Every techno and house lover has a DJ bucket list of acts to see. We all have those dream concerts, gigs that you feel you have to see before you die, music that touches you and you need to be in the presence of. For me, one of these acts is Ten Walls, who along with Maribou State and Will Saul, played The Arches on 20 March. Being such a fan, and having waited so long to see not only Ten Walls, but Maribou State, I was wary of the night not living up to my expectations. I should not have been concerned.
Ten Walls has had an explosive two years. After the releases of his Gotham EP on Innervisions, the Requiem EP on Life and Death, and the epic Walking With Elephants EP, he quickly established a name for himself as a connoisseur of euphoric melodies that translate just as well on an iPod as they do on vinyl or at a live set.
Marijus Adomaitis started playing as Ten Walls unattached to his own name. The magnanimous DJ, hailing from Lithuania, owned the festival season in 2014, playing all around Europe, including Ibiza. His background in bassoon permeates his work, bringing an eclectic element to his major anthems ‘Gotham’ and ‘Walking With Elephants’. In an interview with Resident Advisor, Adomaitis highlighted the importance of the dancefloor in the creation of his music, and how a track develops after the breakdown. This is perhaps why he was able to create such an intense atmosphere at The Arches, one that nobody I was there with wanted to leave.
I wish I remembered more of Will Saul; being slightly intoxicated and frequenting the smoking area for most of the beginning of the night, I didn’t really get going until Maribou State started playing. The music kept to the laid-back, electronic style that the London-based duo are known for, but as soon as they played their recently dropped track ‘Rituals’, the tone was set. The energy reached a crescendo, and the room was ready for some serious house music. I remember looking over at a friend at one point to see a look of sheer delight on her face as the song reached its peak. It’s a reaction I’d never elicited from her, having played Maribou State to her multiple times, which perhaps speaks to the band’s ability to create such a chilled out vibe on recordings, and the potential to get people excited when playing a gig. They did a wonderful job at setting the tone of the night for the headliner, getting the crowd going just perfectly. Their set finished just as three quarters of the room started to come up, and we were ready for Ten Walls.
The first thing I noticed about Ten Walls was that it was blurry. That wasn’t anything to do with Adomaitis’ music though, just the several gin and tonics I’d had in all the excitement of going off to see my favourite DJ. An aspect of Ten Walls sets that is frequently noted is the heavy, melodic nature of his mixes, and this certainly wasn’t absent at The Arches. It created an inclusive atmosphere, one that seemed to draw you in. This was only countered by the fact that only one arch was open, and so the space seemed relatively empty. While this meant that the smoking area wasn’t overly crowded, it was fairly easy to get a drink, and there was only one incident of being elbowed in the ribs, it also meant that the space didn’t seem filled up. This is a problem I always have with The Arches, and so I didn’t really allow it to make much of an impact on the evening. How could I, when the set was so perfect?
The atmosphere was palpable; the basslines – which Adomaitis has cited as one of the principal differences between Ten Walls and his previous projects – pounding, and the melodies uplifting. When he finally, finally played ‘Walking With Elephants’, the room was about ready to explode, and explode it did. It was as if everyone I was with physically reacted at the same time and in the same way. Arms up, screaming: a release of tension that Adomaitis had been working up to all night.
In a word, the night was magical. I am loathe to use such a cliché term, describing the night as a perfect experience of euphoric house and incredible vibes, but that is the closest I can come. It was perfectly crafted; from the slow, tension building start, to the manically beautiful end. It is one night I certainly wish I could go back and relive, if only to remember it more succinctly. I would like to end this article with one recommendation: if you ever get the opportunity to go and see Ten Walls, grab it, for it will be one of the best house gigs you can see in the near future. As Adomaitis himself said, Ten Walls is not an underground act. It is an act whose music is euphoric, uplifting, and made for the people.