&or Emporium + FSN present
Mr Bongo Soundsystem
Friday 7th Oct
The HiFi Club Leeds
Words by Tom O'Rourke
Mr Bongo is one of the longest-serving labels in bringing rare records from around the world back to collectors in the UK. Beginning as a store in 1989, David ‘Mr Bongo’ Buttle would travel to South America, fill four suitcases with records and return to London to be greeted at the airport by dealers and collectors who would draw knives in their battles over who claimed the rarest groove. Owing to the many reissue-focussed labels operating in 2016, the stakes are thankfully no longer so extreme, yet Mr Bongo’s dedication to their craft has only increased.
This year has seen them open a new record store in their home of Brighton; reissue Arthur Verocai, an album of mythical status that has sold for over £2000 on Discogs; and soon they will release Mr Bongo Record Club Vol. 1, a compilation named after their monthly podcast that represents what they play when they take their Soundsystem to festivals and clubs.
"Hifi felt at one moment like Wigan Casino, at others like South America."
Friday gave Leeds the chance to hear what’s in store, as &Or Emporium brought them to Hifi Club, playing alongside some perfectly suited local counterparts: Cosmic Slop’s Michael Greenwell and Funk Soul Nation residents. Mike runs a blog called World Treasures Music and at Cosmic Slop you will often hear the same tunes as in a Record Club episode, including the label’s own reissues such as Joyce and Joao Donato.
"By the time they jumped back on the decks to finish off with ‘You’re A Melody’ from Floating Points’ recent triple 7inch reissue on Melodies, Hifi had been treated to hundreds of records that few clubs in the UK experience hearing."
Following FSN’s well-crafted warm up, the Soundsystem’s Gareth Stevens and Gary Johnson played from 12-2.30, jumping easily between styles so that Hifi felt at one moment like Wigan Casino, at others like South America. Label favourites from their Brazil and Latin 45 series mixed with funk and soul, alongside the occasional Plastic People anthem like Bileo’s ‘You Can Win’. The last hour and a half saw Mike take to the decks, giving the guests of honour opportunity to mingle with the crowd and generously give away dozens of CDs.
By the time they jumped back on the decks to finish off with ‘You’re A Melody’ from Floating Points’ recent triple 7inch reissue on Melodies, Hifi had been treated to hundreds of records that few clubs in the UK experience hearing, while the dancers were left excitedly awaiting what’s to come from the label in their future parties, compilations and reissues.
Words by Tom O'Rourke
Photos courtesy of Mr Bongo