Review: Back to Basics 02/10/10
Back to Basics
James Zabiela, Burnski, Buckley
Saturday 2nd October
World famous club night Back to Basics took another Saturday night by storm in Leeds this week. The familiar venue, recently renamed back to Stinky’s Peephouse, was bursting at the seams as hordes of party-goers jostled to gain entry into one of the busiest nights Leeds has seen for some time. Entry was billed at a higher fee than normal, nonetheless many were still eager to hand over their precious pennies to gain entry because this night was pegged to be a big one. James Zabiela was on the cards and any hand boasting such a giant name was sure to incur substantial interest. It was desperately busy and descriptions likening us all to sardines in tins would have been understated. The smoke machine was unnecessary tonight as steam poured from the smoking exit, a testament to the conditions in the main room.
Basics is usually a great place for the stylish to do the funky foot dance, while a cool breeze from the ventilation fans at the back prevents the sweat from brimming the brow. Whereas tonight the crowd moved as one, more in the literal sense as opposed to an overwhelming sense of unity. The overcrowding may have spoiled the night for some, but the loyal basics following developed over the years won’t waver easily. There were plenty of broad smiling faces and the renowned atmosphere was unique and upbeat as always. Sure it took twenty minutes to get into the smoking area and longer to secure a drink but that’s what happens when there aren’t more choices to enjoy your fill of anything techno. Unless you’re willing to wander about a characterless o2 Academy one must bite the bullet and be grateful for Stinky’s and BacktoBasics for supplying us with regular doses of what they do best. Basics is a vintage label and the residents are like a fine wine, maturing over years establishing a blend of exclusive taste. Tonight Burnski and Buckley etched out the sketchiest basslines and minimal tech breakdowns making any headliner, no matter the name, subject to wobbly knees or similar nerve related puns. After years of providing a second to none foot stomping service these guys are the crème de la minimal techno.
James Zabiela took to the decks ready to impress the crowd, who were fired up by the warmers-up. The customary keenos were at the front where a minimal mosh-pit had been gaining intensity and the club braced itself for the justification of subjection to empty pockets, hair in face or stiletto on foot conditions. Now comes the hard part, after brown-nosing the residents you might guess what’s coming – disappointment. Perhaps personal tastes have blinded me to preferring the traditional basics sound, but the sound sorcery conjured up by Zabiela was lacking. Sure, in terms of technical ability and mixing skills James Zabiela smashed it, but like his album releases the set was hit and miss. There was something for everyone, but that isn’t the Basics way. Backtobasics likes to keep it simple, hence the name. A drum and bass tune was dropped for Gods sake! At Basics! Even though it’s a track made by progressive giants Underworld, it had no right being part of that night. There were significant numbers of shocked faces standing around awkwardly as the next tune was perfectly mixed in.
I took my bewildered expression upstairs to the smaller room where it was quickly reverted to its previous position of full enamel nudity. It was much busier than usual up there as there was still no room at the inn downstairs. It provided a much needed opportunity for dancing that involved moving of your own accord. On returning downstairs a realisation had dawned. It is clear that Zabiela’s skills cannot be faulted and his original style is impressive. Possibly this may be why the night didn’t leave a sense of satisfaction. Basics and Zabiela on paper sounds sensational, the turnout provides perfect evidence, but in reality both entities have a distinct style and personality that seemed to be in contention with each rather than gelling together as we all had hoped.
Words: Michael Steele