Since it's conception in 1993, BBC Radio One’s Essential Mix has played host to some of the finest DJs and producers on the planet. Not only does the show appreciate the staple names in electronic dance music; it's forte is to recognise and expose fresh talent to the world. Who then is more equipped to host the show than Pete Tong? One of the most influential electronic music veterans the UK has to offer. He was arguably the first to introduce the house music sound to the masses in the UK with the first British compilation release of ‘The House Sound of Chicago’ in 1986 through London Records.
Around five years ago I remember listening to the show for the first time, and like many others, I haven’t looked back since. It was a great pleasure then to attend the twentieth anniversary party at the Warehouse Project last Saturday. With a live set from Frankfurt based duo, Booka Shade and unique back-to-back sets that you’d be hard stretched to find anywhere else in the world, it fast became one of my favourite nights of 2013, and here’s why...
Touring on the release of their fifth studio album, Eve, Booka Shade came heavily armoured with a back catalogue of music to get the crowd off their feet - and they did exactly that. Production in the studio is all about fine tuning your music to find that perfect balance, and obviously, that can sometimes be lost within a live environment. Not with Booka Shade, it became evident that their live set has been crafted for many years as they created all the ebbs and flows that are typical of a DJ set with ease. They played Many Rivers and Love Inc. off their new album which was well received but unsurprisingly, it was the classics, In White Rooms and Body Language that gained a more prevalent response.
Last April, before the release of his Jack EP, Breach at Sankeys, delivered one of the most exciting sets that I have witnessed in a very long time. Nothing has been on par since, until Saturday - Bondax B2B Monki. I can’t remember the last time I had my hands in the air so often. Opening with Giving It All, off their latest EP, Bondax took the lead. Never did I expect what the next two hours had in store for me; flawless technique from the trio had Room Two in a frenzy. Nostalgic tracks with everything from: Missy Elliot’s Get Ur Freak On, DJ Marky’s It’s The Way, Spiller ft. Sophie Ellis Bextor’s Groovejet to Paul Johnson’s, Get Get Down; it was quite frankly one of my favourite sets that I have seen so far this year. Whilst playing the forgotten tracks that everyone loves to remember (which seems to have become a trademark of Bondax if any of their recorded mixes are to go by), Monki was always at hand to freshen things up with the likes of: Tessela’s Hackney Parrot, Ninetoes’ Finder and Route 94’, My Love.
One of delights about watching a back-to-back set is that the DJs are always trying to one up each other and there was probably no better match up for fierce competition than Skream and Jackmaster. It was everything you would have expected from the duo: tight, colourful mixing, exceptional ability to read the crowd and a plethora of unheard of tracks that you find yourself talking about for the rest of the night. However with Paul Woolford and James Zabiela in Room One, my time with them was unfortunately, short-lived.
The entire night followed the ethos set by the Essential Mix, appreciating the big names whilst acknowledging fresh talent and I think that is what made the night so special. It was so fitting then, that it was Woolfords’ summer hit, Untitled that gained the biggest reaction of the night, a distinguished man who has been in the game for so long yet producing a track that is as fresh as anything and will never get old.
I’m so glad to be able to say that it didn’t finish there. The coup de grâce was yet to follow and there was never a more appropriate time for Pete Tong to take to the stage with Eats Everything. The crowd had been marinating in the finest selection of music this planet has to offer and it was time for the pair to take the atmosphere to the next level. It was exactly as I’d anticipated, they managed to create unreal suspense with panache and it was an edit of the new Tiga Vs Audion cut, Let’s Go Dancing that really set the precedent for the rest of the set. However, after being cooked up inside for a solid seven hours, it was time to leave.
The crew at the Warehouse Project and Essential Mix really outdid themselves; it was a pleasure from start to finish. It’s always a difficult one to label but I’d go as far as to say that it is heading the pack for the title of my favourite night of the year. Keep up the good work.
Review by Shivam Sukha
Images courtesy of Matt Eachus and Seb Matthes.