Off Beat x Family Tree
Last month I visited my second venue whilst staying in Manchester, the underground wonderland of Versions. I’ve actually visited the above ground bar, Joshua Brooks many times for a swift pint whilst navigating the rainy city. The underground space, however, is simply a basement stripped down to the bare historic brickwork, but with a cool as fuck, 4 point void sound system inserted. A perfect venue for the collectives of Off Beat and Family Tree to bring expert selectors of electronic music, Hubie Davison & Tom Blip to play a Friday night show.
Family Tree (ran by Hiren Parmar and Spencer Finch) featured in our last months Top 10 feature with a trip to Antwerp Mansion. Off Beat is run by four local lads (Zephyr Orsler, Jack Rivington, Lawrence Collins and Edouard Archer) and they are in the business of putting on progressive thinking nights with amazing DJs, and man, business is good! In the past, they have featured Benny Page, Kenny Ken, Ed Solo and many more on their line-ups and have built up a dedicated following in the process. They are great networkers online as well, the first I came across the brand was via their banging mixes on SoundCloud.
The night started off with the families of Off Beat and Family Tree playing a mixture of genres, mixing for fun. Going to the bar, house doubles are only £4, Rum and Coke, please and thank you Mr barman. I get chatting with the residents and settle in for the evening. I feel strangely at home in this unfamiliar place, due to the fact that I’m surrounded by fellow music heads, each person feeding off the brilliant vibe within the brick walls. Zepher (pictured left) drops a jazzy number, Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia) by Us3 and his Off Beat colleague, Laurence (pictured right) follows with a Mangwana (A Vision Of Panorama mix), a funky disco track with eases the growing crowd onto the dancefloor.
Next up are the Family Tree boys starting with their signature intro track, Family Tree (Disco Version) by Family Tree, the song that inspired the event name. Spencer brings in the smooth grooves of I Get Lifted (Todd Terje Tangoterje Re-Edit), the swinging funk beat moves the crowd as the beautiful vocals of KC & the Sunshine Band echo around the room. Hiren (pictured: right) steps up to the decks and drops a tune that I’ve heard before, but can’t quite put my finger on it. Spencer (pictured: left) laughs as I Shazam away, telling me its a remix of a Beethoven track (specifically, A fifth of Beethoven The Reflex Re-Vision)
Tom Blip starts his set with a twist playing jazz numbers like Sandalia Dela by Duke Pearson and Ghana by Donald Byrd. I must say that they were unexpected selects but none the less they fitted into the night perfectly. You could almost close your eyes and imagine your in a New York swing hall in the 1920s. Mr Blip behind the decks has a cheerful aura about him, very much in tune with the music. He bounces happily around the booth, stopping only to select another picture from his vast collection of rhythms in his record bag. As I take a picture, he grins at me and then continues at his work, this time slipping in Disco Baby (Floating Points & Red Greg Edit).
The crowd are fully committed this evening, dancing joyfully without missing a beat. Some are furiously cutting shapes with speaker cones pounding behind them, it’s a sign that it’s the weekend, a time to cut loose and dance those weekday blues far far away. I love the attire of the crowd this evening, something that I’ve come to see a lot of in the music scene of the city, so many colours and patterns matching the vibrant atmosphere of the dancefloor. As Tom Blip (pictured: left) continues to keep the crowd bouncing to the beat, I weave through the crowd taking a few pictures, spotting my favourite garm of the evening! (pictured: right)
The set continues with a mixture of sounds, interestingly switching into hip-hop sounds now, in the form of N.W.A. The vocal “give me something to dance to” is met by claps from the crowd, Blip responds with an appreciated rewind. The bass rumbles once more through the venue. In a cool change-up, he blends in The Way You Move by OutKast. The night continues on in a menagerie of music. This is what I loved about Tom Blip’s set the most, just the range of genres, and the smooth transition from one to the next. He slowed things down Bobeira by Edson Frederico and brought back the funk with Mr Funky Samba by Banda Black Rio, all which went down well in the room.
As 2am approached, it was Hubie Davison’s turn to work his magic in the DJ booth. He starts off with a Tribal rhythm track with a smidgen of jazz. I later find out that this is one of his tracks, an unreleased gem called Embers. Next he brings in the house grooves of Do It Right by Frogmen. Later he drops in one of my favourite tracks of the evening, Be My Ladyboy by Tornado Wallace, a deep funky new disco track that keeps the crowd grooving. Hubie (pictured: left) is loving every minute of his set, the Irish DJ kindly divulges the previous track name as my shazam in true fashion gives up the ghost (modern technology, eh?).
I cannot hold my excitement as Hubie Davison drops in Musique by Daft Punk. A dancefloor winner any night of the week, the French touch vibes are a huge hit on the dancefloor and if things couldn’t get any better (for me personally) he changes up the vibe to a track that I’ve become very familiar with over in Ibiza. Tell You No Lie by Floorplan (aka Robert Hood) is a straight-up dancefloor heater, with beautiful vocals that you can just sing along to, I certainly jammed down to this wonderful tune. Hiren from Family Tree is on the lighting controls, illuminating the room in brilliant flashes of strobe light, red and blue beams spin around the jumping ravers.
The night starts to draw to a close, Davison begins to really take the crowd on an electronic euphoric journey. Notable tracks included One More Fluorescent Rush by Avalon Emerson and The Shape of Trance to Come by Lorenzo Senni. Hearing these tracks makes me wonder, are we due for a Trance resurgence in 2018, the high octane production certainly tips towards that fact and it’s a pleasure to hear these uplifting sounds grace the dancefloors of the underground once again.
As one of the final tunes play out, Rodent by Burial, I say goodbye to the crews of Off Beat and Family Tree, who are now relaxing around the venue, basking in the success of a great night. Their smiles say it all and I can’t help but smile myself as I walk out of the venue, leaving Versions behind me having had a thoroughly enjoyable night on the dancefloor.
Words & Photography |Michael Tomlinson – [ZF]
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