Few artists have managed to put their stamp on dance music quite like Loco Dice has in recent years. As a DJ, Dice's era-defining sets at DC-10 have set the musical agenda for Ibiza and beyond for the last five years whilst his productions with Martin Buttrich have helped shape and, more recently, break the minimal house rulebook. It should come as no surprise then that the announcement of Loco Dice's Under 300 tour, a series of relatively tiny gigs to be held across Europe, was met with the kind of anticipation usually reserved for sequined gloved pop legends.
Giving Joe Public the chance to experience Dice in the kind of proximity usually reserved for clandestine villa parties or secretive Berlin afterhours meant that tickets for the London leg of the gig sold out almost instantly. Internet rumours quickly turned to consensus that the "secret event" would be held in the familiar surroundings of the recently closed T-Bar. However, the promoters were holding an ace up their sleeve as the news filtered out that the venue would be a mysterious Warehouse in Dalston—an area geographically close to the newly scrubbed-up Shoreditch, but miles away in the urban renewal stakes.
From the Warehouse's exterior—which was inner-city decay epitomised—to the peeling paint and graffiti-strewn walls of the interior, the venue gave off a general vibe of illegality. Despite this, the night ran as smoothly as any I have witnessed in London. The bar was well-stocked and easily accessed, the security were efficient and the sound—taken care of by a particularly hefty Funktion One rig—was perfect. The crowd were something special as well, one that was completely at odds with the cynical, ketamine-addled fashion victims that stereotypically inhabit East London techno haunts. The 300 or so people that packed into the venue remained grinning from ear to ear throughout, showing a willingness to go with the DJs in a way that I have rarely witnessed in the UK.
Removed from the pressure of playing in front of a huge audience Dice was free to indulge his every whim, taking the vibe from snake-hipped samba rhythms to locomotive house beats and everything in between. At its best, this allowed Dice to thrust in an a cappella from New York rapper Redman over an extended breakdown, giving the man a rare chance to show his hip-hop roots. As Loco Dice ended his set with his own "El Galle Negro" and lit up a sparkler (of all things) to show his appreciation, you couldn't help but think that more events of this nature are exactly the medicine London needs to shake off its recent club closure hangover. The Loco Dice Under 300 tour not only managed to meet the huge expectations put upon it; it thoroughly exceeded them.