1-800 Dinosaur are a label self-professedly based more on their friendship than unity of genre, and Saturday was certainly testament to that as the night saw a refreshingly varied mix of music. Warehouse nights blessed with variety tend to be the ones that keep that approaching end feeling too near, and this was no exception to that rule. From the ambience of Klaus’ opening set, through Mala’s Dubstep-heavy two hours, to the descent into full on grime, the acts kept things fresh by treading individual grounds. Despite this, it was the night's distinct lack of cohesiveness that was also its downfall. Surprisingly, this Warehouse Project night was one of the worst selling so far but undeterred, it hosted a vibrant atmosphere, and a series of performances accomplished on their own rather than as a convincing whole.
Whilst Klaus brought a trudging darkness to his opener, slowly establishing an Airhead-anticipating tension in Room 1, Mr Assister gave the rest of the early night crowd a more beat-centric experience. Both DJs laid down some solid foundations, but neither really excelled. Once Airhead came on the pace stepped up a gear. The room started filling up once October dropped as the swirling background and relentless rhythmic build provided a palpable impetus. Airhead’s continued in this great form, establishing a sense of drive through a constancy in beat, but mixing things up with some incorporated jungle drums. It wasn’t the gritty performance that might have been expected, but it struck the right balance between the atmospheric and the dancey.
Blake’s live set headlined next and it was, in short, outstanding. The crowd was restless to begin with, constructed out of a strange combination of those jumping at any hint of a regular beat, and others holding up camera phones to capture each note of Blake’s signature voice. It seemed like it was going to be tough to get the warehouse crowd to settle, particularly to the calmer songs such as Lindisfarne. But Blake’s voice was captivating, and the deep swirling bass normally layered behind his vocals were beefed up to a ceiling-shaking high. It didn’t take long for until the crowd stopped darting in and out for drinks and started bobbing heads with their eyes firmly glued to the front. Songs like Voyeur and CMYK were fleshed out and extended into step-inducing rhythms, reaching feverous fake-climaxes, and then building again into more and more. Blake never really misstepped: his voice tremored with force through out his set, and the familiar choruses of Limit to Your Love and The Wilhelm Scream were cast back at him. The old/new location was perfect: the main room of last year would have spread Blake’s sound thin, but the intimacy of Store Street’s brick arches cocooned his music perfectly.
Mala set out heavy and kept it that way. The Digital Mystikz member stuck to a dubstep loaded set, but for fans of the declining genre it was a pretty full on experience. Meanwhile in Room 2 Frank Tope was b2b with Dan Foat representing a housier vibe. The duo kept it dancey and light, and that was refreshing, a light relief from the darker aspects of Klauss and Airhead’s music, as well as Blake’s melancholia.
Comments were flying on the night about the somewhat bizarre disjoint between James Blake the soul singer and Blake the tracksuit-wearing DJ (really - he changed into a track jacket between sets). The set itself was a departure from the norm even for Blake’s DJ sets, as a slow progression into grime supported an energetic Trim. The duo, recently collaborating under the name Trimbal, were fledgling but interesting. A few quick discussions between tracks showed a lack of polish of the two as a duo, but independently the two hit the mark. Blake fused together a grimey mix, full of hits and crowd-teasing rewinds, whilst Trim brought continually fresh flow to the two hour set. It was a great conclusion to the night, bringing a fun new aesthetic to Blake’s repertoire while keeping the crowd entertained.
In a recent interview (with Dummy magazine), Dan Foat told about the motive behind 1-800 Dinosaur’s shows: “We’re trying to get the dancers in”. Saturday night didn’t really emulate this intention. Whilst there were, without doubt, a progression of dancey songs dotted across the 6 hour session, the peak of the night came in Blake’s live set, more brilliant for its atmosphere than the ability to get people moving. That’s not to say that anyone was let down: the crowd were still thrilled - Blake concluded his DJ set with a contented grin as pockets of the remaining crowd called for ‘one more song’. But if the label set out to create that all-out-dance aesthetic Foat talks about, Store Street was left short of a few big songs that could have capitalised on what was a solid variety show.
Words: Rich Jinks