Review: Stenny & Andrea at Vertigo

Art & Culture

Belfast is a funny old city. On one hand you have a lack of support for musical venues from a currently non-existent government that don’t see the obvious value in the thriving night time economy. On the other, you have a sea of new school promoters passionate to keep the Belfast scene thriving.

It’s a stark contrast, and one that is quite inspiring – a refusal to lie down and accept things as they are, and a devotion to challenge the status quo of electronic music in the city.

Vertigo, looked after by Heads, Conall Donegan and Marty Moran, is one of the young prototypes that seeks to illuminate the ‘we only wear black’, dull, big room techno landscape with intimate flourishes of IDM, hardcore and bass. Usually the threesome dictate the sound themselves, choosing to use their events as a place to support local artists, but tonight they’ve opted for a double booking. 

Ilian Tape doublet, Stenny and Andrea, have been friends from early, having both grown up in the beautiful architectural surroundings of Turin. Coincidently, tonight is the first time the two have gone back-to-back for three hours. 

Excitement hangs in the air, given the reputation that precedes them. Andrea’s latest release on the Munich label is quite brilliant; uniting broken techno, glitchy soundscapes and atmospheric ambience that engross and be-witch with their many faces.

The many faced beast is something that both Andrea and Stenny’s sets can refer to. It can be difficult when debuting in a new city. Upon chatting to Stenny after the show, he informs me that for the first hour he was simply trying to suss out the crowd. Belfast, a city usually dominated by house and techno, has increasingly enjoyed the sounds of breaks and left field experimentation as the norm continues to be challenged. 

The first hour consists of down-tempo bass and deck experimentation. At one point Stenny plays a glitching, malfunctioning kick that blends with a wub that wouldn’t sound out of place in Plastic People. It incites animalistic behaviour as a loud “fuck me!” makes itself heard just over my shoulder.
A scheduled back-to-back can play out funny. There are those who believe that it should never be scheduled, that it should exist only in the moment – an impromptu experience that the wide eyed raver will recall upon conversation of those special nights. Here, however, it worked perfectly. 

The chemistry and early friendship between the two was clear for all to see. 

The highlight of the evening arrives the moment the hardcore gets involved. There are few tracks out there that display the meatiness of Kev Bird’s – This Is A Trip. It really has it all. Euphoric atmospherics, huge breaks and rave inspired synth stabs. I couldn’t stop moving. Neither could the rest of the room.

The final hour consisted of high velocity kicks, sweat and lots of “what a booking!” comments as an ocean of bum bags and 6 panels sway to and fro. There have been a few wonderful bookings in Belfast of late, but this one is going to take some beating.