Whereas other Ibiza clubs can often be achingly sterile and controlled environments, Sankeys has always prided itself on being that bit different and doing things in its own inimitable way. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but what can’t be doubted is the promoter’s dedication to the scene.
Now well into its fourth year in Ibiza, the Playa d’en Bossa nightspot finally seems to have settled on a consistent run of weekly events, a move that’s seen them corner a sizeable selection of the visiting UK crowd in the process.
Promoters such as Magna Carta, VIVa, We Love and CUFF seem almost tailor-suited to its dark and dingy vibes, but arguably its most intriguing party of the past few years is Tribal Sessions; a predominantly house and techno-themed night that’s notable for championing a sound that’s not necessarily in line with Ibiza’s raison d’etre.
Celebrating the past and the present, Tribal Sessions originated in Sankeys’ original Manchester base, and soon became the club’s flagship night. It’s a loosely adhered to theme, but its branding essentially revolves around a host of signs that abrasively ask, ‘ARE YOU TRIBAL?’ and some feathered ‘tribal’ headgear.
We’ll park the ‘ruffle a few feathers’ pun right there, but on the basis that the club is rammed by the time DJ Mag rocks up for the Opening Party at 1am, it would suggest that a sizable contingent is more than happy to lap up the Tribal experience. Parties during the opening week are busy affairs the island over, but it’s still heartening to note the crowd’s dedication to a genuinely exciting musical cause.
Names such as Redshape, Blawan and Argy probably wouldn’t cause as much as a whimper over the other side of town, but at Sankeys tonight they’re very much the main draws.
Quality acts, however, are a feature throughout all three rooms tonight. Over in the Basement, Carlo Lio is reminding us just why he’s so highly thought of in these parts, unleashing a set that’s punctuated with sprightly tech house grooves.
A bit punchier than we maybe anticipated, it’s nonetheless a suitable introduction to a night that looks set to be full-on throughout. Before we know it we’re in the Basement, where Secondcity is laying down a suitably frantic set.
A regular on Radio 1, his UK/Chicago house style offers brief respite, even if it’s not always in line with sounds elsewhere. A younger contingent seem enthralled by his track selection, and we can’t help but feel that we’ll be hearing his name a lot more as the season wears on.
And so to The Lab, a room that Sankeys seems to reserve for straight-up techno legends at its Tribal events. Last year they hosted names such as Dave Clarke, Jeff Mills and Derrick May, and while a host of similarly-inclined veterans are penciled in for the rest of the season (Planetary Assault Systems and Mr G to name but two), tonight is the turn of some of the contemporary scene’s most impressive names. The name on everyone’s lips, however, is Blawan.
The UK selector has been trumped as one of the most impressive techno acts of the past couple years, a fact that’s attributable to his work at labels such as Hessle Audio and R&S, his Berghain affiliations and tracks such as 'Getting Me Down' and 'Why they Hide Their Bodies Under my Garage'.
Tonight’s set lies somewhere between the middle of both productions. Filled with groove but also imbued with pounding kick-drums, it’s somewhat low on Blawan-endorsed oddities but high on technical skill and speaker-testing techno. Arguably pursuing a somewhat lighter agenda to the one he’s accustomed to, his one-and-a-half-hour slot is still a veritable delight from the start — and one that both educates and tests a sizable proportion of those in attendance.
Redshape’s live set though, is the cherry on top. The Berliner has long proved himself an adaptable force in the production world, and his time in the booth pulls no punches, as he gives us tantalizing glimpses into his own impressive discography.
Admittedly, sections of the crowd look somewhat perplexed as he starts on a fairly eerie and experimental tip — while another corner of the room are egging him to up the ante even further. It’s a slightly perplexing sight, but Redshape handles the situation with ease, drawing on mounds of experience as he teases the crowd with a wide range of eclectic cuts.
Inevitably, with so much choice on offer, clashes are somewhat inevitable, and though we only manage to catch glimpses of Eduardo de la Calle, Dense & Pika and Argy, all three seem to be rising to the occasion, the latter getting a particularly fervent response when he plays Josh Wink’s ubiquitous 'Talking to You'. Forward-thinking, diverse and constantly interesting, Tribal Sessions most definitely isn’t your average night out in Ibiza. And that’s just how we like it.
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