I am defrosting. Sweat is oozing out of every pore and my shirt is a tad moist. The weekend is leaking out of me and I am dipping in and out of consciousness at my desk. I’m considering starting a “The Guy Who Plays Tony Off of Hollyoaks” fan club and making a bonfire out of all my trousers and fully throwing myself into a jeggings phase.
You can probably tell that my brain has been scrambled to absolute fkkk and with good reason; I’ve only just recovered from what was one of the best raves of 2015 in Trouble Vision with Feel My Bicep and Robert Hood's Floorplan at Oval Space.
When your best mate hasn’t slept from the night before and you are drinking cough syrup cider, locked outside her house for an hour while she swirls around in the ether of someone’s random house party, you begin to think things like: “So this is what it must be like to be friends with me” and “This night might turn out kinda shit.”
But after boshing a few bottles of spritz, a Dr Oetker pizza and the rest; we were ready to go.
I’ve been to Oval Space a good few times before and was a tad worried because in the past when it hadn’t been busy it felt a bit lacking in atmosphere. But the minute I stepped into the cauldron of heat and purple blue light I knew that something more special was afoot.
We got there as Bicep had just started and already the crowd were a unified mess of bumping fists and blissful faces. We didn’t even manage to take our first sip of a vodka redbull pint before the Irish duo had already torn into some bangers with bass deeper than an Atlantis burial chamber. And it just didn’t quit. 2 hours passed in an instant as they flitted between deep, rolling basslines and stomping kicks without breaking a sweat. With their increasingly iconic tri-arm logo raised above centre stage (Shouts to Larj Hans for the artwork!) and the ever more frenetic crowd, the night gave the impression of a fervent religious cult. Except everyone was backing hench glasses of vodka redbull.
Keeping it more focused on house and techno than branching off into some of their more eclectic tastes, it felt like a set of focused energy: stripped back and hard hitting. But ultimately, y’know, it was just really fkkking good dance music on a fkkking massive system that felt ace to dance to.
Straight up next was Matthew Johnson with his live set. He brought more straightforward techno to the Oval Space crowd and left many punters around me looking wild-eyed and lost in the music. There were obviously a few clumps of people who’d never heard of him before but by the end it looked like he’d won over a lot of new fans.
Then it moved on to Robert Hood with one of his many aliases: Floorplan. Having only recently converted to his gospel-infused techno sound (which if you haven’t heard, listen below), I was really intrigued to see how he’d fill up a whole set with such a niche style. Although he didn’t wedge in as much of the gospel singing samples that I love so much on his records, he still finished with some champing techno worthy of the night. All through his set I saw people clapping along to his music, their black silhouettes bathed in a wash of white light.
Oval Space definitely has one of the best smoking areas in London, and as I trundled out into it I spotted a lot of serene faces gazing out at the strangely quite beautiful view of the Bethnal Green gasholders as it towered over them. I even managed to have this great conversation:
(Enter Random Linford, walking intently towards us)
Random Linford: Hi…are you my new best friend?
RL: (to my friend) Is…he my new best friend?
Me: Do you want to add me on Facebook?
RL: No, I’m still stuck on Bebo.
(Random Linford exits, stage left)
And that is the beauty of smoking rooms, in a nutshell.
So once again, the Trouble Vision boys done good. And with the news that Bicep are set to take up a summer residency at XOYO, now more than ever is a good time to catch them tearing up a dancefloor near you.