Why So Serious, Glasgow?

Lauren Martin on how to have fun – Joker, Girl Unit, and James Blake at Numbers, 05/11/10

I cannot remember the last time a Numbers event in Glasgow was quiet. Their nights seem to thrive on word of mouth and hype alone, which speaks volumes to the ear-to-the-ground bookings from the Numbers collective. If there is a DJ tearing up a club somewhere in the world, or a bedroom producer about to go stellar, Numbers snap them up for a performance that leaves people bragging about “that time I saw so-and-so in a basement club years ago”. The triple booking of James Blake, Girl Unit and Joker provided another of these on-point events, as the residents took the night off to hand over the reins to three of arguably the hottest producers in the UK. By 11.30pm – typically an awkward time where people only slowly begin to trickle in from the neighbouring bars – the Sub Club is heaving. People are buying doubles to avoid queuing twice for drinks. The Numbers crowd of boys in backpacks and new eras with girlfriends in leopard print leggings and gold hoop earrings are out in force – styled but not fashion freaks, eager music fans rather than head-nod snobs – and they’re fighting to get to the front of the DJ booth.

James Blake is the baby-faced darling of down-tempo electronic music thanks to his stunning releases on R&S and Hessle Audio, and it is his two hour set that opens the night. He builds the atmosphere with his own productions mixed in with off-beat dubstep, eerie techno and two Beyonce hits chopped and screwed into ambient electronica. Those were for the ladies, clearly. But it worked. His new single Limit To Your Love – a cover of a Feist song of the same name – rings through the soundsystem and gets a great sing-along, but it would have been all the better performed live to break up the DJ set and create a ‘one to remember’ moment. Girl Unit is up next, and his set is perfectly timed in every respect – his label Night Slugs has been dropping impressive releases for months, and his own record Wut is something of an unofficial party anthem at Numbers already. The crowd are dying for him to play it and, after an hour of banging techno and bass-laden gutter anthems, he drops it. And it gets re-wound three times. The grin on Girl Units face when he sees hundreds of faces scream in anticipation over one of his own productions nearly bursts at the seams, and it is all anyone can talk about afterwards. This is the kind of crowd reaction that makes DJs love playing in Glasgow.

Joker is on last, but his set is short-lived as the fire alarm goes off before he can play more than a few records. With the Sub Club evacuated for over half an hour – and a slew of sweaty topless guys and half-cut girls waiting out in the freezing cold – the vibe is somewhat killed. Once back inside however, Joker’s set is extended until 4am to make up for the unexpected break, and the punters get more than their fair share of wobbly dubstep bangers and Joker’s own productions, such as 2009’s hit Snake Eater. It feels though that Joker hasn’t made a new record in a long, long time, as his own sounds feel slightly dated in comparison to the fresh offerings of James Blake and Girl Unit. For a club so keen to push new exciting sounds, Joker seems like a relatively stale booking in with the rest of the line up. The night however is a hot and messy success, and Numbers prove once again that they are one of the best nights in Glasgow by a very long mile.

James Blake’s CMYK EP is out now on R&S. Check him out at www.myspace.com/jamesblakeproduction. Girl Unit’s I.R.L EP is also out there on Night Slugs, get them at www.myspace.com/girl_unit.


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