Robert Hood @ Selective Hearing – A Review

Art & Culture

Glasses aren’t always the most practical things. Years ago I was accosted by a good friend, high on techno and unmentionables, amidst a seething crowd at a certain Butlins weekender. After jumping on my back and knocking the visual aids onto a beer-soaked carpet, his brother arrived and trod on them. Ever since there has always been some trepidation when it comes to wearing frames at night. 

It’s 1AM in an unmarked works unit, cast in the shadows of one of the largest office blocks in Salford Quays. Those fears have just come to fruition. All contorted jaw and crazy-eyes, an over-zealous female hedonist has snatched another pair of specs from their rightful place, and vanished into the crowd. Two minutes later and, after politely accosting her to recover the stolen goods before they can be fenced to another miscreant, I’m scrabbling about on the industrial floor, desperate to locate the lost essentials. 

Nevertheless, it’s difficult to fault the party. 

I find it hard to judge the current trend for ‘Secret Warehouse’ shindigs. In many ways it’s exciting to get down to heavy beats in a space usually reserved for anything but. Not least when you’re approaching Year 12 in a city and have been to every regular venue more times than is healthy. But after being blessed with memories of forcing entry into abandoned addresses for legitimately illegitimate soirees, the likes of which exist under the police radar, that excitement comes with confusion. 

For the most part the legal versions suffer from the same lack of organisation, bad sound and poor planning as their underground counterparts. After all, the locations are never designed to host dance events- both sonically and in terms of layout. Yet there’s one vital ingredient missing; the risk of being caught on premises, sans permission. Nevertheless, people seem to love the idea of buying a ticket to Destination Unknown, and for all intents and purposes tonight is proving the advocates right. 

With low ceilings made all the lower via some carefully positioned drapes, a makeshift bar big enough to combat Manchester’s notoriously heavy drinking population, an outdoor area that’s part-covered, all-smoky, and a tightly packed dancefloor offering very little room for DJs to escape from without being accosted once they’ve finished playing, Selective Hearing- one of the north’s finest promotion crews- have definitely got this one right. And that’s well before tonight’s headliner shows his face.

After being forced to cancel his last date for the same team at the back end of 2014, the expectation surrounding a Robert Hood set in the most fitting situation for a Robert Hood set has been tangible for weeks. If not months. One of Detroit’s finest purveyors of Detroit’s finest musical export, techno, if you want to see him anywhere then it’s probably in a building used for packing boxes and shifting crates of the non-vinyl variety. Unsurprisingly, then, he doesn’t disappoint (not that there was much risk of that). 

Following on from a somewhat frenetic warm up of staccato hi-hats and complex, detailed percussive accents set to 130BPM+ rhythms, the man himself steps up to the mark, as does the atmosphere. If crowds can ever be critiqued then in this instance three words will suffice; up for it. Fists punch the air, men scream like enthusiastic children on the best Christmas morning ever, and whistles, err, whistle. 

Within minutes we’re rolling on the kind of futurist tip that makes you wonder whether Hood was sent back from years to come to guide our ears into sounds they shouldn’t be exposed to yet, before that driving simplicity is married to the gospel tones of his alter-ego, Floorplan. Launching into euphoric vocal bomb after euphoric vocal bomb, once We Magnify His Name hits the roof is ready to come off. Emerging into the wholly fitting Never Grow Old, the title signifies the situation; we’ve all been here before, and will gladly forsake further Saturdays to do it again. Thankfully, then, with another of these discreet sessions scheduled for next month, that goal shouldn’t be hard to achieve. 

Martin Guttridge-Hewitt