Tobacco Docks, London
2nd April 2016
Some warehouse raves can go on until the following afternoon. We were initially attracted to SIDEXSIDE by its rather unique premise; a day rave from 12.30 until 10.30 pm focused around 3 artists: Carl cox, Seth Troxler, and Joris Voorn. Each was set to be playing for 7 hours on their respective stages, b2b (or side to side) with a host of exciting DJs.
First things first, the Tobacco Docks, a recently converted events space in Wapping, was an amazing venue. Despite being a bit maze-like at times, its combination of surprisingly beautiful architecture and excellent sound made it perfectly suited for the event.
Opting to enjoy the glorious spring sunshine before heading in at 3.30, we caught the last hour and a half of Andhim’s set. With heavy blackout curtains mostly covering the venue’s large skylights, the main room was just light enough to remember that it was still the afternoon. From the stomping beats of the Chymera remix of Daso&Pawas’s ‘No Lead’ as we entered, Andhim proved an excellent set to start the day. His quite accessible melodic techno eased us into the debauchery that was to follow. A real highlight of the set was the Coyu edit of Stab Virus’s ‘The Unknown Song’, who’s wonky siren and build up was hair raising.
Andhim’s set was followed by a quick exploration of the venue to get our bearings. Everything had been well thought-out, aside from two food stalls churning out jerk chicken; there was a strange oyster card system to pay for drinks. It took a little getting used to but certainly cut down queue times. Supposedly this was because the venue wasn’t technically licensed to have these bars, so this card system allowed them to bypass it. Kudos to the craftiness of the organisers here.
Before the lineup really heated up later on, we decided to catch a bit of Seth Troxler’s marathon stint in the venue’s car park-cum-stage. While it was slightly difficult to find, once there this stage proved absolutely mental. Thumping acid-soaked beats combined with low ceilings and seriously heavy lighting gave it the feeling of an illegal rave, and you could be forgiven for forgetting this was still only five o’clock. KiNK’s adaptation of Semibreves saw the place kick off, but the brief respite from the acid beats for the slightly funky ‘The Underground’ (Peter Rauhofer’s Original Underground Mix), aptly named for the underground car park, proved that even an abrasive techno set really can be fun.
Far better than the music itself was our chat with Seth Troxler’s lighting man, on tour with him for the whole summer season; dancing behind the controls off his nut and recounting to us his love of acid house. It was great to visit for an hour before escaping back upstairs, for those low ceilings and strobes were epileptic fit inducing.
Around 6.30 we popped in to see a bit of Carl Cox. The hour we saw was nothing special, but the room was packed throughout and it was good to see the big man having fun. Park & Sons’ ‘Uncle Carl’ was huge, but the density of the crowd compared to the other stages wasn’t my cup of tea. We had a final pause for some food and beers before the last stint, and the most anticipated set of the day, the mighty Joris Voorn b2b Kölsch. Here at The Mancunion we are big fans of this duo, with their Warehouse Project set being the highlight of the season. You can also read our interview with Kölsch here: https://mancunion.com/2016/03/05/qa-kolsch/
Without a doubt Voorn and Kölsch played the best set of the day. The lighthearted new Eats Everything and Green Velvet track ‘The Duster’ got the party started, and had only been released just a day before the event. The set was a joy to watch partly because both DJs themselves were having so much fun behind the decks. Their chemistry was apparent; the whole time one was choosing a song the other was pumping the air in appreciation. They looked just as excited to be bouncing songs off each other as the crowd was to be hearing them. A luscious loop from the closing half of Len Faki’s remix of Ian Pooley’s ‘Celtic Cross’ proved absolutely gorgeous, and demonstrated what this duo do so well, finding melodic loops and building textural sounds upward from them. The howling ‘Circus Bells’ by Robert Armani saw the duo dance manically behind the decks, and served as a collective reminder to the crowd about why they got into dance music; the combination of melodies and rhythm was simply a lot of fun.The whole set had the feel of a couple of mates playing around at an absolutely banging house party, and the crowd received each change with clear appreciation.
We tragically had to leave the set half an hour before its end due to last trains, but, thankfully, for our outro we were treated to the whole 5 minutes of an unreleased Kölsch banger. Its skipping pianos, which were subsumed by a big horn groove, sounded really special, and if it was anything to go by, we really can’t wait for the next album. If you haven’t heard Kölsch’s ridiculously good two album releases, you certainly won’t regret trying them.
While it was one of the first day raves I have been to, SIDEXSIDE was an amazing setup. It proved an excellent chance to see some of the most exciting artists play some extended sets and delve deep into their record collections, but the focus on back to back sets made sure it remained exciting. With hindsight, it would be fairer to label it a festival with the amount of stuff on offer! Would I do the exact same thing tomorrow? Yes. It was just that much fun.