Drop Beats Not Bombs lead the charge as the legendary Q Club re-opens. The Q lives up to its name in more ways than one.
Though I still always came home to honed lyrics in the early nineties, I stopped going to indie clubs. Part of this conversion lay in the sheer scale and drama of the Que club in Birmingham. A former Methodist hall, it was a spiritual experience when you looked down from the upper circle about 30 feet to the teeming masses who were jerking towards the pulpit where DJs whipped out tracks which galvanised us. Working your way round the hallowed side corridors you’d suddenly discover another room of a different musical style and a smaller but equally devoted congregation, jogging to jungle, bobbing to hip hop or chilling to whales. Following a year or so of drug related melodrama from the local press, and a continual flyererd promise of ‘last club night ever’ it eventually closed, rumoured to be earmarked for conversion into yuppie flats.
Thankfully, due to the glut of urban living apartments springing up all over the city, the owners eventually gave up and four years after the club closed, the slightly re-branded ‘Q’ opened its heavy doors once more. The wave of expectation was immense, fuelled by an abundance of Facebook friends and the announcement that Drop Beats Not Bombs would host the first night. Drop Beats had over the interim years raised a reputation for hosting some of Birmingham’s biggest nights. Spurred on by the wave of youth objection to the Iraq invasion and occupation, and established to gain funds for CND, eclecticism was the priority interspersed with guest speakers and cabaret. In many ways, the one night the event resembled a mini festival, occupying venues such as the whole Sanctuary, the entire Custard Factory and most recently the whole of Brummie-superclub, Air – and its car park.
As the taxi pulls up at the Q, the queue is immense and in another ironic twist, for an event promoting world peace it felt as if it might descend into a bitter conflict. We manage to bat our press lashes and get in quickly. We work our way up to the upper level of the main hall but are disappointed to discover that the coveted upper seats are blocked by security. The hall itself, which to my distorted memory had expanded to cathedral size, suddenly feels much smaller. We pull up to a pew, sober, and try to enjoy The London Breakbeat Orchestra. Unlike other bands that contain the word orchestra in it, LBO is indeed a massive beast. Unfortunately, the sound system cannot capture this drama, largely because the string section isn’t mic’d up correctly and after three songs the gangs apologetically shuffle off the stage.
Between the hours of 10.30 and one we oscillate between feelings of dampened expectation and sheer hastle as we’re jostled around the side corridors, q-ing for the toilets or q-ing for a drink – desperately trying to grab that elusive epiphany moment. The side rooms are rammed, sweaty and the music isn’t as eclectic as I would have liked, they all seem to be cranking out drum and bass.
We go up to the chapel (which used to be the chill out room) and shake our ass to 4-4 runner and page 3 stunnah Rebekah whilst we get chatted up from seemingly every direction. Maybe drum’n’bass does have its advantages, at least when you’re jogging out to the sounds no-one can grind next to you.
When we do finally go back into the main room there is a slight heart sink that it’s another drum’n’bass effort. That’s until looking down we realise that it’s just emanating from one guy sitting on a stool playing the beats out on a drum pad. Kamoni from NYC moves away from live drums imitating a d’n’b loop and uses the technology to use the electronic sounds and occasionally take a de-constructive approach to breaking down the tracks. That said he also knows how to get the party going. With much less for the sound desk to worry about, the Q has once more come into its own.
After a beatbox interlude from Bass6, Utah Saints rock some old school tracks and great techno without applying any cheese. Their ‘What Can You Do For Me’ sits very nicely with a looped ‘No Good (Start The Dance)’ by Prodigy. It’s about 2.30 in the morning. The hassling crowds have gone and I meet up with friends I haven’t seen for years.
We go up to the upper balcony and praise the lord of dance that they’ve let us all go up to the top. Here we sit and watch the entrance of PCM escorted by Aliens (from the film Aliens) Predator (also from the film) and some girls in skimpy tops (from a local butchers). They freak out to the two chaps as they play ear tearing dirty futuristic (yes) drum’n’bass.
We start with the ‘randoms’ chat. To my right is a 17 year old boy called Liam. Tonight is his first Q and he says ‘so you’ve obviously been around a while is there anywhere else better than this?’ I honestly reply, no, not really. To my left offering my girlfriend contraband fags, is a chap about my age, he went to his first Que when he was 14. We start naming the people we’ve seen here. He beats me with David Bowie (dammit.) I’d also like to mention right here that in a room this massive that the smoking ban is completely unnecessary. I’m all for clean air but the only thing that’s going to get cancer are the pigeons in the roof. And fuck them, they’re scum. A sour touch is delivered when I see a chain over fluorescent vested security guards snaking through the crowd in an attempt to catch punters out
We descend and have a final blaze before Push DJs announce their arrival. It’s good, but it’s not drum’n’bass. In a sick twist, so attuned is my mind to accelerated, adrenaline fuelled BPM that this mashed up dance knowing hip hop feels like miming in treacle. It’s about 5:30 and suddenly the tiredness is catching up to my age. For a moment there, we were all 17.