For Birmingham students with an ear of an electro leaning and feet with two-stepping tendencies, Digbeth is your Broad Street, and Broad Street is your hell. In recent months, Digbeth has come blinking back into the UK music scene, ready once again to assert itself as life and soul of the party. With new venues, increasingly popular nights such as Seedy Sonics (ruining students one bassline at a time) and increasingly bigger bookings like Zed Bias and Booka Shade, Digbeth is dancing on the ashes of its industrial past.
Heralding in this new age of ‘Brum cool’ is the new Gibb Street Warehouse; only a month old and already boasting the likes of David August and 2manydjs, Gibb Streets’ early bookings read like the little black book of cool. Digbeth has to fight quite a battle in Birmingham, and underground or lesser known music is quite often sidelined to bigger names or cheaper drinks. Gibb Street seems set to take on this battle where Custard Factory left off, joining the ranks of Rainbow, Lab 11 and Air. Hiding in the disused railway arches, Gibb Street is set to a background of street art, unused buildings and atmospheric lighting. Suitably hyped by the beat seeping through the walls, you enter by crossing the back-lit blue bridge over the canal into the warehouse; imagine a new-age draw bridge – it’s quite the entrance. Gibb Street uses the space of our good friend the Custard Factory, but has put a new stamp on it with plastic chandeliers and streaming fabric. It describes itself as ‘Acid House’ meets ‘state-of-the-art’ and I would say that’s about just about right, but much less scary than it sounds.
And who better to draw the ever hesitant students from their Sainsbury’s Basics Vodka than the brilliant Kissy Sell Out? This is that man that Mixmag described perfectly as ‘one of the most exciting, charismatic and entertaining DJs of the decade’ and the very same man that tries to teach Stephen Fry to DJ (it’s on YouTube, and it’s brilliant). With support from Doorly (unfairly known for his ‘Bonkers’ remix) and Don Diablo, the line up last Friday would have fitted in perfectly at any dance festival worth its glowsticks. As if Gibb Street weren’t treating us enough, they wrap it up with free entry and a free shot.
Valiant support from Don Diablo and Doorly paved the way for Kissy Sell Out’s characteristically energetic set. From ‘Youth’ to the Kissy Klub, from Radio 1 to Ibiza veteran, from remixing to original tracks, Kissy is a DJ of many trades. He never fails to infuse a crowd with a sense of euphoria, getting you to dance on a higher plane; self-conscious dancing awkwardly bops itself out the room while the two-step takes to the floor. It is the mark of a good DJ to be so seamless and so compelling that you forget to care which song is playing and whether you know it because you have been thrown so fully into the current of his set. Swept along through the dubstep highs to the electro waves via tracks that you would never think would work, Kissy is truly a showman and knows just how to work his crowds. Not a huge dubstep fan myself, pigeonholing Kissy as dubstep seems narrow and misguiding. Kissy Sell Out makes the party-playlists that us non-DJs can only dream of.
The best thing about the night wasn’t the free entry, the free shot, the new venue or the world class DJ, each of which would usually mean a good night. It was the atmosphere that made the night quite so exciting. It was a feeling of being somewhere fresh and alive, being in the epicentre of new ‘Brum cool’. It was the party vibes, crossed with the warehouse edge that takes Gibb Street and Digbeth as a whole and raises it to the next level. If Gibb Street has started as it means to go on, Birmingham is in for some legendary nights to come. It feels set to repetitive beat its way onto the scene, and steal the drinks of other cities music scenes. Digbeth works in another time zone (get there about 1am, and don’t expect to get home before sunrise). This is a party I want to be in on.
Words by Laura Harris