Review: Troupe – 8.11.13
Arguably the biggest party Troupe has thrown this year, headline DJs MK, Josh Butler and Chesus were guaranteed to pull in a well-hyped crowd. An excursion to the historical Electric Brixton venue on this occasion promised to be a night not to be missed.
Even by 23:30 the queue had already amassed, stretching down toward the end of the street. Inside Chesus lays the foundations delivering us Homework’s very large 2012 release ‘Confessing’ and sticks on the successful ‘Beam Me Up’ as Scuba’s classic synths fill the auditorium. Chesus keeps it real with vinyl mixing, though noticeable technical issues with the decks relegated a very frustrated Chesus to digital mixing for the remainder of his set. While classic cuts of house fill the main room – namely Simonelli’s 1993 hit ‘Do You Feel Me’ (Jazz trumpet included), things are switched up a bit in room 2 with Nu-Birth’s garage anthem ‘Anytime’ and more foreboding numbers from the likes of New York Transit Authority’s ‘95’ (a nice tip of the hat to the recent NYTA appearance at Troupe – Brixton Jamm). Chesus amps it up with harder cuts of deep house, Ben Sims’ ‘Something’ pounds away with strong undercurrents of techno – a pre-empt to the techno-influenced set we later experience from MK. Chesus finishes strong with Animal Youth’s sub-heavy ‘Crackle’ and his own signature track ‘Special’ (released on label-to-watch Local Talk back in January) . The crowd is mixed; with Brixton’s fair share of jacked, tattooed skin heads (I’ve never had a problem with them myself) converging into shufflers sliding in their own self-designated corners, and into London’s very own Supreme-clothed-Nike-high-tops-deep-house fraternity. The dynamic is fine.
The hour has come, man of the moment MK steps up to a hysteric crowd, the energy is electric. Opening his set with some gritty funk he quickly dives straight in with his huge remix of Wankelmut’s ‘Jungle In My Head’, to which the room exploded with an accompanying acapella. Following on from the emotive sounds of Emma-Louise and piano stabs, MK drops into darker waters of Maceo Plex’s ‘Going Back’. Meanwhile a fairly empty room 2 is churning out big room chicago house, competing basslines fight between the doorway, while MK digs deep with a cut from the inimitable Armand Van Helden with his ‘Witch Dokter The Possessed’ as well as JMX’s suitably titled ‘The Hardcore Track’.
Hailing from LA also, Annabel Englund makes an appearance, assisting MK in the festivities by singing along to her Summer soundtrack ‘Reverse Skydiving’ with Hot Natured, as well as MK’s selections, later dropping his remixes of ‘Thirteen Thirtyfive’ and Summer anthem ‘Look Right Through’. Englund entertains us with her body gyrations and seductive flick of the hair (quite probably a past model for L’Oreal – I wouldn’t put it past her). The live PA provides for more spectacle and overall I feel added positively to the dynamic, though it begs the question how much of the budget was flushed on paying an attractive blonde woman simply to sing karaoke and glamourously saunter around the stage…MK reigns the crowd back in with a VIP of ‘White Noise’ toward the final leg of his set. The return of zebra dancers adds some movement on stage, as well as keeping the men of the room visually occupied.
Working towards the 3am mark MK drops perhaps his magnum opus ‘Burning’. Other bangers included Tapesh & Kant’s ‘Ey Yo’ and Route 94’s ‘My Love’. Though the set consisted of purely laptop DJing with no attention to the decks nor headphones, it cannot be denied that MK’s selection was pretty on point. To end his fairly euphoric set he toys with subsidences of ‘Burning’ to go straight into Subfocus’ ‘Turn It Around’.
The advent of Troupe’s set brought with it an MC to keep the crowd attentive. Troupe supply their typically bass-heavy antics delivering many drops and many breakdowns to keep things moving forward. The sounds of Mauro Picotto grace room 2 as we hear quality tech house from the young Max Gray. Meanwhile Troupe drop relative new-comer Clean Bandit’s ‘A+E’ to free things up mid-way through their set. Deelux Audio are killing it once again in room 2 with homage to Tale Of Us and the recent success of the Ten Walls project.
Pushing through to the last couple of hours is the fast-rising DJ and producer Josh Butler. He opens with Dene Anthony’s ‘Peace & Harmony’ (definitely worthy of a second spin after Chesus dropped it earlier) to reinvigorate the dance floor. Shortly after Persica’s ‘A Trip With Lucy’ gives some much-needed room to breathe, while all-too-familiar square synths come back to guide us home. Refined mixing, selection and track order really put Butler up there, he’s had a brilliant. Shy on 5am Butler drops his own ‘Got A Feeling’ which garners a more than lively response. Deelux Audio are still going strong with Kolombo’s sultry funked up ‘My Own Business’ and a sly slip in of a remix of Outkast’s ‘Caroline’.
For the last hour Butler delivers banger after banger, the iconic descending strings riff of Todd Terry’s ‘Jumpin’ take us back to 1994 New York, while the introspective night-time roller ‘Flashback’ (from the much slept-on Flashback EP from Rhadow) rest our ears. His latest headline release ‘Keep Movin’ does what it says on the tin, commanding authoritatively the still-packed room 1. Drawing to a close, Butler whips out some classic Sneak to shift the dancefloor with his 2005 release ‘Funky Rhythm’. For the last fifteen minutes he then takes us artfully to more progressive realms with Serf’s ‘Everything Is Alright’ and Faithless’ colossal land-mark track ‘Insomnia’.
Electric Brixton allowed for a large-scale type of production that was aided by on-stage dancing and PAs, yet I can’t help but feel more at home under the arches of Sidings; notwithstanding hats off to Troupe for pulling off another successful party and being willing to try different things out. Winning sets of the night have to be from MK and Josh Butler. Looking at Troupe’s calendar now it seems a Christmas hiatus is on the cards, but make sure you don’t sleep on their mid-January party with a killer line-up that includes Jimmy Edgar, Boddika, and Eliphino…