Clwb Ifor Bach | Cardiff | June 22nd
Boom: Cardiff doesn’t get lineups like this very often. Arch rockabilly techno vampire Andrew Weatherall rubbing shoulders with two of the most respected tune-selectors on the circuit – Ben UFO and Braiden – plus the soulful sounds of wunderkind Floating Points all in one sweaty Clwb Ifor Bach? It was never likely to be disappointing, but the sheer range of top-level house, techno and disco on display was a lesson in club night dynamics: an audio feast lapped up by a salivating crowd.
Despite the current (very welcome) trend for DJs who play across multiple genres, watching an Andy Weatherall set reminds you that the man is an eclectic DJ in the true sense of the word: he ploughs more furrows than a set of badgers tunnelling under a garden fence (the garden fence of dance music, that is). Weatherall long ago mastered the obvious (but yet somehow elusive) art of DJing: have slightly better tunes than your audience. There’s no smoke and mirrors with Weatherall, and he doesn’t lean on a stream of upfront, fresher-than-fresh exclusives. Instead, he digs deep and holds the crowd with a string of leftfield, disco-edged, but rumbling house and techno, a strategy that the waif-like genius Ben UFO also deploys to perfection.
Having earned himself a reputation as perhaps the best live DJ to emerge from the post-dubstep bonfire of genres, Ben UFO encapsulates the essence of forward-thinking club music in 2012: zip seamlessly in and out of half a dozen sub-styles of music in a single set, without making it sound messy, chaotic or like anything as vulgar as a ‘mashup’. So we get soft synths, stalking bass lines, pounding percussive beats and an infectious energy that can only be generated by a DJ who loves doing what they do.
The productions of jazz-steppin’ Floating Points sit somewhere between the connoisseur classiness of Francois K and a more dancefloor-oriented Bonobo, but his live set in Cardiff is like a Greg Wilson special dispatch, packed with loose-limbed disco energy that keeps the doors of Clwb open past its usual bedtime. Interestingly – considering three of the four DJs on the bill tonight are associated with two-step’s renaissance – the garage dynamic is nowhere to be found.
If there’s one complaint about the scheduling of the event, its that the slightly harder-edged styles of Weatherall and Ben UFO (the stars of the show) are a bit of a tough act for the fluffier Floating Points to follow – but this is minor downside in an otherwise exemplary exercise in top-flight British DJs (young and not-so-young) flexing their musical muscles.
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Words: Adam Corner