Why Manchester is the new creative epicentre of neo-soul and hip-hop
This weekend was a big one for us here at Dummy, as we oversaw the first ever Dummy AGM at London Fields Brewery, a two-day mini-festival organised to bring together the artists, readers and contributors who make this (as in, this page you're looking at right now) happen. Floored by the display of talent and by ingesting large quantities of chicken, burgers and beer, we can't help but blow our own trumpets just a little by admitting it was a pretty special weekend.
Nottingham native and STRANGERZOO collective member Kirk Spencer kicked us off on the Saturday afternoon with his Eastern-tinged beats and the glorious vocal assistance of Louis Scott, leading straight into the intense electronic contortions (and athletic vocal stylings) of DFA signee Larry Gus. Brolin, decked out in a topical Los Pollos Hermanos t-shirt, took us into the evening with his diamond of a voice and piercing synth-pop, before Only Real took to the stage all profanity and charm, shaking the audience's limbs loose with tracks from his new 'Days In The City' EP and nodding to the Beastie Boys.
Warp trio Darkstar headlined the night in a wash of smoke and progressive electronica, delivering a set that meshed different elements of their sound into a heady rush, shedding new light on their fresh and spacious 'News From Nowhere' cuts, and clearing a mental path for the experimental lurches of a set from Micachu and Tirzah. Mica Levi played on the themes established in the wonky 'I'm Not Dancing' EP with the innovation and brashness you'd expect, while her pal Tirzah wrapped her warm voice effortlessly around the bumps and tumbles of Levi's production. Seeing these two jam so comfortably together was just a little bit magic. As 4am crept ever closer, dancefloor-filler Nadia Ksaiba and our man Cadenza were on hand to take the night into the hazy hours with relentless energy.
Rainer opened a somewhat subdued Sunday afternoon to happy and chilled out crowd, some holding their heads after the night before – Rebekah Raa's devil-may-care stage presence and silky, dexterous voice proved to be the perfect remedy, and their polished set (not to mention the fact their songs remain stuck in the mind for days afterwards) seemed to belong to an act much more established than they are. The electronic pop baton was then picked up by indie four-piece Woman's Hour, who ran with it as elegantly as that metaphor can possibly suggest, blowing the audience away with a delicate cover of Bruce Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark.
London-based producer and Kaleidoscope label boss patten got things moving with a sample-heavy "re-edit" set that was straight-up fun, knocking the audience out of their lazy Sunday mindsets just in time for the tipsy hip hop and gauzy bass of the enigmatic Butterclock (soon to be known by her birth name of Laura Clock). San Francisco producer oOoOO swamped the room with his pop abstractions and deliciously intense dub, all the while staring with a deadpan expression out into the audience and generally cutting a looming figure. He also sang live, which, as he told us recently, is a new addition to his sets, and a chillingly welcome one. Tying up the night were the imaginative leaps of CFCF's rousing DJ set and 45 minutes of synth-washed soul from the incomparable Deptford Goth, accompanied by a live string section and bringing the night to an emotional close.
A huge thanks goes out to all the performers as well as to our food vendors Thank Cluck and Tommi's Burger Joint and to the lovely London Fields Brewery; not to mention, to all of you lot who came down and who are reading this now. Here's to more of the same – meet you again next year?