Secretsundaze Go Bang!
As sure as rain in the English summer and traffic jams stretching to the coast, for the last decade Londoners have enjoyed the August Bank Holiday in the company of Secretsundaze. In fact, it’s hard to remember what the seventh day of the week was like around this time before Giles Smith and James Priestley came along, such is the effect their party has had on the capital’s weekends. Formed with Kristophe Hofford back in 2001, their search for new and different venues in which to host their house music utopia has given them plenty of headaches over the years, and this Bank Holiday was sadly no different. But in the ashes of the London Pleasure Garden’s sad demise came a late switch to Camden’s Roundhouse and Proud, and with it one of Secretsundaze’s most iconic sessions as they upscaled to a festival-sized bash as Go Bang!
With its classic circular room and powerful acoustics, The Roundhouse has welcomed bands and acts over the years, from acid-drenched ‘happenings’ in the 60s and 70s to iconic gigs in the 90s and 00s, but rarely has it seen daylight in its cavernous space. With the skylights open, the room took on a completely different character as Smith and Priestley opened proceedings with the afternoon barely begun. Progressing down the road to Proud after ten pm, the hardiest of souls could steel themselves for close to sixteen hours of dancing before the night was over.
The roster of artists assembled were a blend of old heads and young guns, with a Secret Agency room showcasing up-and-comers Citizen, Wbeeza and Sei A, reinforcing one of Secretsundaze’s strengths over the years for unearthing new talent as much as they entice seasoned artists to the capital. Brawther’s one of the label’s recent recruits, having put out their debut EP last summer, and he’s become a fixture across Europe, at DC10 and Basics in coming weeks alone. His deep and warm selections set the scene for the debut of Sven Wiesemann, a prodigious talent whose live show found his room-filling house moving the slowly-filling room’s feet as the Bank Holiday started to come to life.
As if to signal the beginning of the party and the end of the warm-up, Motor City Drum Ensemble shifted gears with gusto, dropping Julio Bashmore’s Au Seve and Dennis Ferrer’s Where it’s at to send the throng into raptures, happily eschewing the ‘gig in London, must be cool’ rule, and laying down two hours of house music that showed why he’s on the lips of everyone from Moodymanc to Steve Bug. Despite their rarefied reputation, it’s easy to forget that Smith and Priestley’s m.o. has always put the dancefloor at its heart.
From then on, the evening occupied a steady climb in energy, even if the atmosphere was sometimes in flux as daytime arrivals flagged and the nocturnals had yet to fully populate the arena. Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet, showing his DJ chops were just as finely tuned as his production skills, chopped up house, techno and more broken beats, never quite fully threading a seamless line but never afraid to drop a weighty cut to revive the sea of bobbing and weaving heads.
As the last of the daylight ebbed away through the skylights and the dark took hold, the Roundhouse transformed from beautiful daytime space to a dark and sweaty enclosure, enveloping the crowd in a further cocoon of thumping kick drums and swaying melodies. Closing out the Roundhouse was Matthew Herbert, a bona fide UK house legend, bringing his box of classic vinyl to the floor. Much like Hebden before him, his set provided highs and lows equally, hopping genres from standard four-four to afro-infused and carribean drums, but where rawness sometimes prevailed, the momentum never lacked.
Staggering onto Proud proved a simple task, given the melee straining to get to the front of the queue. The ex-stables is a quirky venue, but after the majesty of the Roundhouse its booths and intimate dancefloor was a fitting contrast, even if it couldn’t hope to compete with either acoustic excellence or character. Head to head with the skills of Ben UFO and Levon Vincent in the main room, Youandewan and Ethyl’s freshest house proved an admirable battle, even for those that had stuck it out from the early afternoon.
A four o’clock finish meant those with the stamina to have survived the whole event won’t quite have been blinking in the dawn, but it’s fair to say their mondays may have been a little subdued in comparison. Secretsundaze’s summer odyssey created another memorable chapter in the capital’s nightlife folklore, finding another space to rank alongside their most revered. Spare a thought for Giles, James and the rest of the Sundaze crew though: they’d probably be taking down the disco ball on Monday afternoon. That’s the price of success.