LOUCHE 5TH BIRTHDAY w/ RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY
Plan B, Brixton | November 24th
The Leeds-based Louche team chalked up a resounding victory on their 5th birthday. After years of grafting away up North, Louche decided to stage two nights for their 4th birthday last year: one at ‘home’ (Mint Club, Leeds) and one ‘away’ (some warehouse space in London). It was such a success they booked similar fixtures this year, with another batch of marque signings financed by the RBMA warchest: Steffi and Detroit Swindle for Leeds; DJ Sprinkles, Henrik Schwarz, Braiden and Mr Solid Gold for London; and Move D for both, all backed up by the Louche residents.
They opted to stage the away leg at Brixton’s Plan B. We arrived just as Josh T’s set was finishing, slow and melodic deep house warming up a decently-sized (if a bit vibe-less) room one. But then we noticed Louche’s/Plan B’s major unforced error. Needing to strip off our coats, we made for the cloakroom downstairs. Our path, however, was blocked: club-goers were losing their heads, piling-in from all directions, creating a bottle-necked corridor of uncertainty at the bottom of the stairs that didn’t seem to resolve itself all night. Tackling the logistics for cloakrooms may not be as headline-grabbing as signing the major players, but this kind of thing is bread-and-butter stuff for running a good club; the poor staff had a torrid time amid much barracking from the stands.
Still cloaked but confident Louche would bounce back from these early fumbles, we headed back upstairs to watch everyone’s favourite player-intellectual, DJ Sprinkles. He was on whimsical form, playing a softly melodic and subtle set, coaxing the crowd into letting-down their I-don’t-dance defences. After building up to a harder, more percussive attack, Sprinkles subbed himself off and Henrik Schwarz stepped-up.
The substitution inspired an immediate change of atmosphere (and, indeed, of volume). Schwarz went in for a crowd-pleasing set, treating the fans to familiar tracks like his own remixes of Jal Emmanuel’s Kuar and The Detroit Experiment’s Think Twice, proving, once again, that it’s possible to rave to jazz. There was a little experimentation with new material, including Paul Kalkbrenner’s Der Buhold, but generally this was a no-nonsense, entertaining, concerted spell of dance floor pressure from someone with little to prove to his increasingly small band of detractors.
The highlight for us, though, was Move D. The diminutive Messi-alike has been playing at different clubs across the globe for years, and that wealth of experience shone through. Lesser-known material like Bookworms’ African Rhythms sat comfortably next to old favourites like St Germain’s Thank U Mum (4 Everything You Did); tactically, he played a blinder, building and then releasing pressure to dramatic effect. Braiden, who was playing in room two at the same time, faced an uphill struggle but kept hold of his crowd extremely well given the starrier, Premier League talent in room one.
The slight issues with the cloakroom meant we haven’t quite run out of superlatives for Louche. But it was a great performance nonetheless. At the end of the day, everyone on Team Louche thought both inside and outside of box, and made it happen once again on unfamiliar turf; they’ve truly reached house music’s top table.
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Words: Robert Bates
Photos: LE EA