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A Magazine for Sheffield

Vibrations / Mall Grab / Barang!

9 December
Yellow Arch Studios

With Banana Hill decamping main operations to Manchester, a void has opened up for club nights non-aligned to a four-to-the-floor grid. Hoping to fill that space are Vibrations, a crew originally from Bangor who’ve found their natural home at Yellow Arch, with December’s party being their third in a row at the Neepsend club.

Moorish arches and colourful souq lamps mark the venue out from the ubiquitous black walls of other clubs and also match the globetrotting music policy of Vibrations, with Ghanaian fusion, Jamaican dub and New York disco all getting a look in.

Elephant Disco began in the main room as two men dressed in all-in-one elephant costumes, playing the sort of funky guitar-driven disco that falls just the wrong side of cheesy. With the repeated line “feel that bass, in your face, rest my case”, I sought refuge in the rave cave, where Fran Green was spinning the live version of Talking Heads' 'Girlfriend Is Better'.

Among other jazzy disco cuts, the packed crowd particularly went for the infectious fizz of 'Problèmes D'Amour' by Alexander Robotnick. I checked back on the Elephants who’d been joined by singer Eniye. The instrumentals suddenly made more sense with the addition of her heartfelt vocals.

If you haven't seen the Zongos, imagine the pop-primed sax appeal of Madness blended with the high-NRG afrobeat of Fela Kuti. Like that other great Sheff ensemble the Mangoes, the Zongos' sets build such momentum that it feels like they couldn't stop playing even if they wanted to.

Back in the cave, Junglist Alliance hit the reset button with a couple of spacey dub cuts before diving into a two-hour run of the kind of dusty low-fi jungle where static charges fire off the snare rushes.

Sam Gregory


9 December
Hope Works

DJ Mag’s Best Of British Awards have recently nominated Hope Works for Best Small Venue and also backed Ross From Friends as Best Breakthrough Producer. To top it off, Resident Advisor recently voted Pretty Pretty Good’s night as the top northern event of the week. Attendees expected nothing but tip top music.

With Hope Works receiving an award nomination, PPG made the curious decision in winter of hosting the event outside. However, the stripy double circus tent was a quirky addition to the venue’s courtyard space and heaters kept us toasty all night long. There was also zero compromise on lighting, with technicians producing what can only be described as an accelerando of a rainbow strobe show. A gold medal performance.

As for the music itself, attendees were ready for a cornucopia of lo-fi house. The genre has been criticised for a lack of rigour and quality, and with such ridiculous names can we take these producers seriously or are they just out to take the mickey? The sell-out crowd certainly didn’t think so. The dreamy, ethereal sound of Ross From Friends made his slightly silly name irrelevant. It’s a shame that it might have taken a DJ Mag nomination for audiophiles to give these artists some true consideration.

Following Ross, Australia’s Mall Grab allowed us to get really sassy on the dance floor. His selection was vast, from hip hop to breakbeat to dance, and everything was covered with tremendous mixing and outstanding flow. I couldn’t help but have another cheeky dance to Bizarre Inc’s ‘I’m Gonna Get You’ when I got home. The dance should never have to stop. These party makers aren’t nominees - they’re already winners. Top marks.

Jennifer Martino


10 December

DINA’s juxtaposition of word carnival rave and intimate supper club for Barang! might appear incongruous, but it could well be a new model for adventurous club nights.

I enter during the first set as organisers clear the last plates and diners linger around tables, and this strange, messy overflow both heightens a sense of living community and complements the music itself. Clattering cutlery strikes counterrhythm to African house beats and scraps of pretentious conversation jar in contrast to musical sincerity and joy.

The theme is global and pan-African, the music percussive and polyrhythmic. The timbral palette is broad, bright and shimmering. Marimbas and steel drums glisten prismatically against glassy electronic beats. Fuelled by complex carbs and propelled by funk and rhythm, patrons dance with greater commitment and more wholesome vigour than you can imagine from any stimulant-charged warehouse rave.

As with kuduro, the buzz of hype around gqom music for the western DJ might be attributed to the ease with which, with its menacing drones and forbidding minimalism, it slides into stock sets of sullen techno while retaining its folk pedigree. When presented in its native South African context of lively rhythm and cheerful harmony however, it takes on greater poignancy.

At points, the otherwise effervescent music of post-apartheid optimism gives way to an oppressive mood more recognisably late capitalist and Durbanian; the ecstatic rainbow melts into the lysergic swirls and oleaginous iridescence of chemical abuse and industrial ooze.

Cheery vocal harmonies disintegrate into atomised vocables, jagged and impassable rhythms litter the dancefloor like barbed wire. It's a fleeting impression, but the kind that the canvas-like space of DINA, with its commitment to new ideas, greatly facilitates.

Andrew Trayford


Next article in issue 106

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