Live Review: Chapter XIII | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Live Review: Chapter XIII

Greg Woodin spends Easter weekend at - where else? - the Rainbow Venues

I’ll be honest: techno isn’t normally my scene. My sonic habitat is typically bassline and bass house - gun fingers in the air, face squashed up in mock disgust as unearthly, guttural sub-bass erupts through the speakers. But the Chapter XIII line-up looked good from what I knew about techno, and where else would I rather be on Easter weekend? So I prepared an all-black wardrobe and began my techno education on YouTube, listening to the likes of Jamie Jones and Joseph Capriati to whet my appetite. Their sets were seamless, hypnotic… I was impressed, and I expected big things as I turned up on Heath Mill Lane and made my way into The Rainbow Venues.

The sun warmed up my Stella and the summery tech-house tunes were impossible not to bounce along to
Being a twelve-hour event, it was a marathon, not a sprint, but it was clear that some people were already pretty mashed as DJs Paradox City and Rothstein soundtracked my entrance to Portal’s outdoor stage. The sun warmed up my Stella, the summery tech-house tunes were impossible not to bounce along to and famously sober raver Bradley Gunn was clad in his own merch, having pictures taken with fans. It was a good start. Homemade pizza from a stall out in the car park filled a gap, and for a while it was nice to just sit, absorb the vitamin D and listen to the stifled thud of booming bass beats being soaked up by the huge marquee that housed the Chapter Stage. The Chapter Stage was the biggest of the festival, and it was already packed as Andrea Oliva fired out techno laser beams into the audience. We were really beginning to get into the swing of things.

A short queue later, I was up on the Terrace and it was Francesco Del Garda’s turn in the DJ booth. Mixing robotic noise, funk and melody (yes, some of the songs even had melody), Del Garda impressed with an idiosyncratic set that - at least to this naive tech-virgin - stood out as having its own distinct style more than any other performance across the whole event. As ever, the vibes on the Terrace were chilled-out as ravers bobbed and chatted, making the most of the sun before it bid us ado for the day. At this point I decided to grab a water to stave off the inevitable hangover looming ominously beyond the sunset-tinged skyline (I’d been drinking since midday), and after a short sit-down to give my aching feet some respite, it was down the stairs and into the Warehouse.

Energy levels escalated discernibly as Dense and Pika pumped out chunky, angular slabs of hard-hitting techno
And the Warehouse was where it was at. Much to my surprise, they’d removed the staircase up to the balcony, but the venue was much the better for it: the Warehouse can get a bit crowded at the best of times, and this freed up some much-needed room. This, coupled with the fact that the stage had been moved in closer proximity to the crowd a few months prior, makes it by far The Rainbow’s most engaging space. A few moments after setting foot on the dance floor, energy levels escalated discernibly as Dense and Pika pumped out chunky, angular slabs of hard-hitting techno from their elevated vantage point behind the decks, expertly ratcheting up the tension before letting rip with fiery semi-automatic rounds of pumping bass. It was all getting a bit hot and sticky from all the bodies in the room, but no one was prepared to leave. We were all waiting for one person:

Joseph Capriati. At first I wasn’t sure he had even come onstage, such is his small stature, but his quality was unmistakable. Picking up where Dense and Pika left off, Capriati played music that even your average EDM disciple would be forced to appreciate, defying the cries of techno cynics that such music is ‘boring’ or ‘all sounds the same’ with a set full of long, tense build-ups and pummelling drops. Hands were in the air and the technocracy really were going for it, more so than at any other point during the afternoon - and as the low-end filtered back into the mix once again, I had to ask myself: why does bass feel so good?

Capriati played music that even your average EDM disciple would be forced to appreciate
At some point I must have decided the heat was getting a bit too much, because then I was outside in the Arena as Dubfire kept the tunes rolling. The music here didn’t set my own musical taste buds alight, and it was more difficult to feel fully involved when situated so far back in the crowd, but the light show was impressive, with blinding white laser shards slicing through the air and illuminating pockets of the crowd at random. I tried to psyche myself up and get back in the dancing mood, but with disappointment I realised I was flagging… and as much as I intended to stay and see Jamie Jones, I just couldn’t see it happening. The loud music was beginning to wear me down and I needed my bed. Embarrassing, I know.

So it was so long Chapter XIII. From the perspective of a techno agnostic, it had been a hugely successful outing and a great way to spend Easter weekend. In a live setting, this music is given a completely new lease of life: it is more aggressive, more vital, more danceable than online Mixmag and Tomorrowland streams would have you believe, and hearing it pumped out by sound systems more powerful than your average pair of Apple earphones transforms the listening experience entirely. In short, I had been converted. I guess I'll see you at Chapter XIV...

Studying MA by Research English Language and Applied Linguistics


21st April 2017 at 10:00 am

Last Updated

21st April 2017 at 3:38 am

Images from

Daisy Denham, Khris Cowley and and Michael Njunge for Here & Now