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Gig Review: A Sides (UK) with MC Tali & Chiccoreli

Flux is fast becoming one of the best venues in Christchurch, especially in a city still struggling to provide a decent array of nightlife venues free from noise complaints and poor zoning decisions. Situated in The Boxed Quarter, a cozy assortment of container-like structures hosting eateries and office spaces, it offers a vibe unlike any other, with an open-air design and a flow between the astro-turfed dance area and the internal room where the DJ performs. Keen punters can get in behind the decks, and also right up in front of the DJ for a rare, intimate experience.

Saturday night hosted veteran UK artist A Sides, a frequent visitor to our shores who spent the lockdown period here. As perhaps the only international-based DnB artist in the country at the moment it was a rare treat, and he brought along the always-professional Liquid Lowdown team, Chiccoreli & MC Tali.

The 200-capacity venue was already brimming full at 10pm as Chic and Tali brought the liquid vibes with an array of deep and soulful tunes. Don’t Ever by Hybrid Minds feat DRS, the recent Just Hold On remix from Pola & Bryson, and the classic Let Me Be Your Fantasy by Baby D all made a welcome appearance, with tight, fluid mixing from Chiccoreli while Tali (rocking wicked sequined pants) expertly worked the crowd, at one point leading a singalong of Ready Or Not, as well as her own Love and Migration. A technical hitch with A Sides' Serato box not playing nice with Pioneer’s new 6-channel mixer meant they stayed on a bit longer than expected, ramping up the energy with tunes like Bump Up The Sound by Document One.

The appreciative crowd chanted “Tali! Tali!” as the performers made way for A-Sides, who was straight into the thick of it with an assortment of the kind of deep, street-wise beats that established his Eastside Records as one of the pioneering labels for intelligent yet rugged tunes. A few recent favourites had a great reception, including Ultrasonic by artists-of-the-moment The Sauce, and Serum’s new anthem Trident (recently released on Doc Scott’s 31 Recordings) getting everyone riled up. It was a dub-heavy set where I struggled to place the tunes but with tasteful foghorns, future jungle riddims and on-point blends, it was a treat to experience a true pioneer hold a crowd spellbound.

It was a younger crowd than usual – the post-lockdown dance scene has seen a real boost to ticket sales and enthusiasm to party – and an unfortunate trend reared its head. Over-intoxication and aggressive dancefloor behaviour has no place in a DnB rave, which is built on respect, tolerance, and a deep love and appreciation of the music. With puking teenagers in the toilets, bathroom stalls packed with kids snorting gear, oafish punters barging elbows-first through the dancefloor to the detriment of others, and people just standing round on their phones in front of the decks, any kind of fun, positive vibe gets destroyed quickly.

With footage of massive, violent mosh pits emerging from a gig at an Auckland venue over the weekend, this problem isn’t limited to Christchurch. With some promoters actively encouraging this sort of behaviour, it’s a difficult challenge to overcome, but surely we need to get back to a rave etiquette which ensures a fun night for everyone, not just those who get the most wasted.

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