Chibuku 15th Birthday
Saturday 14th March
Camp & Furnace and Arts Club, Liverpool
Situated on Greenland St, Liverpool the Camp & Furnace oozes the grimy industrial architecture expected from all warehouse raves, adjacent to the 18th Century whaling dock of formerly known Queens Dock.
Arriving at the venue at 4pm we proceeded straight for Furnace, the arena itself still has a striking resemblance to the shipping warehouse it was formerly used for, with large iron framework on either sides and huge ceiling that was towering over the living legend that is David 'Ram Jam' Rodigan. With over 40 years’ experience this man has single handedly contributed more to British music than most people could ever imagine, and his set reflected the vast experience of dance hall, reggae and syncopated madness accumulated over the years (all the while mixing from the other side of the decks and MCing as he does it - pictured above). As the growing crowd began to fill the huge room (compliments of Rodigan along with the peak-time rush) we made our way into Camp, and just in time for the technical stylings of Ben UFO.
It is easy to underestimate from his young looks but again Ben UFO has contributed more to the UK underground dance scene than most would recognise, inspired by the dub scenes within London and Leeds back in 2005 he remains one of the few professional DJs today to never produce, solely renown for his mixing skills and ability to find upcoming talent (he was one of the first to rep the likes of Blawan and Joy Orbison, now huge names) along with co-heading the Hessle Audio label and so, high expectations were in place. This may seem obvious after the last sentence, but UFO's set was instantly recognisable with the timbres associated in Hessle Audio releases, hard driving techno stompers with the sharp, rolling hats and snares that add the UK bass fluidity into the rhythm, and the subtle breaks and builds that add another layer into the mix. As one of the DJ’s whom time and time again can be expected to pull out a stellar selection, the only downside to the set on the night was its similarity to that of his previous Fabric 15th Birthday set (still incredible non the less) with bangers such as DJ Qu – Untitled (Hi Life).
Being so spoiled for choice with the variety of line-up we then made our way to HAUS, the next venue joined onto the side of this massive complex. Despite the room being virtually empty (most likely because the likes of Jackmaster and other floor fillers beginning in the larger areas) DJ Craze was absolutely unbelievable, renowned amongst cutters and scratchers as one of the best in the world the American was switching between Hip-hop and rap classics from the likes of Snoop to heavy trap anthems such as the likes of Rustie and Hudson Mohawke. The small crowd was actually a blessing, as it allowed space not to dance but instead to watch the record virtuoso at work as he pulled out all the stops with 360 backspins, the highlight of which was without a doubt cutting Still Dre upside down over his opposite shoulders that blew our minds. By the end of the set the feeling was somewhat disappointing in terms of the crowd numbers, but the quality of selection along with the sheer prestige of mixing techniques confirmed Craze as by far the most impressive DJ I have personally witnessed and certainly will never forget.
After the performance another break was needed (to somewhat let what just happened sink in) followed by a return to the Camp main room for Joy Orbison’s first back-to-back with George Fitzgerald. The relationship between the two was pleasantly recognisable, sometimes when two predominant selectors go b2b there can be a contrast between styles that leave the overall set fragmented, never really flowing and draining the atmosphere that would be created if the two had perhaps played solo. This thankfully was not the case with these two though, being able to distinguish the UK bass styling’s of Joy O’s flavours which seamlessly transcended into the more traditional 4/4 crisp-ness of Fitzgerald really complimented the two heavy weights selections, ending the night perfectly with Floating Points beautifully delicate Nuits Sonares.
Next in-store was the short commute to Liverpool Arts Centre for the night party, and with additions such as T. Williams and local bass selector Mele along with the two special guests being George Fitzgerald and Jackmaster the night was continuing to look promising. The triple b2b of B.Traits, T.Williams and special guest Fitz stood out within the lineup, a high grade selection of Tech House and Techno ensued with the set really transitioning along with the changeovers of DJs, being really well received from the crowd and creating a great atmosphere. There was just enough time to catch Mele in the loft for what was an energetic bass heavy performance, something that’s become expected and loved about the young talent, featuring some work of his own such as Jam1.
The day and night in all was really well organised for such a large event, not too over crammed with people, all staff (even security) were pleasant, plenty of smoking areas, bars, toilets and food stalls available earlier on (a must when the event is on for so long) along with the prices being reasonable. Hats off to Chibuku and here's to the next 15 years.
Words by Danny Cox
Images courtesy of Nata Moraru Photography