Despite consistently bringing some of the biggest and best names in techno to the heart of Leeds for several years now, I was somewhat shocked to hear System had not simply booked one of the most innovative and respected DJs on the planet, but they had done so for the more intimate surroundings of Mint Club, rather than its bigger brother, Mint Warehouse. Seeing such an artist as Richie Hawtin, who seldom plays venues of this size, and who is perhaps the most consistent DJ I have seen, made this night the most eagerly awaited I have had in a long time.
Upon arrival I was quickly reacquainted with Mint’s renowned Funktion-One sound system, as the bass reverberated through the walls from inside. Arriving at the venue earlier than usual, expecting long queues; I was pleased to find the club had filled out nicely once entering the tiny venue as Annie Errez had began to get the crowd going before the turn of midnight. Despite some technical issues, the Mint Club resident produced a pleasing warm-up set that built a sense of suspense whilst maintaining a hard-hitting groove. As the Leeds local’s rolling tech-house began to get heavier, edging ever close the headline set, you could feel the sense of anticipation begin to build.
By 1am the anticipation had peaked. As the lights darkened, whistles and cheers rang out as the man everyone had come to see appeared in the DJ booth, before promptly taking to the decks. The set seemed to struggle to get into a rhythm at first and resembled that of Usain Bolt 100 metre race; once the Canadian got into his stride there was simply no stopping him. You can forgive those who may of lost their sense of time, as about an hour into the set, as the clocks went back, the pace quickened and Hawtin’s relentless style of pounding tech continued to grow. The build-ups increasingly intensified just as the club’s Watergate-style LED panel light ceiling began to flow with the pulsating groove Hawtin was laying down.
Many revellers were hoping for an extended set stretching long into the night, nevertheless, those who I spoke to afterwards deemed it the best set they had seen of Hawtin. The Uruguayan, Nicolas Lutz, was up next and had the thankless task of taking over where Hawtin left off. Unfortunately, after such an exhilarating two hours of non-stop throbbing tech, the crowd were in dire need of a collective breather, and swiftly departed the dance floor as soon as Hawtin had finished. However, Lutz decided to take a different direction and brought the tempo down a notch, or ten, which suited the mood after such mammoth set preceding him. The man known for his eclectic sets saw the night off well with a seamless mix of house and tech, but the night was always only going to be about one man who showed why he is seen as Techno royalty. Once again System has delivered a night of world-class techno, as it looks set to continue its reign as Leeds’, if not the North’s, best techno night.
Photo courtesy of Richie Hawtin