Having garnered a reputation as a true Ibiza juggernaut, the excitement in London was palpable over the Easter weekend as ANTS invaded the UK capital, bringing a full roster of talent with them to the O2 Academy in Brixton. A legendary venue that has hosted just about every big name in dance music over the years, Brixton Academy uses a sloped dancefloor to give a spectacular view to every area of the crowd, including all those back-row ravers.
Upon arrival in Brixton, the daylight gave way to the darkness of night, a sign of the later sunsets of spring now upon us, and as the dark came, so did the ANTS. Swarming towards the venue in their hoards, the vibrant atmosphere lingered in the air with the bright green lights of the outside of the Academy illuminating the faces of the eager colony gathered outside. Since forming in 2013, the weekly ANTS parties at Ushuaïa Ibiza have taken on iconic status, proving one of the most popular nights on the white isle with their unique brand of dark and brooding house and techno beats, and in London, the ANTS team brought their signature production along as well.
The reason for this gathering was, of course, the music. And unsurprisingly, the unison were not left disappointed. Entering during the tail end of Dennis Christopher’s set, the crowd, beautiful in appearance with girls in their spangly glitter-clad costumes, and many men sporting all black-attire, much of which fell into the category of official ANTS merchandise, were warmed up nicely. Look around, and toes were beginning to tap. Gentle two-steps were now taking place. And loose limbs looking to groove were starting to flail in a subtle manner.
Enter Secondcity, one of the few DJ’s to have blurred the lines between underground and mainstream, scoring a highly impressive UK #1 with his 2014 single,’I Wanna Feel.’ The American-born British producer ploughed his way through a dark and brooding set that had real techno vibes about it, with a mellow vibe and slowed-tempo, giving the crowd the chance to slowly find their rhythm and get into the swing of things. His set was the perfect backdrop for the stark contrast offered by the next artists in the offering; the enigmatic Serge Santiago and Firas Waez, aka. Waze & Odyssey.
If Secondcity’s aim was to give the cluster of gathered ravers a gradual incline of BPM, Waze & Odyssey seemed intent on taking things from warm to scolding, upping the tempo with a high-beat house-vibe to a now almost packed, and ever noisier venue. A real particular highlight of the set came when the opening chords of Ibiza classic, ‘Greece 2000‘ by Three Drives, echoed around the opera theatre-designed walls of the Academy, teasing the audience into what was about to occur. The resulting drop was met with a chorus of cheers as the Ibiza vibes of ANTS and the colony’s Ushuaïa home was temporarily transcended onto this Easter weekend in London.
Some producers need no introduction and to say the evening’s next act took things up a level would be an understatement. Groove Armada have been spinning behind the wheels of steel for as long as most dance fans can remember, and though the term is often tossed around loosely in the present era, the definition of “legend” is surely personified by Andy and Tom, the English duo behind this iconic act. Playing side-by-side, the duo blitzed through a collection of phenomenal cuts including a simply breathtaking mash of an instrumental of Jax Jones‘ chart hit ‘You Don’t Know Me‘ and their own instantly recognizable ‘I See You Baby’ acapella. Closing their set out with a flurry of superb mixes, including their very own “Superstylin'”, it set the tone perfectly for the oncoming DJ, who was about to take things to the next level.
Chatting with the rabid crowd swarming the dancefloor, they were all in agreement about who the act was they had all come to see. Every question was met with the same two-word response. And to take nothing away from the sensational performances of the other acts, it felt like the pinnacle was approaching. Two words were being muttered around like a game of chinese whispers. ‘Eats Everything.’ And soon it was clear to see why.
Taking over from the Groove Armada boys, ‘Eats’ (aka. Daniel Pearce), stood for a moment in a dream three-pronged line-up, getting a feel for his impending mix as they prepared to hand over. And with his own intro bellowed to the crowd, the UK DJ sent a menacing ripple from front to back with his opening drop, with many shoulder surfers now up in the air, waving ‘EE’ flags around. Relentless in his energy, the Briton displayed no signs of letting up at any point, working in the irresistible vocals of Daft Punk‘s ‘Harder Better Faster’, and the monumental crescendo of Green Velvet‘s ‘Flash.’
Not to be outdone at his own event, the King of ANTS himself, Andrea Oliva, was the cherry on top of this deliciously musical cake, bringing the same techno perfection his iconic Ushuaïa sets are laced with, dropping the wondrous ‘Iboga’ by OC & Verde to bring this sensational eight-hour evening to an earth-shattering close. As you would imagine from the ANTS concept, everything about this event was borderline perfect, and with the brand always growing, we cannot wait to get out to Ibiza with Ushuaïa now only one short month away from opening for the 2017 season, and once again become part of this ANTS colony that look set to dominate the global dance scene for many years to come.
Photographs: Graham Joy