The drum & bass legend slays a homecoming show.
Saturday night was a homecoming gig for the party's headliner, Calibre. Outside, over cigarettes and overpriced cans of Red Stripe, I heard gasps of disbelief as people realised that he was, in fact, from Belfast. Indeed, at the turn of the millennium, he ran his own drum & bass night in the same venue we found ourselves in, The Menagerie. Dimly lit and capped at 100, it's one of the best-loved independent spots in the city, housing everything from techno and Northern Soul nights to reggae parties with colossal, custom-built soundsystems.
Joining Calibre was MC Lariman, whose relationship with the drum & bass DJ goes back to the 2005 classic "Second Sun." Calibre opened with a string of dubby, downtempo cuts that had everyone swaying from side to side. Lariman's involvement was short but sweet, adding a different energy and dynamic to the room. His tales of righteousness and self-expression were moving and inspiring. I'd have liked to have heard more.
The energy levels went up. No one stood still as Calibre moved from tracks with soft chords and scattered breaks to the darker, in-your-face tones of Serum's remix of "Hearing Is Believing" by MA2. As 2 AM approached—Northern Ireland's dated licensing laws mean club nights rarely go longer—the crowd showed no signs of thinning. It was a wonderful illustration of what can be found if you scratch beneath the surface of Belfast's mainstream.