There’s definitely a sense of intrigue and excitement, when Shadow city and Leftfoot collaborate together for an evening of music. The two Birmingham brands, have strived to showcase live musicians and DJs with a diverse taste for music, to Birmingham‘s growing underground music scene. Those familiar with Shadow City, will have noticed their elevation and dedication to growing the foundations they laid back in 2011, when they first started. They recently introduced the very talented live electronic musician ‘Ross from friends’, who’s been enjoying a recent rise in to the electronic music scene. Moreover, last summer saw Shadow City host a stage at one of the nation’s more recognisable small boutique festival; Farr festival, bringing in the likes of ‘Chaos in the CBD’ and ‘Booka shade’ to name a few.
Meanwhile, Leftfoot have pioneered and paved the way for more leftfield and soulful nights in Birmingham, ever since their inception back in 2000. They’re a brand which has always aimed to bring in particularly talented and special artists; welcoming musicians such as, Roy Ayers, Mount Kimbie, Pimp sessions, Jazzie B and Mr scruff to name a few. Leftfoot and Shadow City collaborations in the past, have showcased DJs with more of an experimental and varied music selection, which, in many ways has challenged Birmingham’s quite established tech-house scene. So, to hear Shadow city and Leftfoot were collaborating again, we were keen to see what DJs like; Gilles Peterson, Motor city drum ensemble, Palms Trax and Quantic, had to offer.
Across Birmingham’s highly acclaimed nightclub; Rainbow venues, were three rooms of music, with each room expressing a significant feature as the last. Rainbow’s rooftop terrace offers a skyline view of Birmingham’s city center, something which any nightclub would be dying to have. The slightly quieter music and sitting area present a slower, less hectic feel to the nightclub. Although, the impressive crowd drawn throughout the evening, was more than to down the quality of talented local Birmingham DJs. The terrace was predominately held down by one of Birmingham’s younger independent parties, born out of a desire to showcase more live, soulful music. They too, have developed a great relationship with Leftfoot, given their similar passions, and as a result opened their doors to some fantastic electronic producers such as; Harvey Sutherland, Max Graef, Chaos in the CBD, Athlete Whippet and Henry Wu. Moodfix resident; Tilly, eased listeners perfectly in to the night, amongst Birmingham’s skyline back drop. Moodfix head honcho; Jack Barber and fellow resident Lewis Ryan, did very well to draw in an edger crowd in the middle of evening, amongst the big names in the Warehouse and Blackbox. One song which naturally had everyone singing towards the end of the night was Midland’s anthem ‘Final Credits’, a highlight of 2016.
However, in spite the beautiful setting and talented local DJs on the terrace, downstairs, was the focal point of interest. Rainbows famous intimate space; Blackbox, characterised by its low ceilings and immersive feel, played host to Worldwide FM and Brownswood founder; Gilles Peterson. Gilles’ cultured the crowd with a selection of some of his finest records, influenced from around the globe. Warming the crowd with some feel-good funk n soul beats had everyone enticed, as Gilles’ introduction signalled first big headliner on the bill for the night. As his set went on, Gilles’ truly then began to showcase his range, bringing in some African influenced techno characterised by the consistent low and high pitch African drums, whilst also blending jungle and dubstep. His range kept listeners entertained and didn’t disperse anyone’s interest, a sign of a great selector.
Following on from Gilles’ eclectic taste, is a toll order for any DJ, but Motor City Drum Ensemble (MCDE), perfectly settled and soothed the crowd in the Blackbox, following on from Gilles. MCDE’s raw cuts album back in 2010, showcased what he was all about, bridging the gap between house music, with soul and jazz, and his set, truly reflected those vibes. His set rarely faded from interest, consistently swinging back and forth between heavily instrumentally sampled house tracks, with some jazz and soul influence, which he often used to settle the crowd, from the more intense classic house tracks, and the occasional drumcode techno. Techno rarely fails to disappoint. The small blend of techno stirred the crowd to a frenzy at times, as it wasn’t expected. I cast my mind back, to an interview with Motor City saying he flicking back to some techno generally goes down well.
Closing the evening, can sometimes be a difficult task for a DJ, as the crowd never really want the night to end. Screams of ‘one more tune’, are a common theme of most raves towards the end of night, and so it was the task of Palms Trax and Quantic, to leave a lasting memory for the Birmingham crowd. Quantic is a phenomenally talented musician with an extensive ability to play many instruments. Palms Trax, eclectic taste for worldly sounds from Latin America, and Africa, with the added attention to experimental electronic music has earn’t him a point of interest within the industry. With two DJs clashing in both rooms, it was Palms trax who seemed to draw the greater crowd. Palms trax’s delicate, smooth transitions of melodic, banging techno, for the first half hour of his set, eased the keen ravers into his set. His smoothness hooked the crowd tremendously for the first half of hour, until eventually dropping Henrik Schwarz remix of ‘Kuar’, which sensationally brought the party back life. It’s catchy, rhythmic Portuguese lyrics resonating throughout song, along to a jumpy hard bassline , are hard not to enjoy. The introduction of Kuar, certainly reminded the room that the party wasn’t over!
What’s impressive about the DJs mentioned, is their cultured taste, and curiosity to bring an eclectic blend of inspiring music to their sets. Palms and Gilles in particular, have shown their broad music knowledge from previous sets, and we can always count on them to continue.