Bonobo At The Boiler Room

As I made my way to Bonobo’s secret gig last week with a fellow electronica enthusiast of mine I could almost feel the pulse of London beating ever faster, coming to life in the ever growing congregation of hipsters floating towards Hoxton Studios.

We weren’t the only things walking on air though.

I spied a lone black balloon next to an inconspicuous steel door in the heart of this trendy London enclave; an empty gesture for those unfamiliar with electronica’s underground lore, but our signal for one hell of a night.

Upon entering this hidden world, two human behemoths greeted our arrival and asked who we were here to see. A simple “Bonobo” response later and they ushered us in, without so much as an I.D check or overly familiar body search.

This wasn’t your common or garden club night; we were about to enter the Boiler Room.

Boiler Room isn’t a venue as such, rather a fluid new media invention that regularly changes location; the only constant being shows are recorded and streamed live at by their dedicated team.

Boiler Room regular Blue Daisy ignited the nights proceedings by orchestrating a torrent of hard-core grime, hip-hop and breakbeats to get the party started.

Turning up the heat following Blue Daisy’s hype was up and coming Essex producer Lapalux. His abstract soundscapes and turntable artistry stirred the crowd up from London’s frozen streets outside, and we gave him a rapturous response for his welcome warmth.

Unofficial DJ, Mikachu was next on the line-up, surprisingly serving up some of the best stuff of the night. This wasn’t the only surprising thing Mikachu had in store for us though.

I went through the entire set thinking about how impressive this male teenage prodigy was, only to be shocked when Mikachu revealed herself to be a she.

Her androgynous appearance took nothing away from her music, with Mikachu’s mystery adding intrigue to her formless, future garage sound.

After a lengthy two hour warm up, the simian of the moment finally arrived through a discreet side door to watch the final part of Mikachu’s set and take his place amongst the smoked and sweaty sea of East London trendies.

It seemed Bonobo was receptive to performing an intimate set in Hoxton surrounded by too cool for school posers, rather than the usual backpacker fan boys asking for signatures and photos.
The lesser of two evils if you will.

As expected the man also known as Simon Green did not disappoint, almost tearing the roof off with his first track. After what seemed like an age of ear teasing with some old school funky bass line concoctions, breaks and rewinds, Bonobo finally let his music evolve into his new album Black Sands Remixed.

Not that he just played the tracks from the album live. Improvising with new sounds and mixes of his soon to be released record, Bonobo kept his fellow primates lost on the dance floor in a monsoon of ethnic flavour and down tempo trip hop.

Or in my case, transfixed on his peerless mixing, lever twiddling and vinyl scratching mastery.

Those who’ve already heard Bonobo’s new album will testify to its ethereal flavour, but I can say with certainty that listening to Black Sands Remixed fits into this mortal realm even better when performed in a dimly lit underground room under the scrutiny of its proud father.

Words by Kareem Ghezawi, Photography by Will Cooper-Mitchell

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Dates ‘n stuff

February 2012