There’s a good reason why Resident Advisor is considered the leader in electronic music media, and those seeking explanation need look no further than February’s RA Presents at Canal Mills. As predicted, George Fitzgerald, Hudson Mohawke and Jackmaster shook the floor until close, after sterling sets from the ever-thumpy People Get Real and Paul Woolford had set the mood in room 1.
Over in room 2, the eclectically-inclined Floating Points provided plenty of brass and soulful vocals, in a dance-friendly slot which on any other night would surely have gathered a huge following, but there was never much doubt as to where the action would be at, as room 1 quickly filled to capacity.
With the tempo already set, the early deployment of Bicep’s Snackbar was exactly what was needed to assert Paul Woolford’s entry, kickstarting a steady flow of techno infringing house as Woolford built up to the staccato piano and lyrical loops his own ‘Untitled’.
Next up, George Fitzgerald provided the stand-out set of the night, covering almost three hours as he played out an embarrassment of riches including his remix of Beam Me Up and Dixon’s edit of Baikal’s Why Don’t Ya (Ripperton Remix). This huge set was worthy of the biggest of occasions, and will surely see him booked for a prompt return.
Having already played an early set in Liverpool, Hudson Mohawke took to the booth looking fully-committed to leading the party by example, deploying a ludicrous set of tracks in one of the most audacious sets I’ve ever witnessed. It’s been well over a decade since Outkast’s Ms Jackson or Kelis’ Baby I Got Your Money went to print but both went down like the freshest tracks on the scene as they dropped amongst a tide of hits familiar to most in attendance but unfamiliar within the walls of Canal Mills. Taking no heed of precedent, Mohawke dropped tracks in a visceral and unruly manner, at times disregarding the need to mix at all. Such an approach would land 99% of DJs in trouble, but when you’ve the arsenal Hudmo was bombing you can play by your own rules. Take for instance the night’s biggest talking point, what appeared to be an unreleased version of Kanye’s Bound 2, dropped nonchalantly for the first time to the confusion and delight of many on-looking Kanye fans. Featuring different lyrics and a Tyler, The Creator beat, a video of the track has quickly racked up views on Youtube as the Bound 1 fallout was lapped up by the likes of NME. Alluding further to his work with West, Hudmo gave a full play to Nina Simone’s Strange Fruits before the sledgehammer hit of TNGHT’s Higher Ground ensured that the token noise and frenzy was very much in place.
Jackmaster’s set followed a similar path, albeit with a less surprising composition, including a few surprising and unconventional tracks amongst his closing set, which leaned more towards the darker side of techno than he is usually inclined to. Due in no small part to the perfectly executed sound within the venue, a large section of the crowd remained to comfortably see the Numbers frontman through to the 6am close, perhaps finding his left-field choice of final tune – a slowed down remix of There is a Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths – a lot less surprising given that it was a night during which Canal Mills had been filled with the indie tones of Arctic Monkeys’ Do I Wanna Know?.
The extraordinary quality of the night was predictable, but the night itself was anything but.
Review by Andrew Kemp
Images courtesy of Justin Gardner Photography