By Nick Hahn, BA Global Popular Music, and Silva Rehn, BA International Relations and Study of Religions
A packed line up on a Saturday night in Brixtion is always going to be a hectic experience, but this evening especially. So we put two reviewers on the case and headed down to Electric Brixton for the celebration of 10 years of Wormfood, a Brixton-based record label specialising in African, jazz, electronic and all points in between. The crowd were restless and unsettled, often interrupting the moments for you to let go and enjoy the excellent music. Luckily, Nubyian Twist were on hand with their smooth and soulful alternative jazziness to get the night up and running in high spirits, lulling the audience into a false sense of security, unaware of what was about to descend upon them. However, their immaculate timing and groove resonated till the end.
Chris Tofu began the DJ sets with his bait but energetic, so-called, ‘D’n’B swing’. Although this was fun, the evening was all about The Busy Twist who came on last. Their brilliant scatty dance music with that tropical/cuban rhythmic infusion is a great way to end any night. The Bust Twist have such a lively and fresh sound, not afraid to use classic dance tropes and heavy bass, and it works excellently.
There is something quite exciting about having live music on a night out, and no one fits that bill better than Afriquoi, who, despite what was quite a muddy sound, pulled it out of the bag. Their joyous and infectious house/afrobeat keep only the extremely pretentious from dancing. The voice of André Espeut rose through the synth and drum laden texture to bring you those catchy hooks while Jallykebba Susso’s occasionally over-milked kora solos and energetic dancing were an impressive spectacle.
The Comet Is Coming were much heavier than I initially expected, at times close to a metal-jazz fusion. Their sound is phenomenally huge for a three piece and King Shabaka’s saxophone came through the walls of sounds wonderfully. The relentless drumming and frantic saxophone riffs only added to the tension provided by the thick synth crescendos. This tension is trance-inducing, something we could see in effect from our view from the balcony over the heads of the audience.
The layout of the venue, with its balcony extending along the second floor, gave an entertaining view onto the bobbing heads and twisting shoulders under electric blue light. 10 Years of Wormwood was always going to be a popular night, but the number of people crowding into the venue meant that a hands-in-the-air and legs-free-to-step-in-all-directions kind of boogie was hardly achievable. Regardless of the congestion and the somewhat chaotic atmosphere that sets in at any club past a certain hour, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and the staff at the venue were friendlier than most when handling dazed crowds. The option of a second, smaller room to dance in, with its pre-emptive glasses of water at the bar, was good for a change of scenery and music for those who needed it—although the smaller space and ambient red lighting may have led some event-goers to confuse it for something more brothel-like judging from the unnecessary groping. But such are the unfortunate results of a culture that cannot be scrapped by even the best organizers, and it didn’t overshadow the excitable and friendly atmosphere of the smoking area which people streamed to, initially for a nicotine fix, only to find themselves discussing some of the most distant (or most repressed) aspects of their life with strangers they will likely not remember the names of, taking down phone numbers they will likely never use, but with faces that one can happily recall as blurry blobs of drunken friendliness.