TNGHT’s debut self-titled EP is more or less a blast of pure sonic adrenaline. And as such was a project no doubt crafted with serious consideration as to how the bursts of bass heavy energy would sound in the setting of a densely populated club room. That remains true even if the main focus was, as the duo of Hudson Mohawke and Lunice have previously claimed, to take on the current wave of maximalist American rap producers at their own game, a game already indebted in no small way to each half of the duo’s previous solo work. If Sunday’s headline slot at the Lucky Me Festival Party in Scotland’s capital demonstrated one thing, it was that in this context, this stuff works well. Really well.
From the start, the show had a lot going for it. Following a one-off showcase in London a couple of months back, this is one of the duo’s first ever shows together, and while not entirely a homecoming, (Hudson Mohawke and the Lucky Me collective have their roots in the larger, relatively nearby city of Glasgow), a Lucky Me show taking place in the crew’s small home country of Scotland, particularly one featuring Hud-Mo on the bill, will very likely feel significant to many given their current world beating potential. These factors undeniably had their effect, but it was in combination with the pure undeniable quality of the small amount of music TNGHT have released so far that created a truly palpable sense of excitement in the fully packed, 800 or so capacity Liquid Rooms.
It’s around 2 a.m. when Hud-Mo and Lunice take to the stage, after letting the crowd get effectively lulled and whipped up by a trippy, colourfully tinted bass set spun by Eclair Fifi, and the crowd immediately seems to burst into a screaming, sweaty mass of enjoyment, that builds to levels approaching euphoria, over the course of what amounts to a roughly 75 minute set. Both Hudson Mohawke and his Canadian homie Lunice are respected DJs in their own right with proven and tested skills in working a party to its peak and keeping it there, and as a duo the soundtrack they provide is as on point as you’d expect.
They do of course play almost all the tracks from their EP, but considering that records brief running time they have a lot of extra space to fill, and they do so remarkably well. Whether dropping the filthiest gems from their solo discographies, (the reaction to Hudson Mohawke’s weirdo stomp “C-Bat”, from the Satin Panthers EP, in particular stands out amongst this crop), gigantic tracks like Baauer’s “Harlem Shake”, (mixed expertly to prepare the crowd for the dropping of the duo’s own “Higher Ground”), or just some straight up heavy, trap infused hip-hop, there are no lulls in the set, no moments where momentum lags. Keeping a crowd so active for so long is a pretty incredible thing to behold.
It may be the infusion of the heavier beats of hip-hop into an environment that for many is too awash in straight ahead house rhythms and the ever more ubiquitous, ever more wobbly off shoots of dubstep that makes this evening and TNGHT in a broader sense feel so fresh, but that could just as easily be down to the pair of DJs themselves. Incredible DJ sets can and have been spun by artists with very little charisma, and many if not most DJ sets are focused more purely on the music being played than a gig a band might play.
TNGHT, however, are almost as much of a pleasure to watch as they are to listen to. The contrast between Hud-Mo’s stern faced cool and the hyperactive, earnest joy exhibited by Lunice only adds to the euphoric feeling permeating the room, particularly in the numerous moments that Lunice breaks out from behind the decks to wild out, dance and clasp the hands of as many of his followers as possible at the front of the stage before dashing back to join his musical other half and drop the next banger.
After they finish, the crowd continues to scream for more, seemingly unwilling to let them leave. They are treated, however, to more sets, lasting until 5 a.m., in somewhat similar veins; first courtesy of the excellent Machinedrum, then of back to back mixing from S-Type and The Blessings, who eventually end the night on a high note by pairing the music back to its hip-hop roots with spins of “Survivial of the Fittest”, “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” and “Regulate” that send the crowd into one last frenzy. At closing time, Lunice is still on stage, having been their playing hype man during his friend’s subsequent sets, apologizing to the crowd for not being able to play one more song. Its testament to the power of his creative partnership with Hud-Mo that, even amongst such impressive company, they were unquestionably the main event of the night, and what everyone in attendance will be taking about, in revering tones, for some time to come.