For many record labels, building up a trusted brand is now as important as shifting units. Just how big a brand Numbers has become was evident when their London warehouse party sold out before announcing any DJs. A huge part of the anticipation seemed to be the mammoth lineup the Scottish label had amassed at last year's party, with Hudson Mohawke, Jamie XX and (obviously) Jackmaster all featuring.
The eventual location for this year's party was Bethnal Green's Oval Space, perhaps lacking some of the irresistible dinginess of a south London car park, but mercifully boasting better facilities and sound. Only on entering the venue was the night's entertainment confirmed: Oneman, Rustie, Deadboy, Redinho and Loefah joined Glasgow stalwarts Spencer and Jackmaster. Upon crossing the threshold one thing became clear: this was going to be a night of very big (and very silly) tunes. Nobody on the bill had any intention of warming up the crowd. Spencer playfully mixed Andrés' "New for U" with DJ Assassin's "A Face in the Crowd," alongside joyful '90s house and Moodymann's remix of Rick Wilhite's "Drum Patterns & Memories." It was very much a case of "go big or go home."
There was a mass sing-a-long (and rewind) to So Solid Crew's "Oh No That's the Word"; a rapturous reception to 's 187 Lockdown's "Gunman"; a rewind for Mosca's "Bax"; and more than one bleary-eyed glimmer of "Midnight Request Line." Add to that an innumerable number of speed garage tracks, Cheshire cat grins, rude girls in hi-tops and East 17-style bobble caps, and you had a night where people were doing the "Gangnam Style" dance while Jackmaster dropped Wiley's "Ice Rink."
Perhaps one of the highlights of the night was Redhino. Taking to the stage in a cosy looking tweed blazer, he flew through an impressive and surprising live PA. Brandishing a keytar and talk box, he sounded something like a white Roger Troutman, or both of Chromeo rolled into one. Rustie was another highlight, bringing happy hardcore (yes) and a seemingly endless, thundering mix of "Higher Ground." Jackmaster followed with his inimitable blend of relentless party tunes, uncompromising techno and (best of all) the unexpected. The ecstatic crescendo of The Streets "Turn the Page" brought hands to the air, and an inspired 4 AM Prince tune, "Let's Go Crazy," had even the most reluctant dancers giving it their best shot. In quick succession followed a grime megamix that wouldn't have been out of place in a Romford nightclub circa-1999, and Drake's "Headlines." This is what Jackmaster does so very well: dropping the tunes you never thought you wanted to hear and making them work.
Any event that can sell out using the pitch "One room. 8 hours. Six secret guests. You know what to do" deserves to be taken notice of. The fact that the Numbers crew then delivered in spades proves they're still go-to guys for a proper party.