Sunday, November 16, 2003

Went to see John Digweed on Friday night. Was actually considering giving it a miss because I didn't have anyone to go with and my knees were hurting, but I couldn't resist the fact that the legendary Diggers was going to be playing a four hour set with no change in the entrance cover of S$23 whatsoever.

I got to the club just after 11 pm, when Diggers was scheduled to come on. I went to the main dancefloor and saw that it was rather empty. At about 1130 pm, two of my colleagues SMS'd me to let me know that they'd decided to come after all, and were at the entrance to Phuture. I went off to collect them, brought them back to the main dancefloor and discovered much to my surprise that it was now completely full up. We weren't bothered though. We went off to get ourselves some drinks and then proceeded to go off to the ladies' platform. The music was okay then, but I figured that with four hours, Digweed had ample time to warm up, and that this was going to be one hell of a set. He started off with some deep house (I think - it was house with a little more drums than usual and was what I'd consider to be sensual and sexy) for the first hour, and we just took it easy, chilling by the sidelines indulging in some leisurely dancing (i.e. slower than my usual standard).

The second hour, Digweed progressed into somewhat more electro-house (heavy on the synths), which was a bit more hardcore than the first hour, and what my friends enjoyed. I was happy because based on my experience with Digweed's style at Bedrock's 5th birthday, I figured that he'd change genre from hour to hour, and that each hour would only get better. So far, he hadn't proved me wrong. We still didn't dance too much though; the floor was packed and so many people just kept walking by us that it was difficult to dance. So off we went to use our second coupon to get more drinks. Unfortunately, it took us close to half an hour (inclusive of queueing time) before we managed to get our drinks. By that time, Digweed had changed style again, upping the tempo somewhat. So I hastily finished my Vodka Ribena and dragged my friend off to the platform so that we could get some space to dance. That was the first time I'd been on the podium at Zouk this year. Last year, I'd been on it twice, and each time, I had a fantastic night, and this time proved to be no different, in spite of the fact that it was still packed and a little difficult to move. Still, it was a lot better than being on the dance floor.

I don't recall that much about the tracks he was playing as I didn't recognise many of them. He wasn't playing very much vocal music, which I tend to prefer, but I didn't object. However, when he did play vocals, the response he got was really good with the whole crowd cheering and responding. For once, it seemed more like an educated crowd was at Zouk, rather than the usual clueless bunch of poseurs. The biggest tune of the night had to be the one that he closed off the 1 am to 2 am hour with, and it happened to be one of the few tunes I recognised that night. It was one of the tracks that Digweed played towards the end of Bedrock's 5th birthday, but I wasn't able to find out what song it was although I'll recognise it if I hear it again. I really really like it. He also dropped Sasha's remix of Unkle's "In A State" (which you can listen to here), which I also enjoyed tremendously.

Digweed's DJing style was excellent too and I felt he used build-ups and breakdowns very effectively. In spite of the length of his set, the quality was consistent throughout and he managed to keep the crowd's energy level high. It's not often that you see the entire crowd dancing away for three hours straight without anyone leaving.

By the time he ended, it was 3.00 am. The crowd was chanting Digweed's name, going "We want more! We want more!" and he duly obliged, kicking off his encore with a tune similar to the kind he was playing in the first hour, before building up into something more hardcore and dropping an electro-house tune. The weird thing about the tune was that I heard hints of "Heaven Sent" in that. I'm guessing he sampled it and used it here, but he really had me for a moment that. I was really hoping he'd play that tune, even if it is old! He ended. The time was 3.13 am. Again the crowd begged for more. And then he dropped something very unusual - a house remix of Kylie's latest single, Slow. It's the first time I've found myself dancing to hip hop house, and I must say that it was a very enjoyable experience to be able to give my knees a rest (electronic music dancing takes a heavy toll on my knees) and just bust off some hip hop moves. The remix wasn't at all bad, especially when after about five minutes of the song (hip hop with a twinge of electronic remixing), the electronica kicked in and we all went back to our usual raver style of dancing.

At about 3.25, his second encore ended, and I was about to get off the platform since I didn't think that Zouk was going to allow Digweed to play further. However, much to my delight, I was proven wrong, and the lights dimmed once again to present the third and final encore. He played something which I thought was retro house... retro meaning that the melodies that I could hear somehow seemed more seventies than anything else. In fact, I realised that for all three encores (other than the Kylie), there was a strong overtone of retro house throughout most of the tunes he chose to drop. But then again, I'm not an expert, so I could have been wrong.

All in all, I enjoyed his set quite a bit. It's the longest I've heard him play - just over four and a half hours - and I'm happy to say that it was definitely a consistenly high quality set throughout. There wasn't any moment when I found myself just wanting to yell, "Get on with it!" (which has happened at Sasha's sets) and to put it simply... it was brilliant. I loved that he drifted from genre to genre effortlessly, and just upped a notch with each hour.

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