Mon 26 Mar 2018

Review… High Contrast at Gorilla

High Contrast
+ Mollie Collins
@ Gorilla, Manchester
22nd March 2018, 7pm

High Contrast (real name Lincoln Barret) has worked his way up to reach the top levels of the drum and bass scene, since getting signed way back in 2000. He wanted to initiate change in the way D&B was made, by adding disco elements – something which is now more commonly featured in today’s D&B, thanks to him. High Contrast has even helped with making the music for the Olympic Opening Ceremony in 2012, which is pretty impressive. His 6th and new album Night Gallery was released in October 2017, and tonight, he is in Manchester’s venue Gorilla, performing a live set.

Support act Mollie Collins, female drum and bass DJ from Kent, already has a few big-name festivals under her belt, such as Color and One Dance. She also does a weekly residency every Monday in Chatham, at the Tap N Tin.

The stage isn’t set out how I expected. I’ve been to DJ sets and EDM events before and thought I would be seeing a huge set up of decks, controllers and keyboards. But instead, there’s a full-on drum kit and both bass and electric guitars. I really love reviewing these gigs with an open mind and little previous knowledge of the artist, because now I am so excited as to what both DJ’s are going to give to us tonight.

Appearing in the DJ window above the stage, is Mollie Collins, and she wastes no time in warming up the crowd, coming out with the hardest, fastest beats. Her mixing skills are very good, keeping the BPM going, but shoving in some pauses for the drops to take full effect. She is constantly going back and forth across the decks, turning knobs, adjusting slides to keep the effects going and overlaying segments of tracks. Having gotten into the EDM scene through my boyfriend (also a DJ and Producer), it has made me appreciate how hard it can be to do a mix live. You must always make sure the tracks are beat-matched and keep on top of what you are doing so that the crowd is moving and entertained. It’s very noticeable if you don’t cue in a track at the right time.

As soon as High Contrast starts, I already love the difference between his and Mollie’s set. High Contrast has balanced out the night perfectly. Hi live vocalists add a much-needed melodic element over the usual fast rhythm of D&B percussion. This is a whole new thing for me to see a DJ performing with a live band. It all still sounds so in sync, as tight as if it was still being played through CDJs/DDJs, all perfectly mixed and mastered and pre-recorded. For ‘Tobacco Road’, High Contrast mixes together bluesy, distorted electric guitar with rock vocals and D&B, which together sounds so good! It’s not something you would think of doing, as though genres are very far apart, but it’s honestly such a cool mixture. ‘I’ll Get High’ adds in a slight disco element to D&B that High Contrast is so known for. It’s a lot slower, but more atmospheric. You get into a trance like state watching him and his band re-create these tracks live. Raves are always magical places to be.

“Who knows this one?”, yells High Contrast as he starts up ‘If We Ever’. “This one’s for Danny V, Rest in Peace”.

Tonight, High Contrast gives out a special treat to the crowd, by debuting new, unheard track ‘Dissolve’, which goes down a storm, as well as funky 80s disco-esque ‘The Beat Don’t Feel The Same’. One of the key elements to keeping the audience interested in your set – if you’re a band or DJ – is to mix up the genres, slow things down, speed things up, and keep the adrenaline running.

In the last 15 minutes of the gig, High Contrast blasts out lead single off Night Gallery, ‘Questions’, prompting a mass sing-a-long from the crowd. I’ve really enjoyed High Contrast’s performance tonight. Seeing a live DJ set with an accompanying band was so cool and I feel honoured to have reviewed one of the most iconic artists in drum and bass today.

Words: Victoria Hicks