Deep into Nottingham’s first night of February, the city isn’t half feeling chilleh. Old buildings’ bricks have formed frosty layers and the roads are coated in grit. Still, drinkers, dancers, ravers, probably their mums and their dads too, are out on a Friday night; iced fog trailing after clacking heels in Hockley’s cobbled streets.
For some, however, Audiobahn’s welcoming of Bruce - the Bristolian techno champion of recent times - is enough motivation to venture into the brisk night all in the name of rave. Last year Bruce brought out the album Sonder Somatic on infamous techno record label Hessle Audio. The album, released back in October, has been regarded as being up there with some of the most promising and exciting techno works of 2018, alongside Skee Mask’s Compro and Marie Davidson’s Working Class Woman. To have the man of moment playing for a small crowd in a bar in Nottingham is truly special, and it’s clear.
After nipping to the Four Four DJ Academy for some warm-up music and a few pint-sized Stellas, and then quickly checking out the Colours night over at Box, a group of us head over to Bar Eleven, where Bruce is set to unleash an array of his techno sound. This sound we talk of has been described as a “fragmented, low-frequency meltdown, evocative shimmers of light emanating from the cracks” and is something that hasn’t been properly heard in Nottingham for some time. Until now.
This controlled, scientific use of abrasive sounds is exactly what the crowd of eager fans (who have swiftly filled Bar Eleven up to the rafters) are receiving. And the late 5am license the Audiobahn boys have managed to acquire means Bruce can really go in hard with the Hessle Audio vibes for as long as he wants.
He toys with UK Funky flavours before diving hard into breaks and a dark, now iconic, leftfield UK take on techno. Playing his own dancefloor-focused tracks such as the amazing What from his own album, Bruce seems delighted towards the end of the set, and the final moments cram themselves in thick and fast. He takes it out of techno and into dubstep territory at one point, playing Ghost - The Club before boldly moving into a track by Yaeji and the place erupts. This energy from the room, which comes from a chaotic blur of Nottingham local techno fans and awe-inspired uni students, is reflected in the music until closing time.
Bruce’s amazing set ends on a high, but looking at the love for the up-coming artist, his trip has only just begun and, indeed, this will not be Bruce’s only stop-off in Nottingham we’re sure. For now, we can only await the next perfect headline booking from Audiobahn, who seem to be on a serious roll.
Audiobahn's night with Bruce took place on Friday 1 February 2019