Friday 16th January Keep It Deep took a trip to the Bethnal Green arches to check out London’s underground party Undersound, who had Andrew James Gustav, Etienne & Francesco Del Garda providing the musical repertoire for the evening.
London’s club scene is going through a period of change which is natural when you have significant social and economic movement. The most obvious evidence of this is club closure (The End, The Cross, Turnmills, T-Bar etc) or increased restriction like Fabric more recently. There is hope and there are small pockets of new ideas and new concepts that need to be shouted about and explored and Undersound is one of the community based movements that represent a new energy and style, don’t believe me go check it out and make up your own mind.
The concept for the party is really clear and concise book tight djs who search, research, seek and play mostly vinyl of the up most quality from different genres and years. No hype no commercial headliners or obvious venue choices, this party is one of London’s Best kept secrets and if you frequent, Toi Toi, Half Baked, Cartulis, Open, Night Moves & newly formed Gateway to Zen to name a few, Undersound could appeal to you also.
The party started at 11pm so I casually mooched over to the Bethnal Green arches around midnight to arrive for Andrew James Gustav who was on warm up duty. The bouncers on the door came across as super friendly and recognisable from other parties, which made entry effortless and easy.
As I entered the main room Arch I could hear sub 126 bpm tech house grooves being pushed out of the Martin Audio sound system. The space looked like it could hold 250 people comfortably and the sound was clean, clear and warm, not to loud for the early part of the night, which is very much appreciated. There was a stack in front of the DJ and also speakers at the back of the room to aid the sound picture and architecture.
The space was not busy but had bodies dotted around, the crowd overall seemed a bit older, more casual and concerned with the music and dancing. I also started to spot some other local djs and promoters inside the place, which was nice to see. Behind the dj booth there was a rolling video of graphics and illustration, which lent well to the music, space and atmosphere.
Andrew James Gustav was the warm up dj and over the last 6 months his prominence and status has grown. He is a true vinyl collector, and you are very well versed if you can recognise any of the tracks, as the majority of them are rare, hard to find or quite old. There is a simple pleasure I gain from watching Andrew dj, he plays music he likes and it fit likes glue to his sound, there is a metallic edge to the production, very rough and from another time period around the early to mid 90s. There is a defining break beak and mid 90s tech house stamp all over this sound, not forgetting some snippets of uk garage also. Andrew has a clinically tight style of mixing, which is very efficient, less is more and the music is well and truly showcased, not much eq’ing and messing around with fx on the Allen & Heath Zone 92 mixer I observed.
The highlight to Andrew’s set came as we heard two unreleased jams by Bruno Schmidt who crafted podcast number nine which you can check out here. There was a distinct garage shuffle and nagging lead hook, which got heads and feet nodding. The dance floor slowly oozed with more bodies, I noticed several dancers down the front alone, enjoying and appreciating the music, the vibe, the party and the atmosphere. Francesco Del Garda had arrived and the party was slowly taking form and shape.
At around 3am I felt fully content with my musical experience carefully guided by Andrew James Gustav on the decks. Next up came Etienne and then Francesco Del Garda to close the party. I am sure all the good work and great energy would have carried on into the morning and at the after party.
Overall if you have not reached an Undersound party to date, I strongly recommend you reach and see what the real Underground looks and feels like. The music takes centre stage and like everyone else in the room you will very quickly be part of a nice community you secretly don’t want to share with to many. You don’t have to arrive with an entourage of people, everyone was super friendly and the spaces are carefully considered, and finally the music, tirelessly assorted from an collection of djs who care so much it really is heart warming to see, this city is tireless and the new creatives pushing things forwards are doing so with there own voice.
Check the Undersound Facebook group for details here on there next party and for updates on there podcast series and record label also.