Photo: Andrew Attah
Let’s book Andy C…
It’s the stuff sesh daydreams are made of. Even if you’re a promoter of many years and worked with some of the biggest pioneers of the genre, booking a DJ who can fill Wembley Arena and make websites crash when he announces a residency is a bucket list booking, a seemingly impossible pie in the party sky, a spend-your-life-savings-and-tell-your-grandkids moment in your career.
Then you watch the XOYO videos and see how much Andy C loves the smaller intimate shows and no matter how big he gets, he’s never lost his passion for that underground edge. You call his agent and you realise it is actually possible. You set the rules; no guestlist, no VIPS, we’re all in this together. You rally up every local raver in a 50 mile radius and you call up Drum&BassArena to see if they’re up for telling your story.
This is Baz’s story. The man behind Shrewsbury’s Perception parties, a brand that he’s built up from small sessions in a local boozer over the last seven years. He’s worked with some of the most respected names in drum & bass (and once even booked Marcus for an Intalex and Trevino set on the same night) he’s passionate about supporting regional promoters across the country and he’s got Andy and Tonn Piper playing a three hour set in his hometown club The Buttermarket on April 26. This is how it happened…
You’ve been promoting for a while haven’t you?
Yeah we’ve been doing Perception for about six or seven years. I’ve been promoting for over 10 though. Techno nights originally.
When you got in touch you described this as a ‘once in a lifetime booking’…
It is, really. I’ve been building towards this all along. We started in a pub and things got busier slowly but surely. Then you get a bigger venue and you book some legends like Fabio or Grooverider, then you book a Goldie. I’ve just had a wicked party with Roni Size. I want to work with the pioneers of this music, who wouldn’t? Booking Andy now, while he’s on the top of his game even more than he has been before, is a new peak. We’ve got a killer venue for it, it’s all ready and waiting for him.
The Buttermarket is a pretty legendary club
Yeah it was pretty big back in the 90s. There was a night called Planet Of The Breaks which a lot of the big guys played at. It’s had a refurbishment and been completely updated with killer Funktion One sound and it’s a great space.
Is it big enough in terms of you making your money back as a promoter?
We can make it work. I’m not making a profit here. I don’t plan to. This is my hobby. It’s an expensive one, I’ll give you that… But breaking even and putting on a wicked party is all I care about.
YES. You’re a responsible promoter… You need the party to be wicked.
For everyone involved; the ravers and for the artists. I don’t want to invite any DJ up here for a shit show. I want to show them Shrewsbury knows how to have a proper rave. That we’re just as important as any club in the bigger cities.
How long have you been planning this?
For a while man. I’d spoken to a few people and they were like ‘are you mad? He’s way too big for that type of booking!’ But I know Andy loves a proper underground club and… Well, you’ve got to have a go haven’t you? I think the back end of last year I approached his agent to see what was possible. We chatted for a bit and booked it in. I think the fact I’ve got a good history has helped, they knew I wasn’t a prick or a timewaster. So yeah it was easier than I thought it would be.
Andy loves those types of venues. Look at XOYO…
Yeah exactly and that’s been brilliant seeing him bring things back to the small intimate venues even when he’s at the level he is. He can fill Wembley Arena but he’s still supporting the smaller venues. You don’t see that very often.
You don’t see it at all. In other genres, once a DJ gets to that level, they kinda stay at that size venue, by and large.
I take my hat off to him. It’s a really exciting booking and basically if it doesn’t work then I haven’t promoted it properly.
Amen. Big up the Shrewsbury raving community please…
We’ve had a renowned raving contingent since the early days but a lot of people would travel to the likes of Shelleys and Pandemonium or any number of clubs in the midlands. We’re so close to the bigger cities that I think Shrewsbury took a hit because of that. But we’ve had a lot of people pass through. Andy’s played the Buttermarket a few times over the years and back in the 90s.
Who else has passed through your Perception nights?
I wanted to keep the tradition going. There had always been a good crew doing things here. Planet Of The Breaks were on it for many years. Then you had Subsoundz, which had a good phase, but it all dropped off in the 2000s and we ended up with nothing. Some clubs closed. A lot of guys gave up. I’d gravitated towards techno but had always been a drum & bass raver. I wasn’t happy about the fact Shrewsbury didn’t have a drum & bass night. Two of my best mates are drum & bass DJs so I gave them something to do and made them my residents and started off in a little pub to keep the fire burning and built it up from there. It’s working; some new promoters have come in as well and I don’t see them as competition. We’re all on the same page. I can do this Andy C night then have a rest until winter and know there’s still drum & bass happening in the town.
