The Belfast duo play the first of three-sold out shows.
The sheer scale of Printworks conjures a sense of occasion whatever the party. The buzz around Bicep was such that during their set I saw multiple groups of friends legging it to and from the loos so as not to miss anything. The crowd was mixed, a combination of couples on dates, older pals enjoying an after-work gig and students on a mid-week rager. The atmosphere on the dance floor varied as a result—in some places it fell flat, while elsewhere devout fans scrambled onto shoulders and waved their hands in the air for most of the 90-minute show.
Press Halls is a long, narrow space with very high ceilings. While it's great for a rave, I came away from Afropunk Festival last year thinking it didn't work as well for live shows, as it's hard for the artists to really connect with the audience. The Bicep event sat somewhere between the club and a gig, which meant that, despite pockets of disengagement, that connection wasn't absent, thanks in large part to the booming sound coming from four rows of speaker stacks.
Stood facing each other on a raised platform, Ferguson and McBriar's silhouettes were stark against a backdrop of elemental visuals and a kaleidoscopic Bicep logo. The set centred on last year's debut album, with space for the 2015 hit "Just" and "Dahlia," their collaboration with Hammer. After a rousing rendition of "Aura," its trancey synths so moving they were almost cheesy, they played two cuts I didn't recognise. The first was a straight-up house jam, the second a thumping techno track with a shrill top line. Both went down well, but it felt like an interlude that didn't quite belong, a fleeting step away from that distinctive Bicep flair we were all there to see.
Rectangular lighting panels had been erected around the duo to form a cube of mesmerising glassy visuals. During "Rain," a watery vortex. For their remix of Isaac Tichauer's "Higher Level," fiery reds. And for their last track, "Vale," jungle greens. By that point, piercing lasers had begun shooting towards the back wall.
Except it wasn't the last track because, as it transpires, Bicep do encores now. After a hair-raising wave of cheers and whistles, the duo returned to close out the first of three live performances, their last in London until 2020. It was only fitting that they end with "Glue." The atmosphere was electric, as technicolour lasers glittered overhead and the soaring vocal ricocheted off the steel girders.
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