WORDS: James Budd
Us Brits love a good underdog. Perhaps it’s the mentality gained from living in a small country with a big reputation. Unlike our infinitely optimistic American cousins, we’re a nation of self-doubt, pessimism and defeatism, but we’ll back the wildcard all day long. We are the Leicester City supporters. Even the plucky British Bulldog doesn’t let go once it’s got its teeth into an opponent.
Taking this into account, it’s (almost) no surprise that the star of the show last Friday was none other than Milk The Cow regular and Geordie favourite, Choc. At an event with two globally renowned techno producers on the bill, reputation and fame bowed at the feet of nostalgia and fun, as Greys Club erupted to the sounds of happy hardcore. The closing hour of the Daftys Rave Terrace truly was the epitome of North East rave spirit.
But let’s backtrack a little, as there was a lot more going on before a smoking area full of pilled-up veterans and youths united to belt out the lyrics to Force & Styles’ Heart Of Gold. Pidge was on warm-up duty in the main room, easing the punters into a night of fist pumping four-to-the-floor with some moderately calm techno, making sure not to scare off those who weren’t quite in session mode just yet. Simultaneously, Kris Gofton had the terrace skanking and two-stepping to the some particularly pleasurable jungle. The night was young, but it was clear that the smoking area would offer people a break from the relentless 4/4 vibes of upstairs. Techno is fun, but you can’t beat lashings of amen breaks over some fat sub-bass (with the odd ragga vocal thrown in for good measure) in my opinion.
Following Kris, Geordie grime duo HB (H-Man and Just B) teamed up with chief tune chopper, Pegz, to bring the crowd a performance brimming with energy and attitude. Although there was a distinct drop in tempo, it was received well by all, with people pushing to get closer to the action. It’s always good to see something different at an event, something you didn’t expect, and this was it. I’m usually highly cynical when it comes to MCs, live hip-hop can be very hit-and-miss if the vibe isn’t right, but the lads pulled it off without a hitch.
After some mandatory technical difficulties (glossed over by DJ UEP and his comical hosting skills on the microphone), came the Raw Vibe boys, Fridgeman and Tiffin on the ones and twos, Drop Dead Fred controlling the mic. A winning combination, and destined to be an eclectically positive mix. I heard Squire Of Gothos’ Gotta Be A Better Way for the first time in ages; tune of the night for me. I also heard Vandal, someone whose music I do believe the Cow crew said would never be heard at one of their raves. There was jungle, bassline, raggatek, there were light bulb jokes, and it was all bloody fantastic. Did I mention that jungle’s miles better than techno?
Pulling myself away from the Daftys Rave Terrace for a while, I managed to catch someone who’d massively impressed me at my last Milk The Cow night. John Rowe tore up the main room with yet another pearl of a set, an amalgamation of techno in all of its forms. There was stomping techno, hands-in-the-air techno, DJ Assault-esque ghetto techno. Something for everyone, as long as you like techno. But it wasn’t just his tune selection that was on point, John is a wizard behind the decks, and was just as impressive this time around as he was when I saw him at Dave Clarke.
Enter, Dax J. The Berlin-residing Londoner seems to steal hearts and blow minds wherever he goes, and this was no exception. The man may have rocked the Berghain and Fabric, he may have his own record label (Monnom Black), but he faced his true test in the sticky, dingy main room of Greys Club. Sporting a plain black t-shirt, synonymous with all techno DJs, he had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. Much like himself, his music was clean, smooth, and you could still hear his jungle influences come through in his techno. Female ravers flocked to get pictures, blokes let loose their bellows of approval; I think he passed the test.
Subhead followed Dax J, and things got a lot grittier. With an array of hardware linked to his computer, the sound-system shook and rocked as the kick bins smashed out ungodly tones. There was a stark contrast to Dax J’s approach. This wasn’t as flowing, this was a wall of techno to the face. Besides a few pauses due to equipment failure (or alcohol consumption), Subhead closed upstairs in an apt fashion, and the onlookers were letting their feelings be known.
However, there was only one star of the show, and his name is Choc. Force & Styles, Nakatomi, Hixxy, Scott Brown; all names I thought I would never hear after leaving school. But for one night only, they were all in the same place, and that place was the Daftys Rave Terrace. The final hour of the night was an ode to everything happy hardcore, and if anything was to drag people away from the two big names playing upstairs, this was to be it. The set has already gained legendary status, and has made its way up the iTunes charts to its current position of number 3. I implore you to download it, dig out your popper trackies, search the pockets for an old speckled dolphin and spend the next hour reminiscing over times gone by.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have nothing but respect and admiration for Milk The Cow. The podcast, the events, the entire movement is a show of spirit. It rose from nothing, and has laughed in the face of obstacles and overcome all hurdles. Milk The Cow is an underdog, and we love a good underdog.
Download Choc's set and subscribe to the podcast here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/milk-the-cow-podcast/id935323009?mt=2
Tickets for all of Milk the Cow's events can be found here: http://www.milkthecowpodcast.com/tickets/