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Review: VIVa Warriors at Sankeys, 28th July

They came, they saw, they conquered...

Anyone who debates the existence of the ‘Underground' house scene obviously hasn't spent a Sunday night at Sankeys. This sees Steve Lawler's takeover of this dark, stripped-back big club for his party VIVa Warriors, and each week the place is crammed with an army of house heads creating a new Sunday tradition. This week saw Steve Bug join Steve Lawler, Darius Syrossian, Santé and Detlef for a particularly busy one.

Santé's set was filled with drum rolls mixed with crackling old school vocals and thud-thudding bass. He stood true to the vision that he and his own musical imprint - Avotre - play by overlapping and mixing genres, playing tracks because of their ability to impact the crowd not because they're pigeon-holed into the ‘house and tech-house' bracket. He's also somewhat of a DJ's DJ, playing things that probably only people who are familiar with a set of decks themselves would recognise, for example playing the record label Little Helpers' release Number 63. All of this label's releases are numbered and are designed as tools for aspiring DJs, but are also strong enough to stand on their own as great tunes. Santé finished with a new faster dub-style mix of Noir and Haze's Around, which had the crowd jumping in the air shouting along.

The dreamy opening bars of Days Without You trickled through the crowd, letting everyone know it was Darius Syrossian's turn. Darius' set was being recorded for Radio One's Essential Mix, in line with Radio One Weekend coming up. He used this as a great opportunity to showcase his best tracks, his talent and his sounds as a whole, playing some older soulful tracks and also dropping his own tunes such as Who's the Douche? The screen behind him read ‘Make some Noise for Radio One!' and the crowd happily did what they were told. This season has seen great things from Darius, and he's definitely at the top of his game.

The Departure residents had the LAB pumping all night long as three of them played back to back. It's a very different vibe visually from the gloriously grimy style of the main room, and having this room open each week now gives people even more musical and visual variation.

Lawler's set was also being recorded for Radio One, and was as always a great mix of house and tech-house which flirted now and again with techno, full of rasping vocals and the sound of clanging metal. Someone initiated a sit down which spread instantly across a sea of people only too happy to oblige. Lawler also provided a great transition from Darius to the relentless, tough yet groovy sound of Steve Bug.

Once again VIVa Warriors was a raving success, embodying what in my eyes is the true sound of the underground house music scene and providing a no-frills, no-nonsense rave for everyone who attends.

Photography by Elliot Walsh

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