Friday, 5 October 2012

UNTITLED Launch Night - Live Review (For BidoLito!)

HiFI (Formerly Binary Cell)
27th, 28th September

In an interview with Bido Lito! last month, UNTITLED founder Hasan Abbasi talked at length about his ambitions for his new night and for himself as a promoter with admirable confidence and infectious enthusiasm. Namedropping the likes of Abandon Silence, EatYourGreens and Chibuku, UNTITLED set itself the ambitious target of becoming a vital component of an already thriving Liverpool electronic music scene.

Residents of Liverpool will know that the city is already littered with student nights promising one pound drinks and the chance to meet mini-me from Austin Powers. Head to concert square any given weeknight and you will fall victim to a swarm of tired promo staff trying to coax you into their dry iced nightmares. With a handful of new nights launching every term, you’d be forgiven for mistaken Hasan’s confidence, likeable though it is, for naivety
Based on strong ticket sales for the original launch in May last year, UNTITLED’s relaunch is made into a double header, spanning across the final weekend of September and hosted by Seel Street’s HiFi (formerly Binary Cell). With a capacity approaching 900, selling out both evenings would be a remarkable achievement.

Promising to please listeners of all electronic music, UNTITLED’s two night launch took advantage of the impressive pool of talented local DJs Liverpool has to offer. With residents drafted in from already established local nights like Abandon Silence, Waxxx, EatYourGreens and Discoteca Poca, UNTITLED did its best to make good on its promise of being one of the most eclectic nights in town.

The nights themselves are mostly enjoyable. The DJs are good, the atmosphere is friendly and excitable, and the crowd, though not quite as big as organisers might have hoped, is still large enough to create a bit of a buzz. Mike ‘HORZA’ Wilding particularly impresses with an abrasive and lively set, justifying his recent appearances at Outlook and Parklife festivals. Local drum and bass veteran ANDEE J provides an unlikely highlight as he reminds us that drum and bass isn’t dead just yet. Other DJs do their bit and are generally very good, doing their best to keep a lukewarm crowd dancing on their feet and not sat in the smoking area. However, the constant genre hopping and the many, many set changeovers eventually contribute to an unsettling lack of continuity, making it difficult to lose yourself in the evening and have a good time. The stairwell is often the busiest part of the venue, as people hop back and forth between floors in an attempt to find something that catered to their taste, making the spacious Hifi rooms feel more vacuous than ever.

Another stumbling block for the night is that the majority of the crowd consists of fans of going out, not fans of electronic music. Now you would be forgiven for thinking this sounds pretentious and conceited, but allow me to explain. Of course there is nothing wrong with these people, many Liverpool nights thrive on them. However, everything leading up to the weekend; the interviews, the social media and the nights themselves, saw UNTITLED try to distant itself from Liverpool student nights and from the people that enjoy them. What the organisers have failed to understand is that the first UNTITLED event last term, and the infamous Thugz Mansion house parties that it was born out of, consisted largely of students just looking to have a good time with their friends. By misunderstanding its market and by aiming at the wrong goalposts, UNTITLED has risked alienating a potentially wide and lasting student fan base and leaving itself with nothing at all.

In his interview last month, Hasan suggested that UNTITLED would one day settle alongside these nights as essential parts of Liverpool’s Electronic music scene, bringing fans of all styles of dance music under one roof. This unfortunately, is where it all falls down. These aforementioned nights don’t offer something for everyone - far from it. This is exactly why they are so good, and exactly why they are still thriving after two years. The reason these nights have such a loyal and committed following is that people go there to get away from an indifferent and generic crowd, to be welcomed into a scene that truly understands them and one that they truly understand. If these nights were to suddenly try and please everyone it would be a betrayal of everything that has made them so popular. I’m not trying to suggest that for example, jungle and deep house listeners are worlds apart. Of course they’re not. But when was the last time you danced to both on the same night?

It is altogether an enjoyable evening. Come three o’clock, everyone spills out onto Seel Street with a grin on their face.  But in Liverpool, with the right people, the right outfit, or the right drugs, it’s not hard to have a good night. With club nights and venues falling every month, and with so much choice around the city, a good night just doesn’t cut it anymore. It has to be memorable. With another night planned for Halloween, perhaps UNTITLED and its organisers need to try and do what Waxxx et al. all do so well: find an identity, find a niche and stick with it. At the moment, UNTITLED lives up to its name as the ‘night you can’t put a name to’, which sadly, might be its downfall. 

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