Benji B’s Deviation residency at XOYO sees a spate of big names play in the club’s basement over the second quarter of the year, including the likes of Todd Edwards, Skepta, Sampha, Lil Silva, Zomby, Mark Ronson and Gilles Peterson.
Last weekend’s show – featuring Four Tet and Floating Points – was perhaps the most heavily anticipated show of the residency. It marked the first time Four Tet and Floating Points had played together since the emotional closure of London’s legendary basement club, Plastic People, at the start of the year. Both DJs were regulars at the nightspot, in front of the decks as well as behind them, and Four Tet even named a song after the club.
Their final mix for Plastic People, entitled the ‘Last Dance’, featured a beautiful blend of afrobeat, 1990s house, hip hop and myriad other genres that you’d never think could coexist in a single mix. Resident Benji B and Abdul Forsyth, the founder and owner of Plastic People, were also playing.
Floating Points, who played back to back with Four Tet, was equipped with the special rotary mixer he helped design himself. He dropped an eclectic mix of northern soul, mo-town, Soca and Latin music. One of the highlights included the spacey 1970s trip hop track ‘Don’t You Know’ by the Jan Hammer Group, which we also had as this week’s Heard on the Floor piece.
Four Tet, who was out with his mum two weeks before selling some of his old records at an independent record fair in Spitalfields Market, clearly kept some of his favourite jams back to play tonight. As well as some heavy hitting techno, we heard soul classics including Connie Laverne’s ‘Can’t Live Without You’.
Abdul Forsyth, who had flown in from Nigeria especially for the show, played a first-rate set. All bases were covered, from the smooth jazz of Pharoah Sanders to vintage disco in the form of ‘Dance Dance Dance‘ by Marta Acuna.
A group of DJs that are renowned for digging deep into the crates guarantees a stellar and varied song selection, and tonight was no different. But you couldn’t help wondering whether XOYO would be able to capture the magic of Plastic People, being able to sense the different musical nuances as you venture around the small dark basement, with speakers forming each of the four walls, almost closing in on you. And that whole absence of people losing so much control that they’re not actually enjoying themselves any more.
Even though the venue had the near impossible job of living up to Plastic People, it didn’t stop this night being one of biggest dates in the clubbing calendar. The music was memorable, varied and unpredictable. The next XOYO resident will have a very hard time trying to out-do Deviation.