Category Archives: club

Q Club, Birmingham 14th September 2007

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.


Deep Fried Funk, Halloween, Derry

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On ‘Hallow Eve’ 30,000 souls descend on Derry city for the UK’s biggest Halloween celebration. As the full-moon gets high and the streets are strewn with snogging teenagers and smashed alcopops, the monster mash-up gets transferred to the Nerve Centre. Even in the club your costume stays on; if you’re not dressed up, you get a dressing down. Fancy dress here in Derry is all about being commended for toil, not making trouble.  

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Creep back… I’m not-so-easy-jetting it to Derry the next day and I still don’t have any fancy dress sorted. Into the breach leaps my girlfriend who suggested I borrow her dad’s long leather jacket. Okay, so I’m thinking, Matrix, Lost Boys, (white) Blade but know that getting fake guns and samurai knives through customs might be a bit of a problem. Checking in on-line I realise that this isn’t the half of it. I can’t even take make-up and or any kind of gel, hairspray, or wax. Hmmm isn’t it going to look like me (generic indie kid) – wearing a Goth’s jacket.   We land in Derry and I’m wearing my jacket because it’s cold and it would have meant a 5 euro levy if I’d have had it weighed. ‘What are you going as?’ I’m asked in the car from the airport. ‘Umm at the moment you’re looking at it…’ Thankfully the kids toy store in the retail park has some half-price werewolf teeth 

Walking to our hotel we see people of every age, dressed up and skipping towards the banks of the Foyle. We watch the fireworks from the balcony of the hotel and by the time we head into town it’s taken a turn for the terrifying. The town now belongs to the teenager. Snow White stumbles from a camouflaged gorilla (yes a gorilla) and points at me who’s stunned by the carnage.  ‘You know who you look like?’ 

‘Erm, no tell me.’ ‘That there, Jamiroquai.’  

‘Really?’ ‘I love Jamiroquai.’ 

‘Right,’ I can’t be bothered to point out the obvious ‘Jay Kay is the lead singer – Jamiroquai is the band’ tack and wonder how scary Jay Kay should be. I pop my teeth in, strike a pointy pose and growl. Over by the cash point, Wonder Woman is cold. Her boyfriend, Osama Bin Laden is fired up. He attempts to put his tea-towel on her shoulders but she rejects it.    

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Inside the Nerve Centre things are much calmer. In fact, the atmosphere is a beautiful freakish harmony. Regulars of Deep Fried Funk play host to the friendliest sounds: ghoul dances with ghost, witch with wizard, soldier with 40’s gangster, pimp with prossy, cowgirl with chainsaw wielding Karate Kid. In broadest bogside a ‘female Rambo’ asks me “What’s this? Where’s your fucking costume?”  

I suddenly realise I’ve disposed of all my props. I hastily put my coat back on, get my shades and teeth out my pocket, and mumble something about Matrix, Lost Boys before rendering myself inaudible with my werewolf teeth. She destroys my costume with a single stare. “Try fucking harder next time.” 

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No matter. The party in the back room is in full swing as Deep Fried regular Paul Hamill is switching with other regular Pepzi. The crowd are fizzing and staring at his freaky contacts which he insists are due to injecting bleach into his eyes. I have a proper boogie to a Peter, Bjorn and John remix and then get picked up with a spurt of northern soul which carries me through to the main act.   

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Ralph Lawson is on the main stage dressed as a Dead Presidents skeleton. He has plenty of bodies to ‘go with.’ His on-stage bouncing exacerbates his menace as he twists up the electro funk. Blink and you’ll miss Jedi Middleton on stage without a costume. You see, the crowd is mind-tricked by his Cosmos sound of right- sided smashers and underground steppers. Lights come up alarmingly too soon at two am, where the party is taken back, out into the street and once more round the town.

Photos by David Bowen   


Deep Fried Funk (31st October)

My cut for IDJ…

On ‘Hallow Eve’ 30,000 souls descend on Derry city for the
UK’s biggest Halloween celebration. As the full-moon gets high and the streets are strewn with snogging teenagers and smashed alco-pops, the monster mash-up gets transferred to the Nerve Centre. Even in the club your costume stays on; if you’re not dressed up, you get a dressing down. Fancy dress here in Derry is all about being commended for toil, not making trouble.
  In fact, the atmosphere is a beautiful freakish harmony. Regulars of Deep Fried Funk play host to the friendliest sounds: ghoul dances with ghost, witch with wizard, soldier with 40’s gangster, pimp with prossy, Osama Bin Laden with Wonder Woman.  Ralph Lawson is on the main stage dressed as a Dead Presidents skeleton. He has plenty of bodies to ‘go with.’ His on-stage bouncing exacerbates his menace as he twists up the electro funk. Blink and you’ll miss Jedi Middleton on stage without a costume. You see, the crowd is mind-tricked by his Cosmos sound of right- sided smashers and underground steppers. Lights come up alarmingly too soon at two am, where the party is taken back, out into the street and once more round the town.

