Our Rave Reviewer In Chief on Awakenings, Glitterbox, Printworks Opening and Drumcode Halloween.
Even if you don't know his name, you probably know our newest columnist. Bradley Gunn Raver is that guy in the goggles at the front of every rave dancing his ass off. Bradley loves raving more than anyone else I know, and that's saying something. I first met him a few years ago at (obviously) a rave, since then he's become a regular collaborator with us at Ministry of Sound and so we thought it was about time to give him something a little more official. So without further ado, let me introduce Ministry of Sound's Rave Reviewer In Chief, Bradley Gunn Raver! - Matt Francey, Ministry of Sound Editor.
The event of the month for me in what was the 11th straight antic-filled month of an unreal 2017 had to be awarded to Family Club's 22nd Anniversary in Sonseca, Spain. The event boasted one of the most in demand and rightfully idolised icons in underground music - Nina Kraviz, who was to captivate us with one of her 'All Night Long' sets. This brand of marathon set is becoming ever popular with artists such as home grown legend Skream, and firm favourite Joseph Capriati, who use the extended set length to showcase their musical knowledge and wizardry in the booth.
The venue, which was just of south of Madrid, wasn't revealed until the week leading up to it - but we all know that spontaneous trips abroad generally turn out to be the most memorable! Since I had already planned to spend the day at Printworks, a place that is becoming more and more of a second home, the logistics of the trip worked out perfectly. I spent my day 'warming up' at Printworks and then traveled over to Madrid later in the evening. After an intense day of gyrating at Printworks, I had a strong spring in my step and bounced into this welcoming new surrounding at 1AM. As I arrived Nina took to the decks to commence with her journey through the realms of underground music until 7AM. After a brief tour of the club and with Nina already teasing the crowd with pulsating snares and claps, I sought comfort in my natural habitat - dancing. Situated in a decent spot, I began to share my energetic, free flowing movements with the Spaniards for what was, as expected, a masterclass of a performance from one of the genres consistent greats.
An interesting aspect of this journey was that for the first time when travelling abroad to one of these incredible events I genuinely felt I was abroad. What I mean by that is when I have been lucky enough for instance to land in Ibiza or the recent venture to the BPM Festival in Portugal, communication problems weren't an issue due to the popularity and largely English speaking crowd they attract. However, the only people at this event who spoke English were the promoters and a minority bracket of other individuals. But moving on to the interesting point - was that with my fluency in Spanish being non-existent it was difficult to verbally communicate with the majority of others in the audience, but all it took was a smile and acknowledgement to a certain beat alongside the music allowing you to move so freely really for us to generate a form of common ground. So regardless of language barriers, I can assure you that you can have the best time together!
November was yet again another multi-weekend visit to Printworks; I attended Afterlife, Relentless and Paradise. Afterlife was a showcase brought to us by Tale Of Us, who have made big movements at Privilege on the white isle this year, where they drafted in titans ranging from Dixon to KiNK and Maceo Plex to Solomun - they really took the opportunity to impress at undoubtedly one of the most ideal spaces for their particular underground sound.
At Relentless, I was highly entertained by the consistency of the masked man we have all come to know as Claptone, and it always nice to explore an event that is different to what I normally attend.
Personally, out of the three, my favourite had to be when Jamie Jones spoilt us with his musically indulgent and ever growing 'Paradise' brand. Paradise has been going from strength to strength over the past few years, and now sits at the top table alongside DC-10's legendary daytime party Circoloco, and with Jamie inviting a variety of his label Hot Creations and sister label Hottrax signees to join him - this was certainly going to be an event for the Printworks history books. Jamie's impressive music knowledge and his expertly handpicked roster had the party flowing perfectly. Flashbacks of Paradise at DC-10 were no doubt felt by many, as they reminisced on another unforgettable Ibiza season - even within the more grittier surroundings of Printworks.
