review: Floating Points & Dego @ Patterns, Brighton

Art & Culture

For me, clubbing in Brighton has tended to be a complete waste of time. During the wilderness years that followed my 18th birthday, I would rock up at a variety of mediocre establishments, passport in one hand and Oranjeboom in the other, with equally disillusioned companions and together we’d slog through hours of shit music, shit people and shit alcohol, on some torturous and endless quest to find out why clubbing got so much hype.

Nightlife options in the last few years have been lacking. The mainstream clubs are invariably promoted and attended by people I don’t like. (I would give more details on such places but I’ve successfully obliterated them from my memory.) The Haunt, a live venue which has an enjoyable but repetitive 80s night, has mostly failed to impress me. So has The Green Door Store, where depending on the night, you could either encounter hundreds of bohemian teenagers, or a few grim-faced thirty-somethings, or group of people referred to locally as ‘the crusties’.

Audio was the only place that we could enjoy without regrets, having been a respectable nightlife institution for thirty years under John Holland. For reasons I’ve probably forgotten, it became the default endpoint for many of our hopeless outings. It wasn’t anything special but unlike its competitors in Brighton, the only time I left Audio with a bad taste in my mouth was because I had thrown up.

Luckily for me and my forlorn fellowship, this venerable establishment was reinvented in May as Patterns, and has since boasted a summer line-up of heavyweights such as Gilles Peterson, Space Dimension Controller, DJ Q and Wookie. Having been to a couple of these nights and left them surprisingly satisfied, Christmas had truly come early for me when I found out that the legendary Floating Points was making the trip down south.

I was unusually pumped for a night in my hometown. The don Dr. Shepherd, who has managed to pick up fans from all the nooks and crannies of music with his moody, groovy productions and sunshine-injected dance sets, would surely bring the medicine that Brighton’s drained nightlife desperately needed. Me and the fellowship were palpably hyped for a night of joyous indulgence in his free-range menu of disco, soul, funk and latin.

Arriving necessarily early at 11pm, we quickly conquered the front-and-centre section of Patterns’ dark downstairs room – otherwise empty at that point – and settled in for the night. Behind the decks, Floating Points seemed slightly jarred by the sight of our unbridled enthusiasm so early on. But characteristically, he shaped his set in response to his audience, so that a perfect correlation between the energy of the music and that of the crowd emerged.

It’s that intuitive mastery of his music and his audience that makes Floating Points such a killer act. Like some benevolent dictator, he manages to take complete charge of the crowd and the club and spread joy to every corner. When the guy on the lights tried to lower the disco ball at the start of the set, he was berated by Floating Points and a chorus of his supporters. It was immediately withdrawn. And at the end, when the good doctor winded down his set and gestured to the crowd that he was too tired to continue, everyone accepted his decision despite it only being 4am.

To be fair to the man, he had pulled off one of the most energetic sets I’ve ever witnessed and never failed to dance harder than everyone in the crowd. The seamlessness and spontaneity of his mixing gave the night an unreal buzz that permeated everyone in the room. Inevitably, I chatted a lot of shit with a lot of strangers and it was hard to ignore the ecstasy on their faces (which I’m sure wasn’t entirely drug-induced). When I asked these happy punters if they liked the night, I was met with one of two reactions: ‘Yeahhh Flopo is my man!’ or ‘Don’t know him bro, but this is the shit!’

You’d be disappointed if you expected deep house bangers, but that’s not where the magic of his selecting lies. There’s something very innocent and organic about Shepherd’s brand of soul and disco that promises pure, guilt-free jiving. You’d have to be a real arsehole not to like it.

So a successful night, in sum, for the fledgling Patterns, though it’s clear that the venue is still finding its feet. One of Audio’s best features, the smoking terrace, has now been halved in size and now barely seats ten people. I also got the feeling that Dego – another stellar act who is worth seeing in his own right – was slightly wasted in the upstairs room. On the few occasions I ventured up there, I was struck by how quiet the speakers were and how bare the room felt. Downstairs with Flopo was inevitably overpacked, but that only enhanced the sweat-infused fun. I left the club in a daze, and could barely believe I was in Brighton and not London.

With Detroit Swindle, Michael Mayer and Leon Vynehall on Patterns’ books in the next couple of months, it’s worth taking a summer trip to the seaside and experiencing the new face of Brighton’s nightlife.

Billy Sawyers