Since its opening in 2012, RoXX has experienced continued success from ‘leasing’ its amenities to in-house promoter HEAVY.DJ, that has brought the likes of Zinc, Rudimental, Rustie and Southampton’s own Royal-T to the city. Continuing in their seemingly alliterative booking tendencies, tonight’s Rinse FM hosted show is headlined by fast-upcoming DJ Redlight, who’s distinctive brand of bassline-driven house has earned him releases on a range of labels that reflect his developing style — from Shy FX’s Digital Soundboy to Lobster Boy Records, most recently.
Despite the strength of the line-up and the timing of this booking — right at the end of University term time — RoXX is significantly less busy upon arrival tonight than I had anticipated; their dub night with Mungo’s Hi Fi recently attracted a substantially larger entrance queue. This is not to say however that there was a lack of atmosphere early in the evening, as significant crowds gathered to watch Southampton’s most reliable multi-club resident, BITR8 at around 11.45. His regular appearance on weighty bills is no accident — the ubiquitous DJ is one of the most consistent around, and never has any issue with crafting a set perfectly suited to set the tone for the remainder of the night. A stalwart of the scene in Southampton, BITR8 satisfies the ‘entertainer’ quality of a DJ impressively, playing a rehearsed, recognisable set of garage-influenced house that sufficiently whets the audience’s interest.
After playing for an extended hour, the decks are seized by Klose One shortly before 2am — the missing hour here explained by the changing of the clocks. Described as a “DJ’s DJ” on his own SoundCloud page, Klose One can boast that the bulk of his reputation can be attributed to his mixing rather than production — an enviable accolade which guarantees his competence in a club environment. Indeed, the resulting hour showcases his skill with a densely packed mix that is worthy of the Rinse FM logo on tonight’s posters, comprising the best in current and classic garage and house, the highlight of which is undoubtedly Joy O’s “BRTHDTT“.
The last set of the night goes to the headline act tonight, and the audience reacts accordingly to greet Redlight to the stage. Displaying a similar style to Klose One before him, Redlight’s set demonstrates the slight shift in recent popularity of electronic music in the UK, with a stronger focus on tech-house than we may have seen from a more garage-centric set of his in 2010, for example. The choice to leave out promoter-touted crowd pleasers like “Source 16” and “Stupid” in favour of tracks from recent release “36” is one which is clearly motivated — and not even slightly condemnable from a fan’s point of view — but his newer productions are undeniably weaker pieces of work, even if they do seem more at home amongst the remainder of his set. Despite this, the set is expertly mixed, and inspires more movement from the crowd than the dance floor had seen thus far tonight, even inspiring a chant for an encore come 4am — a request which is swiftly and puzzlingly denied by RoXX’s security staff despite the loss of an hour from the night. Highlights from Redlight’s set include brand new tracks from fellow Bristolians; NYTA’s “95” and “Enemies in the Dance” by Spoils and Monkey Wrench.
Although they may not agree, RoXX benefited tonight from what can only be described as a slightly depleted crowd — perhaps due to the presence of Paul Woolford across town — as usual irritations experienced from a combination of large crowds and questionable venue layout choices were not an issue. A solid set of DJ performances and a healthy atmosphere in a promising venue resulted in a successful return for HEAVY.DJ to Southampton.