The revered Motion Bristol is known around the globe as one of the UK’s most in demand clubs. Landing at number 19 in DJ Mag’s Top 100 club poll in 2016, the 26th of August saw Motion transformed into an all day outdoor clubbing space, featuring some of the biggest names in unspoiled, underground house and techno. Think industrial settings (cranes, brickwork, metal) encasing the hard hitting techno sounds of Daniel Avery, Seth Troxler and Jeff Mills to name just a few. And with three open air areas to choose from – the Crane Yard, Lock Yard and Container Yard – it’s safe to say we were spoiled for choice. Yup, things were very exciting indeed.
Yard Open Air
There’s no denying that this was a special occasion; an event that highlighted Bristol’s place as a dance music mecca, a city that boasts a thriving electronic music scene, with everyone on the same wavelength. It may sound cheesy, but once you’ve headed there and experienced what this place has to offer, you see that the banging nightlife is just a small part of Bristol’s bigger picture. And what better way to celebrate this? Well an all day house and techno rave at Motion seemed like a pretty good start.
The walk there, through backstreets and broken pavements, only adds to the industrial feel of the place; the lack of houses, the odd looking factories that adorn the perimeters of Motion, makes the place feel cold, foreboding almost. Yet the sound of revelers was unmistakable as we queued, and as the sun started to peak through the cloud cover, the sense of summer was enough to warm anyone’s cockles. We started with a tour of all the various Yards, attempting to discern which one was most up our street. Upon coming out of the queue we found ourselves in the Container Yard, a sprawling outdoor space home to the humble house beats of Axel Boman. We didn’t stay for long, but were there long enough to catch his very own soothing house number ‘Hello’. It was lovely to put it bluntly, with the sun shining and a drink in hand, it felt like a true celebration of summer
We ambled over to a long outdoor corridor, aptly named the Lock Yard, to find a certain floppy haired Brit laying down some very tasty techno. Daniel Avery was in controls, and at half three in the afternoon, we couldn’t have asked for a better selector. It was a narrow corrdior, with walls on each side, and as such the thud of the snare drum echoed perfectly through the middle. Alas our memory fails in remembering the tracks he played, but it was techno. Hard hitting, non-apologetic techno that shakes you’re core into dancing, and leaves you’re head thinking “Deary me, how do they make these noises?”
Four PM was looming, and it was looming fast, so we quickly made our way back to the Container Yard. Joy Orbison was now in control, and if any DJ had the crowd in the palm of their hand during the day, then it was him. Swift, melodic and composed, the Englishman advocated diligence over drops, providing a selection of house and techno cuts that you’d be hard pressed to here elsewhere. It was Nativ’s chunky, bass driven number ‘Shifty’ that really got the crowd riled, as jungle sounding bongo drums intercepted a distorted wobble. Then, of course, various disco vintages were called upon, with the Magick Edit Allstars’ ‘The Music’s Getting Stronger’ providing five minutes of absolute summer bliss. The set was diverse but, most importantly, it was interesting, keeping us on our toes until a certain US talent took the floor.
Two hours passed quickly, and as the clock was about to strike six, the unmistakable figure of Seth Troxler soon appeared on stage. We had seen him at Elrow the weekend before, and were looking forward to seeing his track selection, because it’s safe to say the Yard Open Air crew are somewhat different to the Elrow tech house gang. Of course Diemantle’s remix of ‘Gypsy Woman‘ cropped up again to bring that summer feel, but as time passed it was clear the US export wasn’t mucking around. A rolling techno number with a vocal sample stating “conversation” dealt some damage, before Carl Craig’s remix of Recloose’s “Can I take It” provided some more housey-disco vibes. With plenty of variation, Troxler spun a two hour long set that felt fresh right the way through. And – luckily – he didn’t go in too hard, for The Wizard was soon to arrive.
Now then first off, I haven’t been in this scene for long. In fact, in the grand scheme of techno, I’ve been around for literally no time at all. So I can admit now that I was quite naive prior to witnessing Jeff Mills. In the run-up to Yard, I did some research. I saw the videos of him and his Roland TR-909, the piano playing; I watched interviews with him, the professionalism he exudes. I was excited, really excited, for here I was about to see one of techno’s original pioneers, and see his very own interpretation of this magical music.
It was dark now, with red lights bleeping sporadically through the crowd. He was behind the decks, but not in sight from where we were standing, and began with ‘The Bells’. Now some techno enthusiasts may complain “oh it’s overplayed, he always plays this” but personally we don’t have time for this cringey music snobbery. This was our first time seeing The Wizard, and when he kicked things off with one his most well known tracks, we were absolutely over the moon. He continued on, relentlessly introducing new sounds, new beats, new noises, yet simultaneously gliding through the mixing process. It was absolutely seamless, a story almost, as if him and us were going on a journey together. A techno journey, one that consisted of randomised beeps and bleeps, all put together in an non-randomised fashion. Everything merged so well that it’s nearly impossible to recall individual tracks, but Johannes Volk’s ‘Dont Be Afraid, There’s No Hope’ was an absolute blinder. It felt like an odyssey, a merging musical odyssey of sounds and snares, that was completely riveting. Like watching the best film you’ve ever seen at the cinema, but instead of being glued to your seat, your ears control the fervent tapping of your feet.
As is always the case, the rave eventually has to come to an end. Leaving Motion, we felt a sense of completeness, as if we’d ticked something major off the list. Not just in relation to seeing Jeff Mills for the first time, but because of the atmosphere. This was an event for music lovers, and the crowd completely showed this. That tech house type, the Moncler polo wearing, Prada sunglasses gang, weren’t to be seen; the posers, the fake fans who go just to update social media, weren’t to be seen. There was a wavelength that everyone was on, one that was simply to enjoy the tunes, and to celebrate what Bristol has to offer.
Well played Motion, well played indeed.
Hear all the sets from the Monolithic area here, an installation of 5376 LED lights, featuring ambient mixes from Axel Boman, Octo Octa and Tobias, courtesy of Crack Magazine.