It's not often one hears Sisqo's "Thong Song" as part of a great night in a club, but Space Dimension Controller is exactly the type of guy to make it happen. (This is, after all, someone who opened a set at Panorama Bar with Phil Collins' epic "In the Air Tonight.") That said, there was nothing comical about the way he opened proceedings in the Stiff Kitten in Belfast recently. Sounding as comfortable as you'd expect a man to be in his home town, kicking off a night he organized, Jack Hamill moved confidently through the gears from functional warm-up techno to the by-now-requisite upper of Todd Terje's "Inspector Norse."
As a first time visitor to the Stiff Kitten, one of the most immediately striking aspects of the place is the quality of sound in the room. The bass was not punishingly loud but deep and strong, mids were detailed and the high-end was crystal clear, never feeling harsh or tiring. It may seem somewhat trivial but the smooth, deep sound made standing front and centre for three hours far less fatiguing than it is in most clubs in Ireland. The sparse, early crowd gradually expanded throughout Hamill's set, and by the time Ben UFO and Pearson Sound took to the decks, they were both numerous and well warmed up.
The two hours of back-to-back mixing that followed was energetic, vibrant and overwhelmingly fun. They varied enough to make every change surprising in the best way, flowing instinctively between the off-beat kicks and hats Hessle Audio have made their name upon and the four-to-the-floor intensity of newer tracks like Joy O and Boddika's "Mercy." The appearance of Pearson Sound's own "Grab Somebody" was one of the night's true highlights.
SDC returned to the decks shortly before the end to drop a slowed version of the aforementioned "Thong Song" before Ben UFO closed out the night at the unfortunately early hour of 2 AM. Northern Ireland's early closing times are a bone of contention for locals and, on this occasion, they undoubtedly played some role in the tone of the night. But with music as fun and as spirited as the stuff selected by three young men riding a wave of positive energy, the crowd had no problem making the most of their limited time in the club.