Saturday 2nd November
The Black Box, Edinburgh
Sven Vath // Onur Ozer // Alejandro Mosso
The buzz around Edinburgh on the lead up to this event had reached fever pitch come Saturday. With Cocoon being a brand that has never featured in the Scottish capital until now, the expectation of a fully branded Cocoon event complete with a lineup usually found at Amnesia is massive come show time. Couple that with the fact the event is taking place in a never before used venue, this show has legendary status written all over it.
The event itself is part of a forward thinking concept from the visionary mind of Grum Anderson, named The Black Box. The theme for The Black Box is the full audio visual sensory experience not usually afforded to the regular clubber. Tonight's Cocoon branded Black Box is taking place just outside of Edinburgh at Ratho Climbing Center, the world's largest indoor climbing centre, so the scope for such a large event is immense. What makes makes this event even more exciting is that until a few days before the event the location was kept secret. So with all of this mind, I boarded one of the many coaches leaving from Edinburgh and made my way to the event.
Arriving at Ratho it wasn't long before I was directed through the security entrance by the, very lovely, front of house girls and in no time at all found myself in the outdoor area of the party. This housed the 2nd room to the event which would showcase the best in local talent from Scotland's most influential club nights. The option of food was also available here with a great selection of street food, although techno was firmly at the top the menu tonight.
After a quick look around the 2nd room and the purchasing of the all important drinks tokens, I made my way over to the cavernous main room to catch Onur Ozer warming things up with his trademark deep hypnotic house. When I say warming up I mean it in the literal sense, once the location had been announced it was made very clear by the promoter that due to the sheer size of the venue that it would be cold so the warmup set from Onur could possibly be the most challenging set of his career, at very least it may be the coldest. It didn't take long for the main floor to fill up as by the time I got to the main room there was already a serious amount of people getting down to Onur's set.
The backdrop to the stage was one of the most impressive I've seen in a while, with the below lit climbing wall and the jungle themed Cocoon branding hanging from the high roof, this perfectly framed the stage and the accompanying lights and sound system. With it being 2nd November, the party goers were very much still in the Halloween spirit and it was great to see so many people in fancy dress. Although I was dressed for the cold and was more than happy to take in Onurs set, I instead opted to check out the DJs from Glasgow outfit The Shimmy. Taking over from Alan Dobson, resident of long running Dundee night Rhumba, Vilmos kicked things off in fine style with a cut from Sante and Frank Lorber which changed things up enough to mark his arrival. With The Shimmy making serious waves in a scene that at times is eclipsed by the sheer booking prowess of the Sub Club it was clear from Vilmos' energetic, bass heavy house this was largely due to the skills of their residents. This energetic vibe was further cemented by him dropping Bicep - Stash and Sonny Fodera - How We Do Things in quick succession. With Musika being an Edinburgh outfit it was great to see the local clubbing fraternity out in force to support residents Jamie McKenzie and Kirk Douglas as they turned up the heat in Room 2 with a tasty selection of chunkier house from Jamie and a bit more of a Garage/Bass tip from Kirk.
Needing a change of pace it was time to check out the main room, arriving slightly later than I had hoped I was just in time to take my place for the closing sounds of Alejandro Mosso's live set. A relative newcomer to the Cocoon stable and currently being championed by Sven during this year's Ibiza campaign, Alejandro's rolling techno style perfectly set the pace for Sven to take centre stage. It was very clear when Sven took to the stage as the now packed out main room erupted. With Sven playing to crowds of this size on a weekly basis he clearly wasn't phased by the scale of this event, but it is a well known fact that Scotland has some of the most clued up and energetic crowds in the world and there was certainly an air of this in Sven's set. He took no time at all in getting down to business and his selection of tough house and techno was having the necessary effect. For those that have not seen Papa Sven play before there is definitely a few variants of the Vath sound. On this particular night Sven opted for solid techno interspersed with epic break downs and the crowd were lapping it up.
From where I was stood, which was admittedly about half way up the main room, the sound levels of the sound system were a tad low, meaning that for the full experience of Sven's set you really needed to be right in the middle of the massive throng. This was no problem for most as this is where the magic really happens, bearing in mind this was at the start of his set and by around halfway through his 3 hour set the levels were beginning to get ramped up. This was brought to the fore by Sven dropping Johannes Heil & Len Faki - Octopuss, a booming monster of a track complete with a sinister break down featuring a fog horn that created atmosphere that you could cut with a knife. When the beat dropped you knew Sven was in full control of the room which was evident from a quick scan of the room. With the natural reverb and huge sound system even the most basic of track elements such as a simple raw hi hat took on a much more powerful presence, for me with techno of this scale it can sometimes fall down in the intimacy department and crowd interaction but what this may lack in some cases Sven more than made up for with excellent track selection and precision mixing.
With techno artists of this calibre rarely making appearances in Scotland outside of T in the Park and Rockness it was clear from the turn out of the crowd that there is definitely a market for such huge scale events. With this being the first joint venture between Musika and The Black Box there was of course some minor teething problems, such as slight delays for some entering the event all of which were immediately dealt with by the Musika team who worked tirelessly to build a 2,500 capacity event literally from the ground. I felt this was a very small price to pay for a promoter taking a risk and meeting the demands of the Edinburgh clubber head on. Much has been said about the current state of Edinburgh's club scene but with this event and countless others being put on by a small group of Edinburgh promoters, this proves that there is a thriving scene should you wish to put your money where your mouth is and actually put your trust in the people that are doing their best to put on the very best artists. Cocoon's show case at the The Black Box from Musika is one such event and in my opinion I feel that they have delivered in spades and in the process helped to push Edinburgh's club nights to the next level.
Review by Stu Todd
Images courtesy of Craig Muir