Shadow City Presents… Swamp 81

It feels like months since there was a night dedicated to the sounds of Swamp 81 and when I saw the next one was going to be right where I live; excited was an understatement. The Shadow City guys have been smashing Birmingham over the last two years, bringing more and more heat to each party they put on. The reward for their hard work was hosting a full Swamp take over. Chunky (Dj and mic man), Mickey Pearce, Loefah and Paleman all filled the Rainbow warehouse with their unique and brilliant selections making for a practically perfect evening.

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Just as we arrived the Shadow City guys were wrapping up their warm up sets, these guys play such a sick variety of 120-135bpm stuff, catch them playing out at Rainbow and in Digbeth regularly. They know what they’re doing. As the clock struck midnight, Swamp 81 front man and general legend Chunky took to both the mic and decks, delivering a fantastic mixture of classic tunes and modern techno. His taste in music and ability to mix has reached a really impressive point. Anyone who can hype their own set, mix near perfectly and still keep their cool is a true pro. His is a name I look forward to seeing on any line up.

Next, the Spectrum family split with one of us staying to see Mickey Pearce and the other venturing into room two to catch Birmingham student dj Tom Jenkins. He opened with Wookie’s ‘Little Man’ remix, which pretty much set the tone for the rest of the set; pure party. In room one, Mickey Pearce destroyed the dancefloor with his unique mixture of hip hop inspired techno and bass music. His remix of Denzel Curry –’Threatz’ completely took the roof off. This guy has continued to make a brilliant name for himself and hopefully we’ll see something forthcoming from him soon.

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Loefah picked up where Mickey left off and started leading everyone slowly but surely into the deepest depths of the Swamp. This was one of the most unique and exciting sets I’ve heard from him in a long time, with many unrecognisable tunes from start to finish which kept me right on my toes. Between me and Andy, we were constantly trying to work out what was being played. It was a 125bpm bass onslaught and the whole room loved every second. Shadow City excelled here, the vibe was perfect, the sound and people were spot on. This was easily one of my favourite parties for a long time. He brought his set to a close with a tribute to the late and great J Dilla by playing ‘One For Ghost’. Apart from that, ‘Break 4 Love (VIP)’ by Zed Bias and (one of three plays of) Paleman – ‘The Day’, I heard little I knew. And this made my day.

Room two stayed popping all night; Brum Digs Houses’ Bradley Hughes gave a brilliant hour of modern dance music. Also special shouts to Surreal, Spinx, Dilate and Max Gold who all held down the fort fantastically in the morgue. Without these guys the party wouldn’t be complete and both rooms had a fantastic vibe from start to finish.

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Back in room one, Paleman was basically on the graveyard shift and this concept excited us to no end. I hadn’t seen him for a while and was pleasantly surprised by his set. Outside of the expected recent releases from himself and some really unique techno bangers, he found a place for both Pearson Sound – ‘Untitled’ and SX vs Ramadanman – ‘Woo Glut’. Both of these songs hold a very special place in my own heart and clearly the heart of a few others in the crowd; the reaction they got was fantastic and after so much new music, it really brought the night to a perfect close for me.

Overall this was one of my favourite nights out for a long time, although I always knew it would be as Swamp is top of my favoured labels list. Everyone killed it but it is safe to say Loefah smashed it well out of the park on this night and re-ignited the spark I felt when I first heard this unique brand of bass music. Really looking forward to what Shadow City have in store too with their Jackmaster night, their collaboration with Face and Cirque de Soul featuring Groove Armada and their side project Commune. It’s exciting to see these guys pushing their way into the Birmingham scene.

Written by Michael Thomas – All photography by Mitchell Nolan

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