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Live Music Review: One Night in Nottingham at The Maze

23 May 17 words: Gordon Stribling

We had a trek up Mansfield Road for a proper old-school rave that did it like they don't do 'em any more...

The past decade or so has been pretty rough on Nottingham’s music scene. Venue closures and a changing nightlife culture have all taken their toll on our once-thriving musical hotspot. While Stealth and its ilk still manage to attract each new student cohort with big-name DJs, those of us who prefer our beats a bit grittier and rougher around the edges were, for a long time, left to wallow in perpetual nostalgia, pining for the days of the notorious but glorious Blueprint (RIP).

But, in recent years, hub of sound and stage The Maze has become a new home for the city’s rave community, with One Night in Nottingham (ONIN) very much its flagship underground club night.

Run by DJ and Unknown Era drummer Andy aka “Hypnotoad”, ONIN draws a diverse crowd from the East Midlands and beyond. A winning cocktail of legendary underground DJs, wildly diverse music and a “leave your frowny face at the door” policy have created an intense but friendly atmosphere to rival those legendary nights of old.

The rave begins to take shape as the ‘Toad weaves together his hour-long torrent of techno. Sideline stragglers spill onto the dancefloor, bridging the gaps between clusters of people. I decide to head upstairs, winding my way through the crowd, up the narrow staircase and into the eclectic second room. Though the intimate room has all the trademarks of a “safe space” where you might recuperate between marathon stomping sessions, Moon Penguin’s thudding trance and looping breaks soon shatter any illusion of calm. Things continue at pace thanks to Usedtobecool’s Accelerating Wobble, which morphs into squelchy, meaty dubstep that has people pummelling the air with their fists as if trying to fight their way through the wall of bass.

Downstairs, headliner and all-round techno legend D.A.V.E The Drummer carries on where previous ONIN headliners left off, unleashing a torrent of relentless, clattering beats through the crisp soundsystem. Enraptured revellers cling on to the railings surrounding the stage, their faces displaying the universal twisted snarl that characterises the “bass face”. I unscrew my own twisted mush to see that the club is heaving but not claustrophobic, a balance no doubt welcomed by those who utilise the space by stomping around and flailing their limbs like angry spider monkeys.

I head back upstairs, intending to tread water before the final push. Of course, by now, the BPMs have ramped up and I spend the next two hours zipping between the steady throb of techno and fast and frantic drum’n’bass and hardtek (which, it turns out, warm me up nicely for the final hour).

A chorus of cheers and unintelligible drunken shouts welcome the arrival of Bangface resident, Dave Skywalker. While no stranger to these parts, the prospect of a world-exclusive techno set was clearly incentive enough for the many who powered through to the final hour. True to form, the man delivered more than we could have hoped for, visibly enjoying himself as much as, or even more than, the crowd; bringing to a close One Night In Nottingham and setting a dizzyingly-high bar for the next one.

One Night in Nottingham took place at The Maze on Friday 19 May 2017.

The Maze website

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