Despite weather reports not looking too bright for May’s first bank holiday, the excitement ahead of Back to Basics Saturday afternoon offering to Leeds’ three day bender, The Rebel Rave, was gaining some hefty momentum as the weekend grew close. Featuring Crosstown Rebels boss Damian Lazarus and Hot Natured’s Jamie Jones headlining, alongside Ralph Lawson and an endless array of Basics residents, there was no doubt at all that it was going to be a party of epic proportions.
With the enviable terrace area covered over sufficiently in case the heavens opened, and enough heaters hanging around to prevent coats-on dancing for the duration, the party was already rocking in consistent Basics style by late afternoon. After a two hour set from 2020 Vision’s Ralph Lawson, 7pm saw Jamie take to the decks and get things rolling harder with Tensnake’s anthemic ‘Coma Cat’. Cue smiles and buzzed-up hugs all round as the crowd descended even closer to the DJ to lap up the atmosphere.
Having set up a shed-like area to house the decks at the far end of the terrace, there was plenty of space for DJ booth-sharers to get involved and the sight of things kicking off just as much behind the speakers as in front helped create the kind of loved-up party vibe you’d find in the likes of intimate Ibiza venues such as DC10 and Ushuaia. Later, when Basics head honcho Dave Beer grabbed the mic for an ‘I love you Back to Basics’ shout out, the crowd replying with arms in the air smiles and squeals, it was clear just why this unique UK promotion is still as popular now as ever.
After a faultlessly energetic and musically blinding set from Jamie, featuring various productions from his own label, you could understand why his trademark disco/deep house sound continues to cause visible waves in the worldwide dance scene.
With the weather cooling down and the sun fading out the crowd headed inside. Things rocked along nicely while the mood adjusted, with some daytime partiers heading home while others ventured in to the club for the first time to witness round two of the night’s proceedings; the now legendary Damian Lazarus playing a long-awaited set in the city.
Though noticeably male-dominated, the crowd and music kept the atmosphere relentlessly high in the couple of hours before Lazarus stepped up to the decks. As soon as the first track was played things were back in full rave mode. Setting straight off with the high calibre, powerful underground tracks that have made his and Crosstown Rebels’ name, Lazarus launched straight into a deep, dark and atmospheric set that featured enough melodic edges to keep ears pricked up as the party crossed into hour nine of proceedings.
It could have been sunnier, and possibly a little busier, but taking on the myriad of other huge events in the city over the bank holiday, Back to Basics more than held their own. This well organised, musically-led event showcased the taste and vibe that keeps a dedicated crowd coming back to the club weekly. And with one of the best outdoor spaces in the city at their disposal, it looks likely that this could be one of the outdoor parties to watch this summer.
Words: Julia Jennings
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