Each year when Bristol’s Motion nightclub announces its gargantuan lineup of In:Motion winter events, there’s always one label night in particular that is guaranteed to leave the drum and bass heads salivating. They go by the name of Hospital Records, and 20 years strong into the game they are still throwing some of the most talked about drum and bass parties around.
Last weekend the label returned to its familiar south west club setting for one of the biggest Hospitality events it has held in Bristol. From Hospital giants High Contrast and Danny Byrd, to jungle godfathers Fabio & Grooverider, it was an eclectic night demonstrating the bewildering strength of the current drum and bass scene.
Hospitality events are renowned for the feel good, melody-driven euphoria the music consistently encapsulates, but upon entering Motion you were smacked with the steely sound of jump up in room three with the Beta Brothers, who were warming up for the Invaderz takeover. It was a first Bristol outing for the Belgian label, but a rather disappointing one due to the room only managing to draw a minimal crowd all night, despite former Radio One DJ Crissy Criss and Kings of The Rollers member Voltage gracing the line up.
Whilst the lack of interest in room three was surprising, it was a testament to the plethora of music on offer in the other two rooms. The expansive main room played host to Hospitality on the biggest stage. With the likes of Nu:Logic, Hugh Hardie and Culture Shock playing the first portion of the night, it was clear to see why the room quickly filled to capacity.
This was before the main act came on – an act that has played Hospitality Bristol many times before, but this time was different. It was the long-awaited arrival of Fred V & Grafix, who were performing their final UK live show before taking it abroad. With the duo being based in Bristol, as they walked on stage they were met by raucous cheers synonymous of a Premier League title-winning home match.
Kicking off their set with ‘Drowning Without You’ typified the sea of smiling faces and flailing arms that swamped the room – all the way from the ground floor, up the stairs and onto the balcony. Despite the enormity of the crowd, Fred V & Grafix’s stripped-back setup of just themselves and vocalist Shannon Kitchen meant their performance felt like an intimate gig, where Fred V persistently walked up to the crowd blasting out harmonies. The big surprise of the set came at the end when they brought fellow Hospital producer Etherwood on stage for the first time to sing ‘Forest Fires’.
Whilst this was going on, over in room two something just as special was taking place. With Hospital Records opting for a full venue takeover, it meant they were able to utilise the adjoining Marble Factory as room two – an area embodying a distinctly underground feel with a low ceiling and stone pillars lining the centre of the room.
The setting couldn’t have been anymore perfect for a unique Rage era jungle set from pioneers Fabio & Grooverider, one that was every bit as special and mind-blowing as anticipated. With a tyrant of breakbeats and old school samples, they took the crowd back in time to the club night that not only kicked off the careers of the duo, but also represents a defining influence in society and drum and bass, as discussed in their recent In Conversation piece.
Following on in room two was the label boss himself – Tony Colman, who gave Fabio & Grooverider his first ever single as London Elektricity before forming Hospital Records many years ago. It was another unique performance in which Tony laid down a set dedicated to Med School classics. Sporting a ‘Spread Love’ t-shirt, his feel-good music conveyed the theme that has resonated throughout rave music ever since the 80s.
There was a touching moment during the performance when he played the late Apex’s remix of his track “Just One Second”. Everyone burst into emotional cheers to celebrate the life of the influential producer who sadly passed away last month.
Over in room one it was a contrasting party atmosphere with The Prototypes, High Contrast and Krakota taking the reigns for the final stretch of the night. But it was Hospitality Bristol veteran Danny Byrd’s set that stood out in particular. From General Levy to Annix, his ferocious mixes of jungle classics fused with heavy jump up basslines perfectly demonstrated the energy Hospitality brings to the city each year, and the reason why it will continue to be a mainstay on the In:Motion calendar for years to come.
Photo courtesy of Alastair Brookes - Entirety Labs
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