Horse Meat Disco, Crazy P and Salary Boy played Birmingham’s Love International Festival, an event that fell short of its full potential
All roads pointed to Lab11 last month, as Leftfoot and Shadow City Soundsystem collaborated with Love International Festival to bring some of their favourites to Digbeth. Crazy P Soundsystem, Horse Meat Disco and Salary Boy topped the bill, though the buzz was somewhat subdued due to the news that Call Super (the act I was personally most excited for) had, for undisclosed reasons, dropped out.
As I arrived it seemed to be a little bit quiet, despite this being their biggest event of the season so far. As the biggest promoters of the house-ier side of dance music in Birmingham, I must admit I was a little bit disappointed that they hadn’t been more adventurous with the bookings. All three acts had played for them in the last year, with Horse Meat Disco and the absent Call Super being sell outs. I understand the need to sell tickets, but considering the relatively small amount of DJs Birmingham receives for its size, I feel that they should use their clout to attract a more diverse array of acts, rather than play it safe with acts who are tried and tested. Nonetheless, I was keen to see how the acts played, particularly having never seen Horse Meat Disco before.
Crazy P seemed very well placed as the warm-up act. They were professional and restrained, showing maturity with their performance. Reflecting the slow filling up of the venue, the pace of their set gradually increased, with vocalist Danielle Moore punctuating key moments with well-executed vocals. As the end of their set neared, they reached a crescendo, setting the tone perfectly for Horse Meat Disco.
Horse Meat Disco lived up to their reputation as party starters; their set was the best of the night and the crowd was lapping up all their selections, classic and obscure. By this point the club was full, and to begin with, they brought the drama with a lone diva-esque vocal – a tried and tested move which framed the beginning of their set well. As the set progressed, they blended classic disco, italo and house. Crowdpleasers such as Purple Disco Machine’s ‘Body Funk’ and Sister Sledge’s ‘We Are Family’ sat alongside niche, but equally well respected, tunes like ‘Miura’ by Metro Area. My personal favourites were Underground Resistance’s ‘Transition’, a curveball perfectly in keeping with the set and the act’s ethos, and a disco edit of Whitney Houston’s ‘It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay’. Their set was refreshing, and it was great to see that they weren’t shying away from the more obvious crowd-pleasers like many DJs often do.
Last up was late call-up and Shadow City affiliate, Salary Boy. To be brutally honest, I don’t think his style was in keeping with the night at all, however, I do understand the limited choice available when trying to replace an act at such a late stage. The music he played was okay, mainly sample-heavy house cuts, but he simply couldn’t keep his hands away from the effects! It actually hurt your ears at times; I saw some punters actually leaving, fingers functioning as earplugs. The style he presented was very similar to a certain Mr. Grab, who had played at the Hare and Hounds earlier in the year (I encountered similar problems then). Maybe I’m being boring, but after the considered performances from Crazy P and Horse Meat Disco, it felt a bit jarring. That being said, it was the end of the night and it didn’t seem to bother most, who at this point were fairly inebriated.
Under the circumstances, the night was, for the most part, pretty enjoyable. In future though, it would be nice to see the brands taking a more daring approach, using their status to push the local scene in a more diverse direction, rather than repeating last years bookings. After all, there isn’t much other choice at the moment in Birmingham when it comes to this side of club culture, so their output is crucial.