For a city with such musical pedigree as London, it’s amazing how long it took Mister Sunday to visit the Big Smoke.
For the uneducated, Mister Sunday is the sister party to the famous Mister Saturday Night event, a staple Brooklyn party run by Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin. They’re just two dudes who know their stuff inside-out, back-to-front, up-the-wazoo when it comes to throwing a good party. For an idea of their musical philosophy, a recent selection for The Guardian provides a good way in. We were lucky enough to be in attendance for a Mister Sunday in Brooklyn last August, and it was magical. An eight-hour, cross-genre journey tied together by artistic mixing and such perfect song selection that it demonstrated just how willingly enslaved Justin and Eamon are to their audience’s wants and needs.
So we thought we knew what to expect, but east London’s Mister Sunday was nothing like Brooklyn’s. With over 3000 miles between the two, should that have been a surprise? Whereas the Brooklyn party was tucked away in a twee little yard lit by fairy-lights in the trees, the Oval Space is one cavernous room overlooking gas reservoirs in Bethnal Green. You see, as the Mister Rules demonstrate, the Mister boys aren’t just DJs putting together a set, they’re party architects, creating a distinct atmosphere with the music they play. A different crowd and different surroundings naturally begged for a different musical approach.
When we first arrived mid afternoon, it all seemed a bit muted. There were our circus masters, doing their thing behind the decks, but the volume was pretty low and people were sort of milling about to a smooth house backdrop. To the uninitiated (and in this case, untravelled), this would have been rather anti-climactic. But it was all a clever and most deliberate tactic to create a musical accompaniment that fitted the situation.
Come seven o’clock though, the setting sun flooded through the floor-to-ceiling, west-facing windows and bathed the dance floor in a warm orange glow. It was a signal that nightfall was coming and then things really kicked off. The speakers were amped up, and Justin and Eamon urged the crowd to get moving, mixing more obscure tracks – the trophies of a crate-digger – with a few fan favourites. And what pulls in a house-loving audience more than Omar S – Shit Baby at the moment? Finally we knew where we were. Drinks were raised in toast and the dance floor swelled with smokers coaxed from outside.
The Mister Sunday we’d been to in Brooklyn played out thusly: techno, house, anything with a deep base for a good few hours, but then it gave way to crowd pleasers. Nothing cheesy mind you, but a mix of hip-hop, house and even some Gorillaz. Not so for us hardcore Londoners. Justin and Eamon saw the crowd were loving the deeper cuts and obliged willingly, interspersing a steady heaviness with funkier grooves for a change of pace, but otherwise steering the Good Ship Party on a deep course right until the end of the night.
What was obvious from this day party was that these American boys know far more than you about music. It’s a total, life-defining obsession for them to keep searching for ‘that’ song: the rare one that isn’t rare for rarity’s sake but aims (and definitely succeeds) to feel familiar and natural whether you’ve heard it before or not. Even for techno-phobes and the less serious dance pilgrims among us, everything they played was so accessible. No matter what Eamon and Justin throw together in a mix, it invariably just works.
So one minute you’re entranced by the driving pulse of Unknown – Untitled (Wax 10001). Then, before you know it, you’ve donned a pair of flared trousers for some Todd Terje, while you wave your beer obnoxiously in the face of the person next, wearing an inane grin that says “bloody hell, this is good isn’t it!” That’s how the night went: at the drop of a hat you go from trying to follow your left foot with your right knee in the vain hope of looking as funky as the baseline, to being happy just standing and swaying in ecstasy.
Be warned though, these parties will ruin your Monday at work. One anonymous stamper enjoyed himself so much that he was still celebrating on the way home at midnight, eating chicken wings off the tube carriage floor. Shameless drunken act or desperate attempt to fuel dance-weary legs? We’ll let you be the judge.
Right now, Black Atlantic are at the forefront of bringing the best music and DJs to our city. Their Mister Sunday import followed hot on the heels of another incredible evening, where Koreless and Jacques Green blew our minds a couple of weeks ago. The next incoming production is with Levon Vincent, Anthony Naples and Galcher Lustwerk, and you’d be daft to miss it. And to Justin and Eamon, if you’re reading this… thank you. Thank you so much.