Regular Birmingham party goers will be fully aware that Leftfoot and Shadow City are both individual promoters in their own right who are vastly experienced in sourcing high quality eclectic combination of artists to grace their line ups across venues in the second city. With that in mind, the joining of forces to bring Bicep's live show to a sold out Boxxed was a mouth watering prospect.
The original date for this event was in December, however this was at the time when The Rainbow had it’s license initially revoked by the council. With the sad news that The Rainbow Venues will not be reopened, the space chosen for tonight was Boxxed, a 10,000 square ft warehouse just around the corner.
There’s something about Digbeth that just feels right for club culture. Huge industrial arches, brickwork and dark back streets add to the mood and character of the place. Arriving on a typically dull and cloudy day, the scene was set for a night of raving.
Arriving at the venue we took up a place on the raised terrace to get the perfect vantage point as the space began to fill with a diverse crowd to the sounds of the Leftfoot DJs.
When HAAi took to the decks the middle of the floor was warming up nicely, and it’s not surprising given the waves that the Australian DJ-producer has been making of late. We had only picked up on her name recently knowing that she was playing tonight, but after hearing her background we were intrigued to find out more.
The former vocalist and guitarist of a shoegaze and psyche band has a record collection full of world inspired drum beats and tripped out psychedelic flavours and has recently turned her hand to electronic music. In the hour slot tonight HAAi demonstrated her versatility to fine effect, getting the party moving to techno, house, acid and electro.
Opening up she took the bull by the horns with the rolling grooves of tunes like ‘Movement’ by Joy Marquez and Chris Lerman. Both the main floor and the terrace were now packed with bodies and to their delight they got to move to ‘Rollin’ & Scratchin’’ by Daft Punk, always great to hear that and particularly tonight on the crisp system in the venue.
After the perfect warm up, the anticipation was building for Bicep. They made their way on to the stage to the numerous controls that make up their live set. No strangers to Birmingham after playing multiple DJ sets for these promoters over the years, they have gained a great following who were eager to see what their live set would deliver.
Amidst the red lighting, the boys opened with a special intro, putting hairs of the neck on end, preceding to take us through an unbelievable experience of largely music from their self titled debut album.
What we love about Bicep is that they don’t pigeonhole themselves in to one specific sub-genre of electronic music, their sound is big, it’s energetic and it takes in influences from all forms of dance music across the ages. This in turn is evident in the crowd, the room was full of beaming faces, people joining arms and fist pumping as Bicep play the likes of ‘Aura’ and ‘Orca’, huge numbers with unmistakeable synths, big bass lines and shattering drums.
Sometimes live sets don’t always live up to expectations with electronic music, but this couldn’t be said about tonight, it felt natural and journey like, the atmospheric ‘Ayaya’ and ‘Drift’ giving the crowd a chance to catch their breath in between the madness of it all.
A personal highlight came when they played ‘Sacrifice’, their 2013 collaboration with Simian Mobile Disco, a gargantuan track that builds over four minutes into a crescendo of pure joy, leaving us lost in the lasers and positive energy.
Singles from the album such as the mesmerising ‘Rain’ and playful ‘Opal’ get an outing, much to the delight of the dance floor which has become united under their spell, but the real outpouring comes when ‘Glue’ is heard, the instantly recognisable melody, breakbeat and vocal that is a future classic and Bicep at their very best, demonstrating their wide ranging influences.
As they closed out with the slow burning ‘Vale’, they brought the perfect end to a live set that on reflection shows Bicep have the talent to be the next big live electronic UK act; genre defying and mass appealing, but 100% authentic.