We arrived at The Warehouse (aka The Mo’club) a little after midnight. I didn’t really know what to expect from the venue (it being my first time there) but I was pleasantly surprised. Something about warehouse raves and Southampton seemed incompatible in my imagination but the venue was quite a treat: The extensive oblong room was boiling hot and the music was pounding. We had entered a little bit after the start of Velour, a duo that is usually comprised of Julio Bashmore (the headliner for the night) and Hyetal but it was just Hyetal behind the decks on Saturday. We went to deposit our coats in the cloakroom but, alas, it was full. Although this saved us a tuppence each we were left to stash our coats in the corner of the venue and guard them whilst we danced away. As several people later informed us, the cloakroom had been full since before midnight. A minor grievance, but perhaps not surprising given how warm and busy the venue was. The night was sold out but having said that there was still a good amount of room to move around in and the bar was easily accessible. Luckily we had also found a sweet spot for the music in the room and stayed there for most the night. The system, although rammed with low end, lost its edge in the midst of the venue’s acoustics.
Hyetal was pummelling out a sort of disco infused bass music, I remember one particular tune (although I have no idea of the name) that had an incredible 808 rim click groove. Incidentally, the light show in the warehouse was easily the best I have seen in Southampton and is definitely a selling point for the venue. As Velour drew to the end of his set he dropped Roska’s unmistakable classic “Squark” and finished on a sort of funk infused grime instrumental. Something that seemed to start a bit of a trend as sporadic grime tunes were dropped in various places throughout the night quite unexpectedly.
We were anticipating that Kowton would play for 90 minutes just after Velour but the running order was shifted around and, unfortunately, after an enjoyable and interesting set from Velour we had to bear through a somewhat less enjoyable and less interesting 90 minute set from a resident DJ. He played samey, mid-range bass-house that was all severely lacking in funk and soul. We popped outside for a quick respite and to cool off in preparation for Kowton.
Suddenly, the steady 4/4 rhythm you could hear from outside finished and something much more intricate began, enter Kowton. I had seen Kowton at Fabric in London the week before and he was spectacular there so I was definitely looking forward to seeing him again. The first 15 minutes of his set was laced with very dark British techno but the crowd, who had seemingly come along for something much more light hearted, were not quite feeling it. Kowton quickly switched up into more house-tinted music, but still managed to incorporate tracks with huge sub bass and intricate drum patterns that were impossible to predict. It was easily the stand out set of the night in my opinion but Kowton seemed slightly nervous, lacking a a sense of continuity through his set, perhaps trying to keep hold of a slightly disinterested crowd. The last 10 minutes of his performance featured tunes from the likes of Mumdance & Logos and culminated with the epic “Woo Riddim“, bringing the crowd back into focus.
Julio Bashmore then appeared on stage in his oversized grey hoodie and flat cap, wearing his headphones outside of his hood. He took over from Kowton with a sort of rolling house tune lacking the 4/4 and mixed it in to “Woo Riddim”. From there, he threw a rewind and the crowd clapped and whistled in polite appreciation for Kowton and in excitement for the headline act. Bashmore proceeded to showcase his love of deep house, sometimes delving a little bit into the underground but predominantly staying at a more accessible level. The crowd was locked in right through till close.
I will definitely be revisiting The Warehouse. I was surprised by high the standard of the venue (although my girlfriend informs me the portaloos were pretty grim). The system, as is the case with most warehouse venues, was lost in some places but if you found a sweetspot in the room it certainly pummelled your chest. Velour and Julio Bashmore would have perhaps been better complimented by a more house-oriented 3rd act but having a name like Kowton in Southampton is always a good thing and Julio Bashmore really pulled in the numbers and delivered what the crowd wanted.