Tell us about your residents
DJ Conspire and DJ Jay Dubz. They’re both amazing and the night would be nothing without them. They’ve played at every night and I hope they play every night in the future. I’m from the 90s, I still appreciate the importance of a resident who knows the crowd and gets them really buzzed up. Just like Andy at XOYO. And the thing is, the crowd here have always loved the music so having good residents and a crowd who love it work perfectly. When done right and everyone’s behind it, drum & bass is always a lot busier than the underground techno night’s I’ve done.
Who’ve you booked in a techno capacity?
Darren Emerson (ex Underworld), Phil Kieran, Rebekah, Dubspeeka (ex Kosheen), Dave Angel. Some big names mixed in with a lot of homegrown talent but always on a smaller scale than the drum & bass shows.
Give me some legendary memories
Marcus Intalex was a very special one. He was the first drum & bass DJ I booked because I was such a big fan and wanted to bring that sound to Shrewsbury. I booked him five times, everyone loved him. The first night I booked him was before I started the Perception brand. I wanted to do a little special night and booked Marcus with Tango and Ratty. That was back in 2008 at the Buttermarket before it closed, a good few years before I started off again small in the pub. But one of my favourite nights with him was when he did a Marcus set in one room and a Trevino set in the back room. It was him and LSB in the main room and he came through to the back room and did a special Trevino set. It was really special, I’d been eager to get a Trevino set for a while because I love that techno sound. That was such an honour. Especially in hindsight. He’s sorely missed.
He really is. Give me some more legendary tales….
Where do I start? In 2014 I booked Calibre for one of his most intimate shows ever in a place called The Vaults for 150 people. I could have retired after this gig knowing that I had achieved promotional gold status getting the elusive Calibre to town! One of the best gigs at The Vaults and Calibre really enjoyed it. The year before that, I managed to get hold of Grooverider and asked if he would like to come and play an old school set because I’ve always loved him and didn’t think he would be down for a set of the normal style of the night. He said “if it’s a liquid night I’ll play a liquid set for you” and he came and smashed a cracking liquid set out! Another absolute gent of the scene… I’ve booked so many. Lenzman, who was my first international booking. The main man Randall, of course. dBridge, Alix Perez, Skeptical, LTJ Bukem. You name them, I’ve invited them up here and they’ve all had a great night. Marcus even shouted us in this Resident Advisor interview. A small claim to fame of mine haha.
You mentioned you might take some time off after the Andy C booking?
Yeah I like to keep things special. There’s no point in going crazy and competing with each other, that’s what kills local scenes. We’ve got a responsibility, like we said before.
I saw that on the event page… No guestlist, no VIPs, everyone pays, we all dance as one. That’s how you make nights like that happen!
I really think so. I’ve had to play by more normal promoter rules this time and do first / second / third release tickets which I usually hate doing. I’ve had to play the hype game a bit more. Usually we try and avoid that so there’s no hype, no bullshit and you don’t have to buy a ticket in advance, pay on the door so we don’t waste money on booking fees. But we have to play the game a bit differently. And if I don’t sell it out, I haven’t done my job…
What else can I do? Sit on my laurels and rebook the same DJs? Nope! I don’t even know where I found this massive pair of bollocks, but I’ve got them from somewhere and managed to book The Executioner! This is the absolute pinnacle for me; building up from 50 people in a pub to booking the world’s undisputed number one drum & bass DJ at the peak of his career!
This is the whole reason I got in touch with you; not just to highlight my night but give a shout out to all the small town promoters out there. They are the backbone of the UK drum and bass scene, all adding their own little journeys to the story of drum and bass. The scene has really started kicking on again in Shrewsbury with more promoters chipping in and easing the burden. I also want to give my deepest heartfelt thanks to all the people that have been a part of and made Perception what it is from both sides of the dancefloor. You all know who you are and how you have contributed to our story. Props to my residents DJ Conspire and Jay Dubz who never miss a gig and give all their time and help for the love of the music, which is why we all do what we do! I can also exclusively reveal to your readers that the next event on November 1 will be a Planet V Presents Future tour night with Dillinja, Bryan Gee and Think Tonk.