REVIEW: MR SCRUFF @ ROXX – 15.02.14

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On Saturday 15th February, Southampton locals and some from further afield descended on one of the city’s more recent nightlife developments: RoXX in Bedford Place. Promoting a good time guarantee as well as a boogie to be had, I was interested to see the audience Mr Scruff’s own brand of electronic music would attract. Stepping through the door made one thing apparent: This wasn’t your run of the mill ‘deep house’ shuffle-off. There were as many beards and dreadlocks as snap-backs and Air Max’s, certainly a refreshing break from a club scene that many would argue has become more about who has the most exclusive trainers than an appreciation for the music.

While I can’t speak for the entire audience, I was certainly struck by the politeness of many crowd members, rather than the sweaty types with no sense of personal space a third year student becomes accustomed to. This fits in with Scruff’s ethos: A bunch of ‘lovely dancing folk’ getting together to enjoy some quality DJing.

With Mr Scruff’s Tea Shop offering merchandise as well as teas, coffee, and even fruit, emphasis was firmly placed on dancing and enjoyment of the music rather than substance consumption. The artist himself offered supreme value for money, DJing for the night’ s duration from 10-3. Starting with more mellow soul and jazz influenced music, the night quickly got feet moving, with only a few of the audience dotted around the outskirts fighting the unavoidable urge to dance.

Mr Scruff’s track selection was as eclectic as the club’s clientèle, with genres ranging from soul and afrobeat to the artist’s own brand of ‘wobbly’ basslines, punctuated with vintage hip hop beats and raps. I found myself genuinely interested in what track Scruff would bring out next from his crates of vinyl behind the decks. Mixing with both an assured hand that one would expect from the veteran Ninja Tune DJ and also a refreshing creativity, Scruff found links between tunes that toured a plethora of musical genres without ever sounding like a medley.

All tracks shared a similar vibe, with the feet-moving groove that promotional posters promised ever-present. Allowing some records to mellow out, rather than continuous mixing, helped further avoid the monotony that is unfortunately present at many other electronic acts, as well as offering the crowd some time to collect themselves before the next bout of upbeat dancing. The audience were also treated to some of Scruff’s latest creations, identified by the “brand new Scruff tune” graphics on the projection screen behind the DJ booth. The DJs various cartoon avatars moved in perfect synchronization with the music, alerting the audience of “incoming basslines” and adding a strong visual element to an already full-on show.

Overall, a great show – and one I would recommend to anybody who has not witnessed a Mr Scruff set at full throttle. While it may not compare to the live experience, the gentleman himself has even made his entire set available to download free of charge.

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