Featuring Erol Alkan, Justin Robertson

In a sweaty, dark basement, a lone figure bobs up and down spinning vinyl. Erol Alkan is wedged in a corner, cramped against the bricks playing to what is (for him) a relatively tiny number of people. This must be the smallest gig big Erol's done for a while, but there is no sign of discomfort or unease at the step down, this is how he started out after all.
Now a bona fide superstar, he revels in his set, not to mention the bodies pressed up against each other in front of him in blissed-out adulation. Pausing only to suck bourbon from jam jars, Dalston Superstore's rabble is throbbing.

The prohibition era tipple sloshing its way all over the place tonight is Four Roses, and we're at the second in a series of three speakeasy nights Clash and the drink makers are putting on in the capital. Following Jerry Dammers' east London skank a few weeks back, we've moved few streets west to Dalston, the sunglasses indoors, wonky haircut and natty clobber capital of the world, for something entirely different.

Tonight Bugged Out’s Johnno Burgess has grabbed a clutch of DJs by the scruff of the neck and transported them back in time to their sets of way back when, when they first played for the electronic techno giant. So we’re in the mood for a trip down memory lane, special intrigue reserved for Erol Alkan: Before You Were Famous, of course.

Erol’s set is flanked by Justin Robertson’s Mancunian onslaught of finely-honed electronic wizardry and the bass-heavy, dub smeared noise Tayo makes, he follows Mr Alkan with ‘Flat Beat,’ an inspired drop that has the room reverberating to the sound of a vaguely unsettling yellow puppet set to a bassline that has stood the test of time impressively.

As for the main man, he doesn’t put a foot wrong, dancing effortlessly up and down a sonic tightrope between crowd-pleasing house bangers and an ethereal landscape of electronic darkness. Erol is on it tonight, he knows it, we know it and the reaction at the end is as close to losing their icy cool as these hipsters will get all night.

Kylie and New Order clamber all over each other before Erol whisks us away on a one-way runaway train to la la land. Moments like these land somewhere near epic, it’s a special treat indeed hearing what this man and his wax can do in a space this small. Eschewing even a hint of his indie cuts, he sticks rigidly to a dance Dalston dance formula that is relentless on its mazy, warped way to a suitably euphoric climax. Behind the de rigueur facial fuzz is a man capable of bending the minds of his audience, guiding it on a journey that finishes way up above the Kingsland Road.

Modernity and forward-thinking have thankfully made speakeasies and illegal watering holes a thing of the past, but these two conceptual bedfellows don’t stop there. They ensure that musicians like those flaunting their wares here continue to evolve, to create and keep us wanting more. That tonight’s soundtrack was complemented by the icy goodness of some damn fine liquor, iced Clash’s cake of musical boundary pushing perfectly.

Words by Ben Homewood
Photo by Marc Sethi

View a photo gallery from the event HERE.

Find out more about the Four Roses Speakeasy events and win tickets HERE.

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