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Photos by Paula Gillespe


Intrigue (29th Sept 06)

Although it had a break over the summer, it would be a mistake to think Intrigue is a student night. Within the red cushioned confines of the subterranean Dojo Lounge I spot rock-headz, bloc-headz, greazy-headz, cheezy-headz, read-headz, dead-headz, smacked-headz, jacked-headz; all of them are here to worship the futuristic skull shaped Metalheadz.  

Yes, crowned grand-mistress of Drum and Bass: DJ Storm is whipping up the club with strong support coming from a bunch of kung-fu monks. Intrigue has returned to the Dojo fighting fit. 

First, we experience the fitness of Witness. He flexes his musical muscles with a varied amount of progressive beats and FSOL re-rack of Papa New
Guinea as swan song. Next up Invaderz knocks up the soundsystem a notch so that we can hear the back beat as well as the tinny hi-hat. As Commix opens, I get the impression we’re due to go manically organic. We’re certainly in studied
Cambridge mode as the bell ringing brilliance of “When Pilots Eject” calls us all in. Before getting proper Donnie Darko with the twisted sonic depth of “Talk To Frank.” This Metalheadz release allows another notch on the mixer and sets the perfect volume-barometer for Storm.
 

Tempted by the smell of barbequing meat and to collect some vox pops, we go outside and immediately bump into Ben Payne, club promoter and member of The Insiders. Ben talks about how the barbeque is something that they’ve brought to proceedings, and something they’re so chuffed with that it features on the flyers. The jerk chicken certainly smells the part. I drop a hint that I wouldn’t mind a sample but it goes unchecked.  

Back inside and at last Storm has entered the ring. It may be the fact that the fire door has been propped open to allow the food smell to waft across the dance floor or it may just be the heady combination of Storm and Ayah which makes it a meaty affair. She bounces along with the crowd choosing a varied selection of tasty cuts whilst Ayah sings and spits in time.   

Ayah stays on the mic for the final cross over for The Insiders and inevitably “Meltdown” with Ayah’s spot getting the rewind. Commix is still in the area and Storm is smiling from the side of the decks. The Metalheadz monks are nodding and tonight we’re all converts to their philosophy. 


Breakthru (8th Sept 06)

Sweeping up the leaves of the mature Autumn club night and letting them rot slightly in winter darkness of Broken Minds, Breakthru is a fertile compromise between the two. Now on their fourth bi-monthly gig, their rosta so far has aped Autumn in terms of getting in quality ‘artist’ DJs and borrowed Broken Minds dirty dancability – the last Valve Soundsystem night being a foot-stomping, tinnitus inducing, example. It seems that Breakthru wants to be smart but also wants the step. 

Tonight we traipse into the Custard Factory courtyard, staying outside to enjoy what will surely be the last summer evening of the year. Resident and co-promoters Dan B and Phase 2 are in the Medicine Bar with the sound relayed outside via some silver tweeter speakers. Their narrow bandwidth suit the mostly Bristolian old skool set but newer bass heavy tunes are distorted without the bins to back them up.  

Anticipating that Andy C is likely to take it even further into bowel bothering sub-bass territory we grab a drink and step to the foot of the Med Bar stage to appreciate the full force of the Nexo Alpha sound system. Andy C’s first tune causes the entire arm waving room to leap into the drum line, which justifiably requires a rewind. C doesn’t rest too long on his spiky laurels and sets another track up quickly. His style is quick fingered tonight – and the accumulated tracks only allow you a breather on the rewind.  

Calyx keeps the momentum up by offering very few rewinds – which may be connected to him not playing any classics. This is fine, we’re not on Mickey Finn and Grooverider’s whistle blowing patch here. Calyx muddies up all he can lay his phat phingers on, fiddling with the organic spill of a live drums sound. In a rare rewind he stirs the gravy bass of Unknown Error until I have to go to the toilet.  

Following the inevitable wade through muddy piss, we take our place at the back of the Med Bar for Noisia. Going all ambiently Dutch, they break the bassline right down so that we’re at the BPM pace of nose rumbling hip-hop; with some smart sampled New York observations. Then the drum line drops and the room, once more, goes absolutely ballistic. The strip lighting comes on too soon, and only one more track is allowed in the stark reality. It’s a massive shame; I was in a new Noisia induced state.