Having grown in reputation with considerable speed over the past year-and-a-half, Birmingham's FACE club night seems intent on offering a strong platform for underground house and techno in England's "second city." This is no surprise, as the team behind FACE have found themselves paired with the ideal space, Digbeth's Rainbow Pub. From the outside, the venue appears to simply be a fairly run-of-the-mill matte-black pub, but is in fact a compact three-room haven for Birmingham's music scene, situated a matter of minutes from the very heart of the city.
There's an undeniable, irresistible charm to this sort of venue, from the coloured glass windows to the dusty oddities dotted around its dark, pub/bar-room. Hosted by the gloriously energetic Hasslebaink DJs, no genre was left untouched as they swept through every decade with immaculate timing and selection, packing the "pub" area to the rafters. The Rainbow's main courtyard, bedecked with graffiti but sadly now without its characteristic retractable roof, was home to resident DJs Luke Kennedy, Rebekah and Elliot Croft, and the night's headline act, Moon Harbour impresario Matthias Tanzmann. The Leipzig-based DJ's largest achievement—his predictably beat-perfect set aside—was his level of engagement with the audience. The cool-yet-animated Tanzmann constantly enthralled a crowd of wide demographic and marked enthusiasm, who responded particularly rapturously to the introduction of Oliver $'s "Doin' Ya Thing" as the selector beamed in response.
Sadly, the Rainbow's bomb shelter-esque cellar spent the night more as a hidden gem than the bustling underground hub it should've been. The "Annie Mac Presents" school of fidget, commercial dubstep and touches of drum & bass were the order of the night, and the scattering of revelers surrounded by the cellar's Funktion One system seemed content with the diversity, despite the majority of the rainbow's attendees opting to enjoy Tanzmann's company in the courtyard.
While the numbers in the basement might not have been that big, it's worth noting that few nights (and clubs) in Birmingham even attempt to offer an experience as multi-faceted as FACE, and as the night moves closer to its second anniversary, it'll be interesting to see if the neglected basement can begin to draw the same traffic as the bustling "pub" and heaving main room.