Bicep @ SWG3, 3 Feb
Andy Ferguson and Matt McBriar, aka Bicep, head a stellar line-up at SWG3 in Glasgow
Sold out weeks prior, tonight's mammoth Feel My Bicep event has a queue of eager night owls snaking down the block, with last entry at the early hour of 11pm to accomodate the packed lineup. Once inside, it's all action from the get-go. NYC-based selector and Beats In Space label head Tim Sweeney provides a pre-midnight soundtrack in the TV Studio with mellow house grooves and calypso flourishes, easing revellers into the long night ahead.
Bouncing upstairs to the Warehouse at 11pm, veteran DJ Jane Fitz is spinning a more vintage techno vibe. Throwing out galloping beats interspersed with vocal samples and a touch of acid and industrial heft, her selections coax the eager crowd even closer. Sitting at a carefully-chosen BPM that agrees with the early hour and the mood of the room, Fitz shows off her technical skill with seamless vinyl transitions. Eclectic selections – such as Goldffinch's warm, bubbling Quadrichromie – hint at her diverse record collection, and digging into a jungle vibe in her final minutes, the crowd whoop with approval.
Over in the intimate, disco-lit surrounds of The Poetry Club, Hammer does a peerless job of taking a heaving room past the midnight hour. Easily one of the most vivacious sets of the night, Nathan Fake's The Sky Was Pink is subtly fed into the mix, and when the beat drops the feeling of respect and admiration for an absolute classic is rampant, with one of the biggest collective rejoices of the night. Heavy, the clanging banger from The Golden Filter, is similarly well received, and with 15 minutes left to go, Daniel Avery's Naive Response is a slick closing selection.
You'd be forgiven for needing a breather at this point, but Job Jobse is whipping up energy and keeping spirits high in the TV Studio with an ever-so-slightly trancey, retro feel, a thematic tone that underpins most of the acts tonight. It's a high BPM workout through another set mixed with finesse and a real ear for what the crowd (and the hour) calls for.
Twenty minutes into their headline slot, the Northern Irish juggernaut that is Bicep are setting a delirious pace, dipping in and out of quintessential techno beats that the preceding acts have been laying the foundations for. Cheekily testing the limits of their rapturous audience, they punctuate a pattern of thumping beats and a bold light show with the infectious synthline of Hans Bouffmyhre's The Confession. It's a sign of how hard Bicep can dig that such a bold track functions as a welcome interlude that allows us to draw breath, before again leaning on the tempo in ever-increasing fashion.
Bicep's bustling, hard-edged, multi-layered beats are irresistibly danceable. With half an hour go left to go, they strip back to a more melodic vibe; still with that ever-present thumping Bicep beat, but softened by light-hearted keys and upbeat melodies. Expertly traversing the thin line between house and techno, Mr G's Nipple Clamp is a cause for 'here we fuckin' go', the Glasgow seal of approval, and all too suddenly we're blinking into the lights and navigating the plastic-cup strewn aftermath, our eardrums still enslaved by Bicep's greatness.