This was just a fantastic night of the weird and wonderful; incredible visuals, fancy dress, brilliant music and just bucketful’s of happy people. The first thing that struck me on entering Vox warehouse was the insanely good effort the Raise The Roof crew had done with décor and random bits and bobs; LEDs, wall and ceiling hangings, circus performers, random bits of conceptual art, projectors, photo booths, lasers, strobes, make up stations, DJ booths with gramophones and my personal favourite: a cake and tea tent. I had been promised by the flyer a 'cyberpunk voyage across cosmic frontiers' and this night could not have delivered more. The second thing that struck me was that this was one of the most brilliantly eccentric crowds I’ve ever seen at an event. The flyer said fancy dress and good god did this crowd take that seriously. I rocked up in my mates floral dungarees with my face painted like a mime and if anything I was underdressed. To put it in perspective at one point I saw a guy dressed in a full bee keepers outfit doing ‘big fish, little fish, cardboard box’ with another guy who had strapped a load of flashing lights to his chest and a colander to his head whilst a couple painted from head to toe in blue as the characters from ‘Avatar’ made out in the corner. That is not a sentence you ever expect to deliver in reference to a time when you were sober.
Room one had a heavyweight line up of good vibes, the combination of full piece live bands and DJ’s really added to the festival feel and all the acts delivered on the night. I was very excited about seeing The Beat. If you are into your 2 tone ska or your reggae and haven’t heard of the Beat then you aren’t into your 2 tone ska or reggae. The full live band was amazing to see on stage and they threw an incredibly energetic and smile-inducing set down for the crowd’s enjoyment. They really showcased the full range of their influences and skill; the fluidity and relaxed melody of songs like ‘Mirror in the Bathroom’ was interspersed with the foot stomping party rhythms of songs like ‘Click Click’. Blurring ska, reggae, punk, pop, soul and jazz influences seamlessly, with lyrics preaching love and unity to create a sound that is so uniquely their own. Nubiyan Twist came on after and carried on in a very similar reggae vein which was a little more knee’s up in tone. Their very attractive and vocally gifted singer Nubi got the crowd jumping and swaying in equal measures with a voice that was both powerful and soulful. An interesting take on reggae with afro beat, hip hop, dub and turntabalism mixed in, they delivered a wicked little set that included their own songs “Shadows fall” and “Wafro Beat” which are well worth a listen on Youtube if you haven’t heard them already. After Nubyian Twist came the Dub Pistols DJ set delivered by front man Barry Ashworth. I have to admit this was my favourite set of the night, the first thing Ashworth dropped was a ridiculous mash up of The Prodigy’s ‘Voodoo People’ with The Beastie Boys' ‘Sabotage’ and he followed this with a remix of ‘No No No (You Don’t Love Me)’ that he had spliced together with what I think I recognized as a Stanton Warriors Breakbeat instrumental. For me good DJ’s tell the crowd what they’re going to do with their set with the first three songs they drop. The three songs Ashworth dropped roughly translates to telling the audience “buckle up because I am about to sonically pimp slap your ears with a ridiculous party set.” What followed was nothing short of psychotic. Some of the tunes you’d expect from a Dub Pistols set like “Ganja” and “Mucky Weekend” got played but they were mixed together with Electro, Dubstep, Drum and Bass and every other genre under the sun to create an hour and a half’s worth of music that sounded like an A Skillz set on steroids.
Room 2 is also briefly worth a mention as it was just awesome. Who themes a room around electro swing and burlesque? A bloody genius that’s who! Wolfie Razzmatazz and a host of other DJ’s fired out some of the best and brightest tunes of an emerging sub-genre of electro that I have a lot of time for. I was impressed by the imagination and breadth of Electro that a lot of these DJ’s brought to the table. The music oscillated wildly from cool feet itching Parov Stelar-esque electro swing to some more balls to the wall Knife Party-esque electro step. The electro insanity of Room 2 gave a nice balance to the night as a pumping dance alternative to the more chilled out rhythmical reggae that was on for most of the night in Room 1. Having never been to a Raise The Roof festival before I couldn’t have been more impressed. If you don’t enjoy watching burlesque whilst eating cake, drinking tea and skanking out to electro then you don’t like fun, bring on the next one!
Review by Will Gadsby Peet
Images courtesy of Scott Salt, Pat Bannon and Chris Little