Event: Four Tet All Nighter at Brixton Academy

Event date: 22.03.14

Saturday night saw the second instalment of Four Tet’s all-nighters at Brixton Academy, featuring the stellar lineup of Joy Orbison, Floating Points, Daphni, Ben UFO, Pearson Sound, Pangaea and Four Tet himself.

Entering the venue just after doors opened, Joy O was opening with an extended warm-up set to a surprisingly empty hall. Demonstrating that he is a DJ who thrives on variety, the set was relaxed and melodic, with Joy often shunning beat-driven electronic music in favour of older, cracklier cuts. As such the momentum sometimes waned, and having seen Joy’s sets captivate packed dancefloors in the past it perhaps would have been preferable if he played later in the night. However, with 7 headliners of this quality on the bill it would be unreasonable to complain about the order they played in.

Next up was Daphni who played an outstanding set – picking up where Joy O left off but traversing more dance-orientated genres and tempos throughout, with an early highlight being Bonobo’s ‘We Could Forever’. Despite initially maintaining the laid-back vibes established in the first hour and a half of the night, several uptempo garage tracks stimulated a rush of energy amongst the now-packed crowd, and the overarching coherence and effervescence of Daphni’s set made it the most impressive of the night.

Third on the bill was the inimitable Floating Points whose set revolved around jazzy, dynamic productions. The crowd by this point was fully engaged with the music, and the selection of ‘Sais’ only served to heighten the mood in the venue. Mixing was consistently excellent, further outlining the fact that Sam Shepherd is clearly an exceptionally talented musician.

The time now came for Four Tet, curator of the night and potentially the biggest name on the lineup. Beginning his set with The Bug’s ‘Skeng’ (a tune he later described as ‘from other dimensions’) into the completely rudimentary yet ridiculously catchy grime instrumental ‘Ghetto Kyote’, Four Tet stunned the crowd from the off, finding time to cram in banger after banger. The set flew by, with recent Terror Danjah collaboration ‘Killer’ and T2’s ‘Heartbroken’ sparking some of the most intense reactions. While Four Tet’s obsession with obscure music was evident, pleasing the crowd was clearly his aim, and this contributed immeasurably to the success of the night.

Hessle Audio founders Pangaea, Ben UFO and Pearson Sound went back-to-back for the remainder of the evening, and their set begun brilliantly. Choice grime cuts were interspersed with harsh techno, and this formula kept the crowd moving, sustaining the euphoria the previous acts had worked so hard to instil. However, perhaps because of the late curfew of 6am, the crowd’s interest declined markedly in the last hour or so, and the trio of DJs failed to alter the mood of their set to account for this. In fairness, the sheer size of Brixton Academy made it easy to feel empty, and the Hessle Audio set was not a disappointment as such but (again) would have been better received at a different time.

The venue itself was incredible: in addition to the vast main hall there was a huge balcony overlooking the crowd. Door staff were reasonable, and although the drinks prices were obscenely expensive this represents just a minor annoyance. Other punters have complained about the quality of the sound and the lack of a lighting rig; while the sound wasn’t perfect, it was commendable for such a large room, and the lack of any lighting (save for 4 desk lamps) was not a major issue when the music was generally so good. All in all, it would only be fair to praise Four Tet for putting on such an impressive line up for such a low price: while the night wasn’t without minor faults, it was surely worth the ticket price five times over, and without a doubt worth the long trip down from Manchester.

– Ben Scott

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