Bicep With Ross From Friends At The Roundhouse

So last weekend I went to Bicep’s headline show at London’s Roundhouse in Camden, and the Belfast-born, London-based house duo comprised of Matt McBriar and Andy Ferguson put on a show and a half. As an added bonus they also included Ross From Friends on the show’s line up, and the lo-fi house producer opened up his slot with a promising stageshow, accompanied by a band with a groovy looking guitarist and a saxophonist plucked straight from planet soul.

They came in caped with atmospheric blue lights, setting off their performance with Don’t Wake Dad; the intro to Ross From Friends latest EP Aphelion – a curious mix of 80’s Eurobeat and electronic dance, released earlier this year. ‘Don’t Wake Dad’ has a soulful house vibe, with a minimalist beat and sci-fi like synths. A change to red lights mid way through the song further increased the space opera aura, signalling lift off.

Dan Medhurst

Next came ‘Romeo, Romeo’, taken from his debut EP The Outsiders, released on iconic label Brainfeeder. Lathered in funky marimba chords, the track gives off a very 80’s vibe and sounds like something that could have been on Beverley Hills Cop. But it has more of an edge, with its thumping cowbells coupled with a shrieking whistle, inducing me to break out into a tribal skank.

The crowd were loving it, along with Ross From Friends who was constantly vibesing out throughout the proceedings, bopping from side to side like a Dad at a family reunion. He then brought in ‘Talk To Me You’ll Understand’, the song that initially got me into him. If the Mona Lisa was a lo-fi house track, this would be it. The woozy and choppy keyboard synths are otherworldly and the Flashdance ‘Maniac’ sample is to die for.

With myself and everyone in attendance in the palm of his hands, he delivers ‘There’s a Hole in My Heart’, another track from Aphelion. The track brings back early 80’s sonics with this synth-pop oeuvre, bringing up a nostalgic feeling of warmth. His saxophonist then came in for a solo laden with deep emotional texture, riding a backdrop of industrial and mechanical techno sounds.

Dan Medhurst

The blue lights came down, reflecting the end of the space odyssey that Ross From Friends took the audience on. But he still kept the good vibes flowing with ‘Bootman’, an R&B tinged house cut so moving he has to pull it up. The crowd broke out into thunderous applause in response to the naughty number. He exited with the place buzzing like a bee in more ways than one for the introduction of the headliners.

Bicep came out on a stage that was out of this world, only pictures can do the futuristic set up justice. They kicked things off with ‘Orca’, the intro track to their self-titled debut album released in 2017 via Ninja Tune. With this album, they managed to siphon sounds from classic house, techno, electro and Italo disco into a modern sonic signature bearing the unique Bicep stamp.

Dan Medhurst

‘Orca’ is an upbeat tech-house thumper, layered with choppy steel pans which create an insanely kinetic atmosphere. The crowd took it in as if their lives depended on it. Bicep’s cult following came out strong this show and it’s not surprising considering the 8 years that have passed since their classic first release EP 1 in 2010. Next they dropped ‘Rain’ which is soaked with dreamy Bollywood-esque vocals against a trance backdrop. The light show was now on another level, sending the crowd into a hypnotic daze. There was so much love and positive energy floating around the room at this point that I was overtaken by a wave of happy emotions. The lights were coming in at the same frequency as the beat, causing my arms to swing back and forth similar to the Carlton dance. I was officially entranced.

The next one received triumphant cheers from the crowd. 2015 cult classic ‘Just’ is an 8 bit inspired bubbly production which incorporates skittering hi-hats, sending vibrations through us. Harnessing this energy, Bicep unleash ‘Dahlia’, an R&B affected house woozer that sent Roundhouse into a frenzy.

Dan Medhurst

The visuals coming from the stage were  reminiscent of being under a waterfall, but then the smoothly sailing ship stalled. The lead single and album closer ‘Aura’- an intricate and bouncy club track- briefly came to a halt. The malfunction, according to Bicep, occurred because the bass was so loud on stage that it actually shook the soundcard connection out. They brought it in catching the crowd just as it was about to fall off. The vibe was now infectious and even with the minor clanger, no one was on a boujee tip with everyone letting themselves go to the music.

They were now holding the crowd to ransom with ‘Vale’, a sprawling and atmospheric house jam. They tease the drop and then unleash it like Beyblade, sending the throng into a frenzy before making a prompt exit. Momentarily we were in a state of shock, hoping the show wasn’t over before thankfully our wish is granted. Bicep soared back out with ‘Kites’, a spacious breakbeat trance number which smoothly transitions into ‘Glue’, a serenely beautiful track, which sits atop a head nodding boom-bap production. We are now in a transcendent state of nirvana, the final goal of pure musical paradise has been reached and with that Bicep close out the show amid tremendous applause from the satisfied fans.

Written by /
Published /
May 7
Category /
Event Review