22/06/18, Joshua Brooks, Manchester
Ticket Price: £15
Back in April, still on a high from having Darius play at my event a couple of months earlier, I saw the guys at Boxed Music announce they had booked him to play all night long at Joshua Brooks in Manchester. In the words of Darius in the promo video they released, the venue was small, underground, and grimy with a “fierce” sound system, which was more than enough for me to book a hotel and set off for a night in Manchester…
I arrived at the venue around 30 minutes prior to the 10pm opening time to find a bar at street level with around 15 people in there, no sign of a nightclub what so ever. My confidence was soon restored though when I heard the soundcheck going on beneath my feet, shaking the tables in the bar above. Turns out the nightclub was down a couple of flights of stairs around the corner…
When Darius arrived, we went down said stairs to find a basement nightclub made entirely of exposed brickwork complete with stone pillars and arches running through it, and it was only very small – I would hazard a guess at the capacity being not much more than around 500 people. The only bit of variation from the bricks and mortar were the fire exit signs and a Boxed Music lightbox sign behind the DJ booth. I was hooked straight away! By this point the club was about to open and the queue was down the street outside, but quick and efficient security and venue staff enabled the customers to seamlessly enter the venue, and by 10:20pm the club was just about full and you could feel the buzz of excitement in the air.
The first hour or so of the 6 hour set was stripped back and minimal, similar to what you’d hear if you saw Archie Hamilton open up at Fuse or Joey Daniel open up Music On – plenty of vinyl among the selection as well as digital, setting the tone nicely in the club as the drinks started flowing. Moving beyond midnight is where night really came into its own; the VOID sound system lived up to its “fierce” reputation as the levels were turned up and the sound was resonating off the brick walls sounding so raw and loud, and the energy in the club was hitting fever pitch. By this point though, due to the club being at capacity and the fact the event was in the middle of summer, it was now getting pretty hot and stuffy inside. It never got too uncomfortable though, if anything I think it often adds to the experience, in the sense that everyone’s hair gets messy, everyone is sweaty and in the same boat and it becomes solely about the music – appearance goes out the window!
One part of the night that sticks in my head is when Darius played World In Motion by New Order towards the end of the night; with World Cup fever in full swing the entire club sang the words in unison, hands in the air and smiles beaming ear to ear! That moment was a reminder of why Boxed Music hit the nail on the head with this booking – Darius Syrossian is an artist who was built for long sets in loud, intimate venues. Don’t get me wrong, they could have booked him to play on a stage to 10,000 people at a festival and 10,000 people would have left happy, but give him an extended set in a venue like Joshua Brooks and you get a DJ that can work the crowd into a frenzied tribal mindset following their leader on a journey through all corners of House & Techno, leaving the venue sweaty, exhilarated and most importantly more musically educated than they were when they walked in.
Logistically, the event was coordinated brilliantly. This event sold out within hours of release, so the club was full to capacity but there was never any hassle getting to the bar or the toilets. The bar was at the back of the dancefloor and the toilets were up the other set of stairs, so the security had one staircase for leaving to go to the toilets, and then the other staircase for coming back down. This method meant there were never any bottlenecks or queues for the toilets which was impressive considering it was completely sold out.
To conclude, this edition of Boxed Music was one of the most enjoyable events I’ve attended in a long time. Ben and the team who I met on the night were very hospitable, the venue was incredible and the music was spot on. The only minor negative from the whole night was the heat, but that is largely unavoidable when you put on an event like this. Darius has been hinting on social media at regular intimate shows in Manchester starting in 2019, and if this was anything to go by, you don’t want to miss them.