Cirucs, East Village Arts Club
26th July 2014
Tonight’s lineup for the latest installment if Yousef’s CIRCUS is enormous. Innervisions boss DIXON makes his first appearance in Liverpool since topping Resident Advisor’s much lauded DJ Of The Year poll in 2013, and GREEN VELVET, the man behind the behemoth that is Bigger Than Prince, completes a knockout one two of headliners. Dutch future house champion TOM TRAGO and One Records honcho SUB-ANN aren’t to be snarled at either, with Yousef and his team flexing their clout as the most forward thinking and balanced bookers in town.
The redevelopment of The East Village Arts Club is still a polarizing topic among Liverpool’s clubnight crowd, with arguments that the shiny new walls and crowded, expensive bars detracts from that gritty, DIY aesthetic that once made it great. With its enormous stage and concave, forward facing dance floor though, it feels purpose built for nights like this. It certainly marks a contrast to the increasingly dominant warehouse scene, where its easy to spend your whole evening getting fucked up, trying to get off with a bird, or just generally ruining your chances of getting that American Visa without ever knowing who the person behind the decks is. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing of course, but there is something immeasurably powerful about a room full of people dancing towards the same beat, the same purpose, as the sounds permeating from the speakers create a tangible sense of being part of something bigger than yourself.
Tom Trago is an icon among his house-leaning Dutch motherland and like his recorded output to date; rhythm is central to his set tonight, concealing more immediate dancefloor anthems inside beats almost overwrought with intensity. The top-shelf productions of his own Use Me Again and Steppin’ Out and their instantaneous euphoria are usurped in favour of a deeper sound that looks to slowly nudge its audience towards that level of sonic bliss.
DIXON steps in after an obligatory cool-set-bro hug with Trago, with a slow burning, progressive leaning set more akin to the likes of Digweed, rather than fellow Berliner Ben Klock and his Panorama Bar contemporaries. Holding back on the kickdrums and those widescreen, techno downpours, Dixon instead offers slow, gentle swells of gratification in a way that builds and builds but never quite releases. This exercise in restraint clearly has one eye on the clock, which with over two hours remaining is evidence of a DJ with an appreciation for the bigger picture of the clubnight experience in its entirety, rather than the short window of his own set. There is a reason he was named the best DJ in the world just several months ago, it’s a testament to his own versatility that if he was on last tonight we would likely be treated to something almost entirely different.
The eccentric Green Velvet approaches bearing a fittingly green Mohawk, smiling serenely behind his spherical glasses as if he has just stepped into a wedding reception. Employing his trademark, snarled vocals over the likes of Lazer Beams, Flash and the aforementioned Bigger Than Prince, he provides those moments of rapture the rest of the evening had been teasing at throughout a blistering two hour performance. It seems staggering that these songs came out in the mid 90s, sounding every bit like electronic music does in 2014 and holding their own alongside the likes Paul Woolford’s Erotic Discourse as if we are listening to one of those end of year podcasts. It’s telling that a recent Hot Since 82 remix has brought Bigger Than Prince back into a new generation of listeners so seamlessly, as Green Velvet proves that as timeless as he is as a producer, he can absolutely keep up with the relentless forward momentum of electronic music and maintain his position as a truly world class DJ.