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Review: Tribal Sessions at Sankeys, 16th July

An essential party to visit in Ibiza

Last night was a very special night in Sankeys' calendar this year as Shlomi Aber, Greg Vickers and Just Be (formerly Bushwacka) stepped up to deliver their live BBC Radio 1 Essential Mixes to a packed Basement.

Pete Tong's Essential Mix has become something of an institution in the world of electronic music since its conception in 1993. It gives both rising stars and established artists the opportunity to showcase their favourite tracks, classics and compositions that are at the forefront of modern electronic music production, and more often than not DJs pull out all stops when they get the opportunity to become a part of it. After three years spent using various Essential Mixes to get me through long, drawn-out library sessions at university I couldn't wait to finally get a chance to see the latest instalments in the series unravel before my eyes and ears.

Walking into the Basement just after 1am, it was easy to get sucked into the lively atmosphere as Shlomi Aber kicked things off with a thumping, percussion-heavy set that had no trouble winning over the early arrivals to the club. Sankeys Owner David Vincent seized the opportunity in the middle of a breakdown to take to the mic and introduce Aber 10 minutes into his set. You know it's a big night when a club owner speaks to the crowd and it showed that the club's staff were just as hyped for the party as the dance floor was – the barriers had truly been lifted and the party spirit very quickly went from contagious to an all out epidemic. Dungeon Meat's The Fuck Off Track got the crowd moving like no other throughout the set and demonstrated Aber's ability to gauge exactly what the Tribal fans want to hear.

Taking a break from the primal sounds that the Basement had to offer, we headed to the Lab to check out the mixing skills of New York based house music luminary and Balearic favourite Danny Tenaglia. Though considerably more spacious than the main room, everybody in the Lab was dancing and given the more widely available room to move, serious shapes were being thrown. Tengalia's track selection and mixing were considerably more melodic than other acts I've seen recently at Tribal Sessions, but no less powerful. The mood and décor of the room suited the sounds of Tenaglia perfectly, given that the Lab was designed to look like Manchester's famous Hacienda. Much of the music that was played had a distinct nineties vibe that combined with the atmosphere of the room to feel like a contemporary tribute to an important piece of clubbing history. Many of the older ravers you see will tell you that the glory days of clubbing are over but if you're going to challenge that opinion, your best chance is in the Lab.

After our mid-evening trip back to the nineties, the time had come to return to the basement for part two of the Essential Mix in the form of Greg Vickers b2b with Just Be. Both DJs are no strangers to Pete Tong's mix series (Vickers having previously done two and Just Be having done no less than eight under his ‘Bushwacka' alias), so the club was in safe hands. It's not uncommon to hear back-to-back mixes that seemingly have no sense of direction but Vickers and Just Be were quite the opposite; the musical chemistry between the duo was clear for everyone in the room to hear and, considering it's only the second time they've played together, was quite an achievement. David Vincent was leading the masses in bouncing uncontrollably to the seamless mixing that was unfolding before the largely British crowd. One of my personal highlights was a track that sampled Alicia Keys' P.O.W from the Def Poetry Jam series. The first time I heard it sampled was in Huxley's hit Box Clever (a track I still love), yet Just Be's version may have equalled it in quality. Moments of restraint in the mix were few and far between as both DJs opted for more in-your-face tracks that blew the roof off for the full 120 minutes. One track I fell in love with was DJ Foxx & Wyatt Earp's Soul Penetration, an eerie number that throws more focus on the bass than any other element but sounds like magic when it's blasted through Sankeys' VOID sound-system. I can see myself having this one on repeat for quite a while now and the same goes for the Essential Mix too once it's been broadcast.

Tribal Sessions has built up quite a following already this season and judging by last night it's no wonder. So far Vincent and Darius Syrossian have served up DJs as prolific as Todd Terry and DJ Sneak among many others, yet there really is no peak in the party's calendar. That being said, last night was the fourth time I've been to Tribal this year and the best one I've been to so far. When everything comes together for a party like Tribal Sessions (great music, great crowd, great atmosphere), you wouldn't want to spend your Wednesday night anywhere else.

WORDS | Janson Goldberg PHOTO | James Chapman

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