Monday, 6 April 2009

review: hint @ glo bar 03/04/09

I’ve been living in Cardiff for a couple of years now, but much to my dismay have yet to see a Tru Thoughts artist playing here. That was until this weekend, when the mighty Hint made the journey into the Welsh capital to play at the opening night of Glo Bar’s new weekly event, “Big City Beats”.

Musically, the flyers and posters promised “funk, soul, hip-hop, breaks & mashups”, and I had a feeling that a set from Hint, who’s style has come a long way since his debut Portakabin Fever (Hombre, 2003), would fit the bill perfectly. It’s definitely fair to say that his latest offering, Driven From Distraction (Tru Thoughts, 2008) has seen him take a bigger step towards dancefloor-orientated beats, with his funk, soul and jazz influences melding nicely together with electronica – more specifically those current yoot fave elements “basslines” and “wobble/wonk”. Just go and check out “The Tremmuh” or “At The Dance” if you want a better idea of what I’m talking about. I guess it’s easy to see, when listening to that album and then reading Glo’s musical remit for the event, why they chose Hint to come down to open the party.

I got to the venue at about 11-ish, and was surprised by how quiet it was – not in terms of volume (Glo Bar doesn’t have a problem there – I think they’ve upgraded their soundsystem since I last paid a visit!), but more numbers of people. It’s a popular place at weekends and I expected it to be pretty packed by 11pm on a Friday. Not so – not this week anyway. Still, it enabled me to grab a seat with friends and listen to the support DJs do their thing.

After an hour or so of funk classics, a smattering of hip-hop and a selection of some pretty shady bootlegs/mashups (it’s a fine art nailing a mashup, and there’s some real guff out there unfortunately), Hint took to the decks. Bizarrely, the venue hadn’t really got much busier than when I first arrived, and I was increasingly amazed (and frustrated) by the fact that, despite having a pretty intimate “club/dancefloor” area on the basement level, Glo Bar had opted instead to keep all the DJs playing in the corner of the room in the upstairs bar. Which is mostly filled with tables and chairs – and thus isn’t really conducive to dancing (or swaying haphazardly, in my case).

Hint didn’t seem too phased by this though, and settled into opening his set with some brilliant soulful tunes. Starting the show came a corking little refix of Sunshine Anderson’s “Heard It All Before”, and not long after we were treated to Mary Jane Girls’ classic “All Night Long”, before he dropped the brilliant “One Woman Army” from his latest album. By this point the atmosphere seemed to be picking up and there was a move from head-nodding and foot-tapping into a few shimmies and shakes…good to see!

It wasn’t long before Hint progressed his set into a more disco-oriented vibe, notably playing Aretha Franklin’s “Jump To It” and (possibly the tune of the night, for me) Firefly’s “Love (Is Gonna Be On Your Side)”. By this point I’d had a few pints and had really begun to enjoy myself – and so had a few others. It was around this time, however, that the venue’s mistake in choosing to have the DJs upstairs, playing to a seating area, became all-too apparent. Though there were small spaces where you could dance, it seemed daft to do so next to people who were just sitting around enjoying a chat. It turned out that the management were piping the music from upstairs into the club space below, although this just resulted in a mass of people heading down there so they could dance, leaving the bar itself feeling even quieter. It must have been a nightmare for Hint to play in that kind of environment – how do you try to read a crowd when they’ve pissed off to dance where you can’t even see them?!

Still, the tunes kept coming and a more heavyweight selection of electronica, 2-step and broken beat began to creep in. I urge you to keep an ear out for Hint’s very own remix of his own “One Woman Army”, which sounded sublime through Glo Bar’s system. A lush bit of knee-shaking broken beat – perfect for city-centre Friday night grooving, trust me. Before finishing his set, Hint took the tempo back down and treated us to a bit of a hip-hop & funk “breaks” mix, rinsing out Prince’s “Gett Off”, the ever-pleasing “Soul Power 74”, and a storming bit of mixing from hip-hop favourite “The Message” into Sly’s “Family Affair”. Ooof – top work!

Hint is a fantastic DJ, there’s little doubt about that. The set eased its way from one genre to another, and within each genre a magnificent representative selection of tunes were mixed seamlessly into one another. Everything was on beat, every drop fell into place perfectly, and every selection flowed nicely into what had gone before. I’ve also got nuff respect for anyone who can keep a dancefloor (in another room) going while all they’ve got in front of them is people sitting at tables! If this is what he can do in a small, laidback bar, I’d love to see him play on a massive system in a decent-sized, packed-out club. Preferably somewhere a bit dark, too - so nobody can see my embarrassed shuffling (it's what i do when i'm "dancing") and drunken air-synths. Again....christ - I should get some help for that.

So, top marks to Hint for taking the time to visit us in Cardiff and for bringing a class box of tunes with him…and I’m afraid it’s a “must do better” for Glo Bar, who should really be using their club space if they’re going to book such great guest DJs.



mach v said...

top review, mr de sade. fanks. :)

Neil Cocker said...

I was there and I didn't get mentioned!!!



Teiresias said...

If you want to kill off the competition, I reckon you should point out that Neil was there - street cred straight down the pan ...