Sam Gellaitry @ Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh, 10 May

Live Review by George Sully | 17 May 2017

Witness – the midweek party-in-a-box at Sneaky Pete’s – continues the venue’s propensity to book big acts in small spaces by bringing in Stirling lad Sam Gellaitry. Though he’s still relatively unknown at home, this summer tour is on the heels of big things Stateside (e.g. supporting DJ Shadow) – an impressive rap sheet for a producer so young. But Sneaky’s knows how to make guests feel welcome: local Unstable Creator Martin Sweeny has built a mini-install of blocks akin to a Roman numeral 3 (a nod to Gellaitry’s latest EP Escapism III), to feature his trademark projection-mapped animations alongside the boys at the decks.

Residents Ross Witness and Fault Lines lay the groundwork for our headliner, serving up angular, hyperactive r'n'b remixes and mutant dancehall, drawing the growing crowd into the dark and strobing dancefloor. With effortlessly tight transitions and the kind of metallic, bass-heavy selections that’ll define the rest of the night, energy is high and we’re primed for more.

Gellaitry builds on the distractible, genre-spanning beats of the Witness crew, taking us to some shimmery, spring-loaded highlights of his Escapism EP series via bangers like DJ Luck & MC Neat’s 1999 garage hit Little Bit of Luck and T2’s iconic Heartbroken. With a tendency to make tracks flavoured with strings, sitar and synthesisers that sparkle, his own plucky tunes stand out among his otherwise inventive selections (a steroidal remix of Yeah! by Usher sends bodies flying, as does Teriyaki Boyz’ unhinged Tokyo Drift).

But it’s all underpinned by the sort of bass you feel in your ankles; TNGHT’s glass-crushing face-punch Easy Easy and Rustie’s prismatic City Star prove that this XL signee can go toe-to-toe with the LuckyMe brood – especially with his own atomic hit Long Distance getting the dopest response of the night.

The pacing, then, swings from his twinkling cinematics – pensive amid the carnage – to firecracker beats and choice hip-hop (Young Thug’s 420 anthem Stoner, or Roshi by JD. Reid). It seems erratic at first, but it’s just a rigged explosive with multiple fuses – allowing Gellaitry to reignite the Sneaky’s hurt locker over and over again.