Tacky Romwe sunglasses, DMCs in the bathroom queue, and the sweet and nostalgic drumfire of a heavy bassline – the Baltic Triangle’s cavernous warehouses are bursting with excitable dance music enthusiasts this weekend. Typically only running for two days, the weekender now stretches from Friday to Sunday, sating appetites with standout performances including MELE, DAN SHAKE and DJ STORM.
With a three o’clock start to the event, some smaller, local artists have no option but to play to a sparse Camp and Furnace, working the decks fervently as folk shuffle in, sheepish and wondering where the party is. Despite the crowd dearth, all artists remain self-assured in their ability to command a room, each claiming their own groove, embracing this rite of passage essential to all up and coming acts at a fezzy.
Strolling into the late afternoon hours, attendees filter through the doors en-masse in what can only resemble the queues at Zara following lockdown. Upon interviewing one of them during the vibrant NUUSIC set at District, I’m talked through the unmatched feeling of love at events like these. His advice for his red stripe-infused counterparts? “Have fun, party safely and don’t be weird.”
I’m not sure if the girls performing a series of crunches and press-ups in the middle of the dance floor fall under this metaphorical umbrella, as a composed DOWD (a budding local DJ) remains focused against all odds, continuing to work his magic onstage despite the CrossFit class materialising before him. His set is playful, retro, some of the songs conjuring the sense of being in a life-sized human re-enactment of space invaders, through pseudo-futuristic beats and warped melodies.
Each venue is a taste of something different, the drum and bass pulsating through District creates a gloriously dirty and chaotic environment, fans squeezing into a dark room to throw their bodies around in a way that’s not been possible for some time. The feeling of collective relief, blowing off steam as though in answer to the confusion and mental tax of the past year, is unshakeable.
PEACH and LEON VYNEHALL are also notable acts posted in Furnace, playing to hundreds before sundown in an hors d’oeuvre for the havoc the night’s acts will undoubtedly bring. Neither artists stinge on the familiar and hefty bass we love to hear, strategically designed to reverberate comfortably off warehouse walls like these. Vynehall’s set tells a story, sporadically incorporating string instruments and minor keys into the mix to remind us that electronic music can be as thoughtful as it is exciting. Dan Shake provides more melody (punctuated sparsely by inoffensive alarms and sirens). Having the most energy of anyone on stage, he appears noticeably giddy to be in the room, releasing smoke cannons into an unassuming crowd, who welcome the change in weather without complaint.
Overall, the event serves as a reminder that the world may slowly be going back to some form of normality, at least in terms of putting on your favourite kecks and going for a boogie. Although, with the news already moving on, bubbling again with familiar stories of human-induced chaos, it’s not as though normal has ever meant anything. Perhaps that’s why we dance in the first place.