Arguably one of the most anticipated nights of the year. This time we were at Mint Warehouse, where System brought the Cocoon party to Leeds to host a tech filled line up with some of the biggest names in the industry. The last time we saw Cocoon in Leeds was back in mid-July when godfather of techno Sven Vaith smashed his event, Cocoon in the Park, who headlined alongside support from Richie Hawtin, Ricardo Villalobos and Craig Richards. Personally, this felt like a lifetime ago, so I couldn’t wait for the Cocoon return.
Top of the bill was producer and DJ Ricardo Villalobos, who gathered support from the likes of Raresh and Onur Ozer in the main room, whilst the likes of Alexandra, Jack Wickham and Snare kept things moving in room 2. It was another hugely successful summer for Cocoon in Ibiza this year and word had spread of Ricardo’s immense set for the Cocoon closing party at Amnesia, so it was more than expected when a huge amount of excitement built when people heard that Ricardo would be coming back to Leeds.
Raresh and Onur Ozer kicked things off with a back to back set in the main room, setting the tempo early on for the night with an array of upbeat minimal tech. They engaged with the crowd instantly as they kept everyone on their toes constructing a layer of beats, building slowly, whilst filling the air with suspense, then playing that immaculate drop at the perfect time. They were simply incredible. I’d seen Raresh a few times before as he’s now a firm member of the Cocoon family, showcasing their festivals and club tours around the world, but he’d never quite made such an impression. Perhaps it was the back to back partnership that night with Onur that brought the best out of him as the mix of powerful techno sounds and deep magnetic tech house worked together perfectly. Although the atmosphere in the main room wasn’t as electric as I’d hoped, people gradually made their way in from the cold and started to fill the room. I then made my way over to the 2nd room, where the likes of Alexandra and Snare kept it a little lighter than the deep dark sounds of the main room but still managed to maintain a certain intensity to their sets. However, despite a few buzzing vibes, the crowd continued to be very sparse all night in room 2, which diminished any attempt of creating a full flowing atmosphere. It was then time to make my way back down and catch the end of Raresh and Onur’s set and although I was rapidly becoming even more of a fan after each track they put out, the atmosphere was of a similar vibe in the main room. It had filled out a bit more since I left, but I couldn’t help but feel something was still missing. It didn’t quite feel as pumped and electric as most Cocoon crowds have been in the past, maybe now the nights are darker, longer and colder it’s hard to get people pumped for such events. Then again, I’d heard the crowd of thousands up at Edinburgh that same night for Sven Vaith’s Cocoon event almost reached melting point, nevertheless Villalobos was about to come on, so I brushed any doubts to one side and kept an open mind for what was to follow.
Starting strongly, Ricardo gave the crowd exactly what they came for, an upbeat mix of minimal tech kept the crowd jumping on similar vibes from where Raresh and Onur left, but Villalobos is his own genre and a miraculous selection of Congo beats with a heavier tech baseline was to follow. Ricardo’s South American percussion based upbringing then started to come into play, the sounds of which supplemented the minimal tech backdrop brilliantly accompanied by a range of hypnotic synths. If there was a slight lack of energy or buzz to the atmosphere at the beginning of the night that was certainly over now as Ricardo quickly ramped up the energy in the room with his track selection and immaculate mixing, and continued to do so late into the night.
Raresh then took to the decks once again for the final hour from 6-7am. Although by now the crowd had faded, the upbeat party tracks just kept coming. Octave One feat Ann Saunderson – Black Water then began to filter out of the speakers, a great track choice giving an emotional ending as its feel good house vibes and warming lyrics wrapped the night off perfectly.
Review by Chris Simpson
Images courtesy of System