It might be strange to think that Helena Hauff’s first visit to Wire was on an inconspicuous Tuesday night in November 2015. This time, though, her visit was comfortably one of the city’s most significant and irresistible winter bookings.
In the two years that separates these two gigs; relentless touring, acclaimed sets at festivals and a residency on Radio 1 have all propelled the German into becoming one of left-field dance music’s most prominent forces.
As a result, she is in form and highly fashionable; perhaps an unusual thing to say about a DJ whose sets are invariably esoteric and uncompromising, but it is this inconsistency, between her wide popularity and the music that she plays, that serves as a testament to her unique and undeniable dexterity as a DJ – which manifests itself in the rare ability to exhilarate a crowd with unfamiliar records.
This singular skill characterized her two-and-a-half-hour vinyl set in the basement.
After Subdub’s Simon Scott had set the tone with a broad selection of techno and EBM, Hauff took things down a notch, delving into atmospheric electro before swerving into obscure 80’s synth pop, spacey breakbeat and acid; the crowd growing hungry for her to turn the room on its head.
Unsurprisingly, she did just that, but it was hardly immediate. Instead, the selections got continuously harder, darker and more compelling. The sinister rolling bassline of Arnold Steiner’s ‘Inertia Collision’ and the surging acid synths of DK9’s reworked ‘The New Beginning’ both doing damage as the German followed a groove.
With a climactic finish not far off, she produced the night’s most memorable moment, unleashing George Lanham’s ‘Fullbourn Haze’; a ravey, four-to-the-floor techno weapon that drove the crowd wild and seemed to send Wire’s red lighting and smoke machine into overdrive.
It was the kind of wild moment only a DJ of Hauff’s calibre could create, silencing skeptics and (re-)reminding the rest that the hype is real, and there’s nothing that will stop it.
Image credits: Wire