Here I am dancing with one of the Hot Creations regulars, a Paradise resident, and all round nice guy, wAFF
The passion I have for Drumcode events and their hard-hitting sound is second to none. So when Motion, a venue only a stones throw from me, brought Adam Beyer and his troops to Bristol - it was without a doubt I was going to be there. I was already fortunate enough to have attended several Drumcode events this year, from their warehouse takeover for Chapter XIII at the Rainbow Venues to the more recent Halloween spectacle at Tobacco Docks. This was just as impressive. It was also a real pleasure to see so many familiar faces from the Tobacco Docks outing, and it was quite clear that it wasn't just me who was becoming increasingly more attached to this brand and its consistently highly rated events. As soon as I pirouetted through the familiar entrance of Motion I sprung into action and got right into it. I was planning on staying the entire night but unfortunately it did becoming noticeably busy and hot as the night progressed, so I decided to call it a night at 2:30am as although I enjoy implementing my energy in my own space I appreciated this was going to be sustained for the entire duration of the night with it being a major, sold out event.
Alfresco Disco hosts raves in unique spaces around the Bristol area, they are also incredibly secretive in regards to the event. Any individual who is regularly enticed to the events the underground scene has to offer will agree that this certainly adds to the excitement. My favourite edition in the catalogue of intriguing and equally successful parties they have hosted thus far was under the Temple Meads bridge back in October 2015. Impressively, they don't host an event in the same place twice, so you could speculate and explore potential locations as much as you like, but it's really a matter of patiently waiting, as the promoter always keeps their cards close to their chest.
This time we were treated to a small industrial estate in South East Bristol. Although at times not knowing the location can have knock on effects on travel you still have to hand it to the promoters as they go to greater lengths to satisfy, even putting on a bus service for attendees. It was an interesting venue, with raw industrial units that have been strongly associated with the original, old school raves of yesteryear. There was a smaller room with more of a classic, disco tinged vibe to it, and a contrasting, gargantuan, space which accommodated me and my techno loving counterparts. It was a great evening, and makes me appreciate how lucky I am to have something like this on my doorstep!
I had been planning on going to a FUSE event for quite some time, and the unfortunate justification for never attending this highly respected Sunday shindig was due to it being based in London, and with my work commitments the following morning, it had not yet been possible to attend. I decided to change that and made the necessary arrangements. FUSE as a record label and as an infamous Sunday party are gradually becoming regarded as one of the best in the business. Label head Enzo Siragusa, Rich NXT, Seb Zito, Archie Hamilton & Rossko come together to form ideas that almost inevitably generate such a captivating sound. They take inspiration from genres that vary from garage to minimal techno, and their intertwining of both rare vinyl records and digital hidden gems was something I was incredibly excited to be experiencing.
FUSE operates as a guest-list only approach, and with no advance ticket sales it's as simple as signing up before and paying when you arrive. Entrance is strictly up to the management's discretion. People can often be quick to jump to conclusions and think that this is to create a vibe of exclusivity, but it soon became clear to me as to why they have adopted this approach. Everyone there was very friendly and welcoming, which was exactly what the party throwers were aiming for. It was evidently a place for those who seek something that differed from a typical rave and wanted to enjoy the music whilst still winding down before returning to the normalities of life the next day. I had such a great time and will be back for more of the FUSE vibe soon.
It had been a while since I last raved in Birmingham, and it really did feel great to be back. It was also my first time experiencing the all-new venue called Crane, which was a spectacle for everyone to behold. The Crane venue boasts three rooms, and as you steadily walk down the steel steps and through the entrance you are taken aback by a huge, narrow, but lengthy main room. Out back you have a hangar that will no doubt be perfect for a sunset or sunrise spot in the summer of 2018. Finally, you have the spacious but nevertheless intimidating, low ceiling 'cellar' where everyones favourite individual, Skream, would be embarking on a chapter of his 'All Night Long' tours from 7pm-4am. I could not wait to get stuck in!
The main room was soon faced with a flurry of ravers and I was impressed that despite this being a sell out event, there was still reasonable space to manoeuvre and let my energy fly into action. I spent a significant amount of time being musically satisfied by Skream in the cellar, this was also an ideal opportunity for the man to incorporate varying genres into a lengthy set, which to many would be unthinkable. I didn't spend all of my time in there but the conclusion of the set was something special, with vocal techno and heavy beats drawing the curtains on yet another memorable performance by one of the best this country has ever seen. The amalgamation of Circoloco resident Davide Squillace, Paradise boss Jamie Jones, Elrow resident De La Swing amongst the support artists with the jaw dropping production and confetti showers really underpinned how far Portal had come since its inception only a few years ago. Any promoter or event manager has to give credit where it's due as this show was nothing short of incredible and a huge achievement for Portal.