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Event Review: Dekmantel at The Hydra

Event Review: Dekmantel at The Hydra
Oliver Cruttenden

Friday night at The Hydra. The air is thick with excitement, a dense fog of expectation. An all-star lineup, international in scope, awaits all and any who enter here. Tonight the Dekmantel crew’s intentions for the tangerine Dutch summer loom large.

Stretched across two rooms, Funktion One speakers formulate the dance floor with pulsing bass as the residents warm the crowd up in the Warehouse, while Huerco S coats the velvet walls of the Black Room with concentrated, snarling techno.

The deep red lighting displays the dancers as mere silhouettes, as Makam takes to the decks at about half past midnight. The setting is perfect for the clinical, growling swagger emitted by the sound system and it’s clear he has complete governance over the Studio Spaces crowd. Bullets of strobe ignite the space occasionally showing smiles and laughter; the anticipation is irrepressible tonight.

Projected on to a sheet behind the decks, neon waves and ever-changing sequences of light flicker and flirt with the bodies in front of them,.The promoters have designed a sonic haven for their punters; you can’t help but feel impressed.

Cubed, meaningful thuds attack the crowd as the pace quickens towards the end of Makam’s set. The room is packed and sweaty. Dancers edge to the front as one quarter of 3 Chairs, Marcellus Pittman takes to the decks amidst whoops and cheers. Friends nudge one another, giddy with excitement as the Detroit veteran switches up the equipment, insisting on his trademark vinyl..

Picking up momentum, Boogie Nite‘s ‘Cardiac Arrest’ radiates around the room with the chorus line ‘Satisfy.. Yeeeah..’ meeting rapturous reception. Pittman can’t help a wry smile as he coaxes and teases the bass in and out, elegantly making the most of his tools. His mixing prowess is nothing short of masterful, yet within his selection there’s frequently a message pounding out of the speakers. Deodato‘s ‘Keep It In The Family’ simply adds to the communal spirit of the night..

Prince‘s ‘Uptown’ rings out and spirits are jovial in the Black Room, a fitting tribute. Clearly enjoying himself, Pittman throws in the 12″ version of Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King‘s ‘Out There’ to seal the deal. His set runs into over-time, producing a slew of US and Italo squelchy disco; sounds that are new, old and always exciting. He ends with ‘Fascinated’ by Company B, the crowd squeal and he returns his proud collection of vinyl to its record box, satisfied that his work is done.

In dire need of a cool down before the headline slot, I am fascinated to overhear some of the discussions outside. I wonder how many of this young crew will be crossing over to Holland for one of the most eagerly anticipated festivals of the year. But they are cognoscenti and if the start of the evening is anything to go by, it’s difficult to see how they can’t plan to be there.

The Warehouse room must be at capacity as JuJu & Jordash‘s live set draws to a close. Their final vocal is sexy, seductive and prophetic: ‘I See the Future and it Works’ – the crowd roar into applause.

Enter Joy Orbison. Typically the start of his set is wild and unfathomable – a series of sonic laser noises fill the club with no clear beat, off-kilter patterns designed to secure his stamp on the show. His audience are silenced, eagerly anticipating the next move and it’s an unusual one. In stark contrast to the former, he drops in a cheesy, sun-drenched number to the unsuspecting club. Something that would usually fall into a set from an artist on the Crew Love label feels out of place on this occasion, but it’s greeted with approval as hands reach for the air. He eases into his usual clipped and techy style, the sounds are new and incredible. A jaunty, crisp unit is coaxed into play with what can only be described as a hypnotic Arabian lick. It’s meaningful and commanding, the vocal works the dancefloor into upheaval and Joy O reminds us why he is one of the most venerated DJs on the circuit. Two hours of meticulous ‘terrier’ techno unfolds. It’s yappy and infectious.

Photo by Luke Baker //

Later, Call Super distributes a deftly evocative and imposing set across the Black Room. Terse, aesthetic 4×4 injects the dance floor in a cardinal manner. Steel drums are strewn across hi-tech bollards of deep, modernised rhythms and the result is enthralling. It’s a sound he has so painstakingly showcased across his monthly residency on Berlin Community Radio, and tonight it’s accentuated delectably.

Photo by Luke Baker //

The final set of the night falls to one of Detroit latter generation stars, Kyle Hall. It’s 6:30am and the crowd are weary, but Hall, standing hood up and self-assured, gives off an air of effortless cool that’s hard not to pay attention to.. His set comprises of mellow, stretched-out blues and glitzy piano pieces. After eight hours of hard-hitting futuristic techno, he seems to know exactly what his audience require and the music soothes and appeases them. Nu-Jazz sounds are fused with funk, soul and uplifting vocals as he guides us through the early hours.

It’s been a tasteful evening; elegant, and refined. Set times have been assembled perfectly to ensure the night flowed with vim and dynamism. The Hydra provided the perfect environment for the evening’s twisting, mechanised showcase; minimal decor complemented by cosmic, fizzy light shows and furious acidic LED projections with enough fake smog to conjure up the impression of a space age battlefield. Dekmantel have constructed a tantalising starting-block to what’s set to be one of this summer’s top tickets.