First Hand: Nightmares On Wax (24 Kitchen Street)
Written by Jaxon Eastabrook on 29th November 2016
Last Saturday night, for the second time this year and third time at 24 Kitchen Street, Liverpool played host to the amazing talents of Mr George Evelyn, AKA Nightmares on Wax. Simultaneously, punters were also lucky enough to witness the Liverpool debut of Mr Terrel Wallace, AKA Tall Black Guy. A collaboration between local legends 24 Kitchen Street, Madnice Marauders and Bam Bam Bam, the show progressed from gorgeous downtempo hip hop through to thumping disco and house, having all the symptoms of a fantastic dance party.
On his Liverpool debut, Tall Black Guy did not disappoint. Having premiered music on Gilles Peterson’s reputable Worldwide and with fans including the likes of Roots drummer Questlove, the Detroit native guided us through gorgeous fusions of trip hop, downtempo and hip hop. His latest album, Let’s Take a Trip, dropped October 28th and is an apt guide to the vibe the man displayed on Saturday, highlighting the jazz and early hip hop influences of his Detroit upbringing. With some unfortunate technical glitches hindering him towards the start, he was quick to grab the mic and distract us with charm until everything was soon working smoothly. He then swiftly took off into a set that dripped with soul and showed off his refreshing take on hip hop drum programming. Tall Black Guy guided the crowd through head bopping grooves, and one of his own productions which sampled the sultry voice of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” even prompted a memorable sing-a-long from the crowd.
Next up was the headliner, the one and only Nightmares on Wax. Best known for albums on the downtempo/trip hop tip from the late 90’s to early 2000’s including Carboot Soul, Smokers Delight and In a Space Outta Soul as well has his Ibiza-based ‘Wax Da Jam’ parties, this was Evelyn’s second time playing to a packed dancefloor in Liverpool this year, and rightfully so. With the tone perfectly set by Tall Black Guy, playing sounds mirroring those found in Nightmare’s recent The Now Experience tapes – a collection of tapes made by him and his Leeds-based “Inner City Life” crew between ’86 and ’97, Evelyn lifted the vibe to slowly bring the crowd up to boiling point.
In what some may have perceived as an uncharacteristic Nightmares on Wax set, Evelyn certainly proved that he is by no means limited to the slower sounds of his earlier works. On the back of his house-vibed Ground Floor EP which was released the day before the show, he moved through thumping disco and house, keeping the dancefloor dense throughout. No matter how hard his selections were, he always maintained some element of his soulful roots, bringing the dancefloor to a cheer with Alicia Myer’s “I Want to Thank You” and also chugging along with deeper tunes like “Lets Dance and Freak” from like Luke Vibert’s disco/house/acid hybrid project Kerrier District.
In the realm of local selectors, there was lovely soul sounds by Madnice’s Adam McAleavey, and while Nightmares on Wax and Tall Black Guy shared a well-deserved glass of champagne, Hustle don James Morgan manned the tables to push the dancefloor as far as they could go with particularly thumping disco sounds, before easing everyone off after a night of fantastic and diverse sounds.