Hyperdub's heritage feels deeply rooted in London. Celebrating 15 years at the cutting edge, the label descended on the capital on Friday night, packing the bill with new talent and modest legends. The setting was Shoreditch's Village Underground, a redbrick rave shelter with one room and not much else—no chillout zone, nowhere to sit down and a busy smoking area with a constant queue. The venue's unerring sound just about makes up for it.
Perhaps inevitably with a lineup this stacked, artists usually worthy of peak-time slots were on early. Cooly G and Okzharp, playing back-to-back, opened tentatively at 10 PM to around a dozen early birds. Delivering chopped, boisterous beats from her recent album For You And I, Loraine James was impressive, though she felt wasted in the warm-up slot. Nazar's suffocating, syncopated noise roused a few yawning dancers. As he finished, Hyperdub boss Kode9 grabbed a mic and addressed the room. "You lot look like you're waiting for a bus!"
Then the bus arrived. Lee Gamble took the stage and the crowd seemed to triple in size. Paying little heed to his ongoing trilogy of fiddly concept albums, he spun a ruthless mix of trap, grime and occasional four-on-the-floor bangers. "Is this Hyperdub?" Someone asked in the toilet queue. "It sounds like techno."
There were no such doubts about what followed. Kode9 opened with Burial's "South London Boroughs," the night's only explicit nod to Hyperdub's golden goose. Some had speculated that the ghostly genius might make an appearance; instead Kode9 played back-to-back with Mala, each laying down four or five tunes at a time, ducking and diving through a dense forest of London sounds. Highlights included the UK drill crew 67's murky banger "Jump Out Gang."
As the night peaked the floor heaved with a lively, cosmopolitan audience. Dancers young and old threw gunfingers to the sky. The footwork pioneer DJ Spinn instigated an uplift in tempo that might have cleared some dance floors, but kept this one raucous and rapt, powered by 160-BPM edits of Drake, Kelela and Roy Ayers, plus classics like "Let It Go" by DJ Rashad.
The crowd began to wane during Proc Fiskal's touching set of Ruff Sqwad-style grime lullabies, before Lady Lykez closed with relentless energy at 5 AM. Somehow cajoling the remaining 40 or so ravers into a mosh pit, the MC spat over Scratchclart's blend of gqom, grime and what might have been a whisper of Mala's "Changes." In true Hyperdub tradition, it was a dizzying navigation between varied, interwoven sounds.
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