Rødhåd and Speedy J in Rotterdam

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  • Rotterdam and industrial music have been involved in a fiery love affair that stretches back decades. In keeping with this tradition, prominent techno labels Electric Deluxe and Dystopian joined forces on Friday, February 5th for a collaborative event, with their respective head honchos, Jochem Paap, AKA Speedy J, and Rødhåd, topping the bill. To make the most of the occasion, Rødhåd travelled to Rotterdam several days early to spend some time in the studio with Paap, an artist known for his collaborations with Chris Liebing as Collabs 3000, and Lucy as Zeitgeber. Whether there's another exciting partnership on the way remains to be seen. The party took place in Factory 010, a former granary located on the tenth floor of the Maassilo, just across from the iconic Erasmusbrug bridge. The venue has a string of remarkable features: the elevator ride up to the top of the building, the breathtaking view from the small windows in the corridors that look over the city's waterways and the iron staircases in the middle and back of the room. The concrete space couldn't feel more industrial, which made it a perfect match for the night ahead. In the last couple of years, Rødhåd has become one of my favourite techno acts. He never disappoints. He's always relentless, always funky and always playing with a big smile on his face. Friday night was no exception. He was on the decks when I walked in around 1 AM, banging out tracks by the likes of Planetary Assault Systems mixed with a heavy dose of '90s techno. Speedy J joined him around 4 AM for a short back-to-back, which I would have liked to have seen more of. The night's biggest surprise was Noodlebar Soundsystem, a collective playing live on a table stacked with modular synths and drum computers. They didn't draw a big crowd, but it was relaxing to watch them conjure up all manner of beats and breaks in between the headline acts. I listened, fascinated, for a good half-an-hour before heading back to catch Speedy J's solo set. When Paap took over from Rødhåd in the main room, the energy of the night changed. The BPM rose considerably as Paap adopted a harder, faster and more stripped-down approach. You could tell that the crowd was finding it more difficult to dance. There was Paap, bent over the decks and looking extremely focussed, but unable to translate any of this concentrated energy through to the music and the dance floor. With every new track or boost in volume, his set grew increasingly tense and chaotic. I found the whole thing confusing, and so after 90 minutes I decided to head home. The night had had its moments, but if I'm honest I left thinking less about the party and more about Paap and Rødhåd's studio session, contemplating its potentially devastating results.