Event Review: Floating Points in Glasgow
Sam Shepherd blows the cobwebs off a Hogmanay worn Glasgow crowd with a set of flawless disco and soul.
There probably isn’t another artist I’ve seen DJ more times in the past couple of years than Floating Points. The London producer (a.k.a. Sam Shepherd) has in the course of those dozen or more sets rarely diverged from a trajectory of good-time house and mildly jazzy techno early on, followed by an exploration of his apparently bottomless supply of flawless disco and soul nuggets later. It speaks volumes about how well he carries off the formula, then, that I and several hundred others were willing to put dealing with the aftermath of Glasgow’s legendarily unhinged Hogmanay celebrations on hold, and haul ourselves down to this show on the evening of January 1.
Hosting the show was the Hillhead Bookclub in the city’s west end, which used to be an ornate old cinema and is now a two-floor bar/restaurant with a large mezzanine area between the two. Its use as a club space is generally confined to a couple of events every Christmas—rare enough for it to be equal parts novel and downright odd to find oneself there in a clubbing context. “It’s so weird to be dancing here,” confessed one friend not long into proceedings. “I feel like I’m going to accidentally back into a waiter carrying a couple of portions of macaroni cheese.”
Adding to the strangeness was the fact that Shepherd was DJing on the three-sided, landing-like upper floor of the venue, meaning that those on the ground floor or mezzanine had to turn their heads sharply up to watch him. On previous occasions I’ve found this dynamic annoying. On a frazzled-but-happy New Year’s night, however, pretty well ignoring the DJ and concentrating on the friends in front of you felt appropriate, and it’s safe to say an artist as unassuming as Shepherd will have enjoyed his night of relative anonymity as much as we did.
I often find Shepherd’s early-set house and techno selections a little too soft and wafting to dance to with much enthusiasm. They made for a pleasant accompaniment to catching up with friends over a hair-of-the-dog beer though, even as the odd higher-energy pick (“House Nation” by Housemaster Boyz among them) began to coax a gradually swelling crowd away from the venue’s cocoon-like booths and onto the dance floor.
The final hour and a half was when things really got going, and true to form, disco and soul were the order of the day. The moment the night tipped from bleary after-party into full-throttle party in its own right came near midnight, with a rapturously received airing for Evelyn Champagne King’s “Love Come Down.” From there the venue’s energy suddenly rose—and stayed high—as Shepherd barreled through a flurry of on-point disco edits and originals. Half an hour earlier the crowd might have needed the irresistible “dance dance dance” instruction of Red Greg’s edit of “Feeling Freaky” by the Vandales, but by the time it came along a now-full venue had committed itself to doing just that.
The HK Fit & Fab edit of “I’ve Been Waitin’ For Ya” by Tavo was another highlight, but it was, as usual, impossible to pick a hole in Shepherd’s selections once he hit top gear. His set ended all too soon-the ever-inflexible specter of Glasgow licensing meant a 1am closing. The honey-fried soul of Dee Edwards’s “(I Can) Deal With That” closed things out with hugs and the odd outbreak of “proper dancing,” and confirmed once again that, when it comes to Sam Shepherd, familiarity is very unlikely ever to breed contempt.