Like most parties started out of a thirst to play to their mates on a soundsystem bigger than a Sony hi-fi, drum[roll] has changed its spots in coincidence with the promoters' tastes. Difference is, these days, these are changing a lot quicker than they used to.
In just over two years — no doubt due to greater accessibility and the fleeting nature of dance music today — the night has gone from a residents-only party dropping crossover tech house tunes from labels such as Great Stuff Records, Hot Creations and Body Language to arguably the most genre-testing house and techno night in the north — in Sheffield, at least.Fresh from celebrating its second birthday, which delivered 4/4 innovators Trevino, Shed and Untold to Fez Club last month, it's already welcomed a succession of techno's all-time finest — Richard H Kirk, Sandwell District, Marcel Dettmann, Ryan Elliott, The Black Dog — as well as house and garage heads George Fitzgerald and Youandewan, plus a Hypercolour showcase with Alex Jones and Ste Roberts. It shows no signs of curtailing, too — with A Horizontal Ground/Frozen Border (2nd November) and Aus (7th December) showcases in the offing. So what's the method to this mash-up madness?
“Nowadays, and because of the explosion of other nights in Sheffield that focus on their own sounds, we steer clear of the DC10 tech house sound — for innumerable reasons, really,” says Chris Whitehall, resident DJ (SixFootSick) and co-promoter of the night. “Big things for us at the moment are the likes of Move D, Ryan Elliott, Kassem Mosse, the whole Ostgut and Panorama stable, the new school of dub and techno from Blawan, Joy O, Pariah. Stuff with impact, stuff that sounds big but that hopefully isn't getting rinsed too much elsewhere. We like to dig.”
It all started — “as three men playing techno to an empty pub for six hours,” quips Oli Tyndall, one half of resident DJ duo Up and Atom — at The Harley Hotel, a venue that serves as “Sheffield's bedding ground for new nights,” he says. Since, however, the event has taken strides to secure a loyal following with its brave and constantly moving music policy, relocating to a monthly residency at Fez — “a black box, dark and low and full of smoke and sub-bass,” adds Tom Banham, the duo's other half. “It suits us perfectly.”
Asking questions of a club scene steeped in history but lagging slightly in recent years has obviously paid off. Unchartered success has granted it a continually expanding reach and enough breathing space to keep people guessing, booking two or three top acts at a time or a single choice DJ to smash out a six-hour set. But don't thank the boys in charge, the night's success is all down to the dancefloor, Chris concludes.
“We love our crowd, and without them we'd be nothing,” he adds. “They're clued-up people who know what they're listening to, who love the DJs we put on and who get excited by all the right things. They're energetic, smart and know how to have a good time.”