Live Review: Just Jack’s Halloween Freak Boutique


As many lay picking up the pieces from Halloween – gathering up cans in houses now decorated with the sweet scents of spilt Fosters or huddled up on sofas praying for a cure to the hangover sent by Beelzebub himself – over 2000 of Bristol’s more committed dancers set about the pilgrimage to Motion to indulge in Just Jack’s annual treat.

For most, the queue to a club is purgatory itself, a slow incessant shuffle full of drunken small talk and rizzla thieves. Somehow despite being the biggest queue this writer has ever seen for a Motion night, it was a joy to behold, 100m of wit and creativity. A full team of Ghostbusters, dead Geishas, questionable Ebola victims and Slipknot-masked clowns huddled together for warmth.

Finally in, it wasn’t hard to follow the kickdrums straight into the second warehouse to see Delano Smith winning over everyone with a stormer of a set that managed to weave in a fair bit of soul amongst the heavy 4/4s. First impressions were given an almighty boost by the bamboo umbrellas floating above the crowd, as well as the circus acts dancing around Smith like some wonderful hedonistic Zippos afterparty.

Next it was into the main room for headliner Âme, coming in strong with an analogue mixer the size of a small house. Used to its full effect by Kristian, he took the crowd on a whirlwind trip through countless peaks and troughs of the Innervision sound that has become firmly rooted in UK clubs.

Paranoid London at least managed to outdo Âme on the hardware set up, bringing half a studio with them to delight and terrify a crowd with their wonderfully brutal analogue acid house. By the end, either the harsh 303s or the draw of Âme meant it wasn’t to hard to get to the bar for a beer, but the energy in that room for those that witnessed it was like being caught in a thunderstorm scored by Phuture. It served up a perfect example for acid house’s resurgence at the moment.

With a bill like this, trips to the smoking area were shorter than Formula 1 pitstops, with a long detour taken into the Tunnel, where Jay Daniel had the walls shaking as he showed Bristol that the US still knows how to make house that kicks. A tough act to follow, but John Barera made it hard for people to leave, peppering his set with some favourites from his debut LP on Steffi’s Dolly imprint.

Aside from the music, Colonel Wrongface had plenty more tricks up his sleeve that made it a little bit more than your usual night in the skatepark. The apocalyptic decorations, the Alice-in-Wonderland dancers holding a fair few gazes, and the brilliantly unqualified ‘Mystic Greg’ reading palms and passing on the afterparty details. It’s a shame that so much of the crowd were paying more attention to their phones than the visual wonders around them, because Just Jack’s production effort was outstanding.

Back under the bamboo umbrellas, Head High had the second warehouse heaving once again, with fists pumping in the air to his injection of classic hardcore amidst his own deranged style, but still keeping a bit lighter than his Shed side.

Before the night was over, Mano Le Tough took a thinning main room by the cajones and made it his. Pushing the remaining troops into submission with a last ditch barrage of Berlin techno, he had the brave stomping around and enjoying the new found space to throw shapes.

As more and more club nights pop up around the country, its great to see the old guard still know how to lead from the front and show everyone that there’s more than just big DJs and venues to throwing a killer party.

 Photo credit: Theo Cottle

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