, a fantastic rooftop terrace smoking area, sofas and an easy to access bar. The place filled up comfortably from around midnight and when I staggered homewards shortly before 6am it was still heaving – I'm reliably informed the dancefloor was still rocking after 10am.
The NQHB initially caught my eye for the frankly crippling lineup of the hardest hard house scene's best emerging DJs and producers – including Dave Owens, Riggsy and Adam M – and because it was keeping the floor open from 10pm to 10am. Anyone who survived the dancefloor until that kind of closing time must get a medal and some sort of pension, I figured, and dashed along for a closer look.
The DJs that played are a genuinely hardworking bunch – all credit to them, they all have their fingers in multiple musical pies and it really showed in the quality of their sets. As well as Requiem, Dave Curtis runs the label Caterpillar Trax with Batten & Brow; Dave Owens, Riggsy and Gem Stone are all prolific and acclaimed producers and label owners; Adam M successfully juggles the Hi Oktane events and Oktane label brands from his base in Leeds, Ben Townsend is Andy Farley's protege and Shenton and LT1 are regulars in the Midlands, holding residencies at Shine and Hellbound. It was a great opportunity to see them all playing together in London, too – they're spread across the country. Clearly they don't get much rest at weekends...
On arrival on the night we found Batten & Brow, warming up the floor with a slick set of chunky, funky-edged hard house tracks including several by James Nardi: Welcome to the Jungle and Huggy Bear (James Nardi and Julian Dwyer) went down well. I caught Lisa Lashes' Looking Good in there too – it was a great set that had everyone keeping their eyes on the DJ booth.
Next up was the only girl on the lineup for the night - Gem Stone. Gem, who has released more than 40 tracks in the last three years, has won DJ comps across the country, been featured on Toolbox compilations, hosts a weekly examplefm.net radio show and owns and manages her own label, Raw Power Recordings, is on a on an impressive route to success through her productions and performances across the country. This set saw her taking the tempo smoothly up a few more notches, playing a mix of her own tracks – favourites included Surrogate (With Steve Hewitt & Paul J) and Yum Yum, and several of the collaborations of recent months such as her remix (with Steve Hewitt) of Pump up the Volume and Wayne Smart & Phatt Beats Vs James Nardi – Drop It (Stone & Hewitt Remix). It was tightly mixed in her perfectly calm style and got some seriously appreciative whistles and yells from the crowd.
Gem handed over to Ben Townsend, another committed producer we were highly anticipating. He's been in the studio with top-of-the-game producers such as Andy Farley, Defective Audio and Tom Parr but has also released material in collaboration with others on the line-up such as Riggsy and Dave Owens. As if twelve hours of Requiem wasn’t enough, he was also enthusing about getting back into the studio the following Monday for more tune-making.... Knowing about his production reputation meant our expectations were high, but he didn't disappoint, throwing down an addictive mix of new tracks and classic remixes including Fruity Goodness (Ben Townsend & Crampo); I Need You (SJ and Baby Doc, Glazby & Maddox remix) and Defective Audio's Renegade Blaster. It was a fantastic, high energy set that saw the club fill up and people glue themselves happily to the dancefloor.
Following Ben's prepping Dave Owens took the floor, instantly recognisable when he started playing thanks to his trademark crazy thrashing rolling basslines. Despite being an active producer – he's half of Munkjack (with Frank Farrell), owner of the Turtledog label and star pupil in the school of Nik Denton and Marc Johnson, he's been Djing a lot longer than he's been making music, and played a tight, slick set.
Maybe because there's just such a huge volume of music produced and released these days – and because like all the DJs on show at Requiem, they have far more than your average DJ at their fingertips to choose from – it was tough to catch many of the tunes he played, but we did hear him drop Free to Burn and his TurtleDog track Cinnabon in there. He also hit out with some excellent classics – we didn't expect but were exceptionally pleased to hear Hooked by 99th Floor Elevators in there.
Adam M followed, for the 3:30-5:00am set; we weren't expecting a let-up in the pace, and didn't get one... Adam, who had come down from Leeds for the event, has been running his own immensely successful events under the Hi Oktane brand for the last year featuring lineups including Paul Glazby, Ben Stevens, Rodi Style, Karim and James Nardi. He's brought the noise down to London a few times too, most recently hosting the superb filth foyer at Frantic's Hard House Academy in October. On top of all this he's the proud owner of the rather filthy Oktane Recordings, which releases tunes by top producers such as Justin Bourne and Pocock as well as Adam's own tracks.
He's got an excellent track record (geddit) himself, having produced with everyone from Dom Sweeton to Paul Maddox, and his mixing is perfect, but he confused us towards the end of what was a banging set by playing a lot of pretty old tracks – everything from Legend B's Lost in Love to Glazby and Farley's My House. While as a bit of a veteran I don't mind hearing tracks from 2003 / 2004, and many of the clubbers may not have known how old they were, I couldn't help feeling that there's so much excellent new material out now – including on his own label – to easily fill a set without reaching for the classics?
With ears ringing and legs aching we braced ourselves for the arrival of Riggsy – the hyperactive, obsessively prolific producer / engineer / live performance master / genre-busting guru making his name extremely fast in hard house as well as leaving his mark in many others (two step garage anyone? Hardcore? eek). He was brilliant. He's an accomplished musician and plays the full range of instruments and in a metal band in whatever spare time these DJs have, and records his own guitar solos for use in hard house tracks. He visibly enjoyed the set though the mixing took up little of his attention – you can see why the far more taxing process of live PA sets attracts him – and played the ultimate classy high speed filth set. Sadly, again it was hard to know many of the tracks he played, but we caught The Toucher (Dave Curtis & Jersey vs Riggsy) and 50,000 Watts (Superfast Oz) in there. A real pleasure to watch, thoroughly recommended!
Following a set like that was always going to be a hard task, but next up, taking the 6:30-8:00am set, was Dave Curtis, Requiem's organiser and rock solid DJ and producer. With the dancefloor still rammed and the people apparently oblivious to the time or the damage they were doing to their ears or the cartilage in their limbs, he launched into a typically seamless and stylish set including top tracks Copy Cat by Defective Audio, First Rebirth by Andy Farley and Base Graffiti, and his own track Pacman.
At this point, thoroughly broken, we mooched off to go have a bath and nurse our pulled tendons, but I have it on excellent authority that at half ten in the morning (yes, that's actually the time) the floor was still full and friends of mine were still dancing around with big grins on their faces. I can see why – Requiem is a smart concept, very well worked out and in just the right venue for the music and the audience. With the next event expected in late December or possibly early January, I'm a fully paid-up member of the fan club and want to see the night grow and grow.
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For more info:
The 414 website
Raw Power Recordings
Photos courtesy of the HarderFaster archive. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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Other Features By SunnyAli:
Darude's whirlwind decade
No sleep for Rachel Auburn
In the Presence of Carl Nicholson
Frantic Timeless 8 – totally worth ruining Valentine's Day for...
It's like Origami, but with power tools..... One Awsum Xmas Party reviewed
The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.