Coded Rhythm always turn up tops for their bookings, spanning a wide variety of genres from bass with Night Slugs boss L-Vis 1990, techno in the form of Lone and Happa, house and more. This time, for their 2nd Birthday event they brought genre-defying musician, Nightmares on Wax and feel-good beat maker Onra to Gorilla in Manchester.
At this point, I’ve got to ‘fess up. Nightmares on Wax is probably one of my favourite artists of all time so anything I write will be undeniably biased. I was worried that it would be like the time I saw one of my other faves – Bob Dylan – and he was so crap I felt that his magic had been taken away. Realistically, the night could’ve gone two ways; he’d be horrendous and I’d leave, downtrodden and bewildered at the end, having hung on until the last note in the hope that it would’ve got better, or he’d blow me away and I’d leave wanting more.
We entered as Onra was playing ‘No Matter What’ and the crowd at the front were all clamoring to get nearer to where Onra himself was energetically swaying and bobbing, looming over his equipment, cutting a dynamic figure onstage. I’m a fan of Onra but not as much when compared to one of my friends who was jumping with excitement when each track came on, he’s a great musician and no-one can deny that he has an ear for a beat.
For a support act, the crowd were very into it – Onra is probably most famous for that Whispers edit, which unfortunately, but understandably he didn’t play – and it’s possible that some people came as much for Onra as they did for Nightmares on Wax, judging by the enthused dancing that greeted many of his tracks. It was nice to have a live set although at times it was a bit repetitive – I say this as an afterthought as Nightmares on Wax followed him…
Onra – such a good choice and I’m sure he would’ve packed out Manchester’s smaller venues such as Soup Kitchen – couldn’t compete with the craziness that followed in the form of Nightmares on Wax’s set, which began with a killer DnB tune. Personally, I have to be in the mood for it, if I’m not then it’s one of the worst things ever. Especially following Onra’s percussive vibe. But it proved to be a sick choice – a ‘dancefloor weapon’ even – which signaled the start of NoW’s reign on the decks.
His music is so wide-ranging: from the beautiful electronics of ‘Les Nuits’ to the hip-hop beat ‘Be, I Do’, sticking to one genre would be silly in his DJ sets. Dropping ‘Be, I Do’ was a personal highlight of mine, absolutely killed it when the hook /living a life that’s benevolent/ came on. At the front the hard core crowd – must’ve been attracted by the ‘live’ nature of Onra’s set – were bobbing away in the sweaty haze that Gorilla had become.
The nice thing about Gorilla is the it’s got a higher chill-out bit at the top where people can look down onto the artist and the crowd. There’s also a handy bar so if queues get to big at either of the main bars, a quick trip to the mezzanine level sees you laughing at your mates as they’re still waiting to queue. That said, the queues weren’t even big so it was just nice being able to chill out on the top floor sofas, watching Nightmares on Wax do his thang.
‘Now is the Time’ came on to break our chill up top, running downstairs, straight to the dancefloor.
Nightmares on Wax was awesome, ruling the decks at the front with his stripey hat on he was picking tune after tune to keep the crowd buzzing right the way till the end when it was still pretty full. The drinks at the bar were slightly ridiculous – £3.50 for a beer is not the one and I heard several people comment on it but this was a relatively minor issue.
At the start of this review, I lied. I said it could go one of two ways and it went neither. NoW’s set was fab, technically perfect, he didn’t blow me away but that’s probably because I was – rather unfairly perhaps – expecting him to play more of his own songs. Whilst I wasn’t blown away, NoW absolutely killed it. The night amazing and I imagine that playing live he’ll be even better.
17th October, Gorilla Manchester
– Kim Kahan