Warp20 bows out in style

A year of celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of Warp Records ended at Elephant and Castle’s Coronet with Warp20, an all-night party showcasing a dizzying display of laptop camaraderie and creative dexterity from some of the label’s finest exports.  

Though the venue left a lot to be desired (we spent a lot of the night dodging stray drops of rain from the ex-theatre’s ceiling), ample compensation came in the form of epic sets from label veterans Broadcast and Plaid.

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Broadcast’s laptop improvisations and instrument hopping contrasted with Plaid who offered fans and curious onlookers a greatest hits set, loaded to the brim with moody, progressive electronica. Battles took to the stage next, loaded to the gills with instruments and gismos. Afro-haired leader Tyondai Braxton warbled his way through a superb set, the highlight of which was "Atlas" which made the crowd throb in tidal surges.

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The undisputed highlight of the night, however, was Flying Lotus. The LA-based cut chemist served up a bombastic blend of chopped up hip-hop, hilariously over-the-top dubstep and off-kilter R’n’B. The crazed, silhouetted figure, who spent most of the set shrouded in dry ice and hunched over his machine, offered us an ear blistering reminder of why, despite everything, it was good to be alive in 2009.

Exhausted at the end of it all, Esquire left South London deep into the wee small hours of Sunday morning with a welcome reminder of why we should be proud of Warp and its achievements. Jack Mills

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Photographs by Darran Armstrong