Last Saturday, Glasgow was blessed with a double bill of techno giant Kevin Saunderson. Following a daytime set at BAAD with Inner City, the Detroit native headed west for a wee rendezvous with the city centre’s Sub Club, his first gig there in over 10 years.
Saunderson has now spent over three decades at the top of the dance music world. A forceful presence way back in the days of TR909’s and 808’s, he continues to be relevant today despite the momentous evolution of the scene. As is so often the case with a culture’s origin story, the details of how techno came to be are hazy. Yet, his influence on the development of dance music in Detroit in the 80’s is undeniable. Along with high school classmates Juan Atkin’s and Derrick May, he played a pivotal role in the creation of techno music. There were of course other artists making electronic music before the trio – known as the Belleville Three – but it was their creative experiments on basic hardware which sketched an outline for a genre that was soon to come into existence.
And it was Saunderson, in particular, who is credited for bringing these sounds of the Detroit underground into the mainstream with his ability to add elements of accessibility to the raw music that were coming out of the city. This role – of transporting the music to a wider audience- goes some way towards explaining his nickname “The Elevator”. As part of Inner City, Saunderson is responsible for giving the genre some of its most memorable early tunes with “Big Fun”, “Good Life” and “Ain’t nobody Better” which topped the US dance charts in the space of a few weeks of each other.
Saunderson’s set on Saturday eschewed obvious bangers with him instead offering a beautifully subtle and perfectly paced 3 hours. The mix itself was super smooth with transitions between tracks near indeterminable. It was obvious that this was a guy who has been doing this for a very long time. Sub Club’s world renowned soundsystem and supersonic floor is the perfect medium for this sort of thing. It was my first time dancing completely sober in the space and it was one of the best nights I’ve had in there; the soundsystem and dancefloor really are enough. And anytime I was in need of an extra wee dunt all I had to do was stand against the wall-to-wall speakers for a while.
A track from DVDR was one of the standout tracks and it gave me a lot of pleasure to think how happy Saunderson must have been when he found a song called “Elevate” that also turned out to be an absolute belter.
Glasgow is a city that is home to a thriving music scene which the council superficially promotes and supports (‘GLASGOW CITY OF CULTURE!’) but continues to undermine it time and time… and time again. The energy, joy and receptiveness of the crowd on Saturday is testament to the fact that Glasgow’s music scene will continue to flourish despite a less than hospitable environment from the council.