Inner City Electronic – Review

No one could have quite prepared the city of Leeds for what lay ahead on the 2nd of June. In the midst of endless hours spent in the library, Inner City Electronic proved to be the perfect remedy for students after exam season, striking the city with a pulse of electronic music. Yet, it proved to be so much more than an end of year party for students, alternatively it acted as a celebration of the people and places that have nurtured the electronic scene and contributed so heavily to Leeds nightlife over the years.

Ralph Lawson who curated the event, ensured that it served to remember the roots of electronic music in Leeds. This included Q+A’s with the likes of Dave Beer, reciting the hedonistic tales of Back to Basics, the clubbing night that gave birth to Leeds’s love affair with electronic music. The incorporation of masterclasses and panels with artists and industry experts acted as a firm statement from the promoters, that this event is not simply about celebrating the city’s history with electronic music, but more importantly about building upon it. Aspiring producers were even given the opportunity to showcase their work to industry experts and heads of labels.

One word that comes into mind about the whole event is collaboration, the best example of this is the venues that were used. Over twelve venues were used for this event, going from Hyde Park Book Club to Church. A unique showing at the event was KinK’s mix masterclass which took place at Sheaf St. Despite a late start and faulty equipment, he powered through in style, using only a laptop and drum machine. The talk was full of insight not just about the mixing, but the music industry in general. One talk point was how he had adapted as an artist over the rigorous years of touring, learning to adapt to the crowd and to never force a sound upon them. He also talked of his annoyance at the state of the music industry, “It feels like nowadays being a good musician is an extra, that comes behind having a good image and manager.” His set later that night at Church didn’t disappoint, his set-up was all mended from Sheaf St., with it he delivered a set that showcased what live performance should be about. Joy Orbison was also on the star studded line-up at Church, flirting with all kinds of sounds, leaping from dancehall to acid.

Above all venues Sheaf Street’s 11 hour garden party stood out, party-goers were treated to warm weather complimented by sets from Crazy P, PBR Streetgang and Simon Morrell. A nice touch from the venue is featured up on the decks, a sign above reads “You’re not a God You’re a DJ”. The quote is of upmost relevance to the venue, where the likes of Ron Basejam and Dave Beer can be seen talking to the party-goers.  All the while there were masterclasses and talks going on inside, providing aspiring producers and artists with knowledge of music equipment and technology.  Elsewhere, Detroit Swindle showcased new material to a packed Hi-Fi club, taking the party into the early hours of Sunday. Helena Hauff rounded off the event at Wire with a 6-8am set, those who braved it through a Leeds sunrise were treated to a fittingly dark set to end the night.

Inner City Electronic was an event that championed Leeds’s venues, artists and history. It simply has to go down as one of the city’s biggest successes over the years when it comes to electronic music, attracting an audience young and old who share the same love of Leeds and its music scene. No one can doubt the unbelievable line-up laid before party-goers, that showcased some of the best electronic artists not only in Leeds, but the World. For me the most pleasant surprise of the event was finding a new love for Sheaf Street, one of the smaller venues for the event. If the festival was to go ahead next year, I believe it would be a good idea to spread the most popular artists around all the different venues. I couldn’t help but notice that most of them played later on at Church and Wire, which left the smaller venues slightly isolated. This of course is only the first year of a very promising festival which has already delivered so much more than many thought it could, celebrating, and in turn accentuating Leeds’s love affair with electronic music.

Josh Crowe