I’ve seen a lot of discourse surrounding the best way to see a DJ set. The standard of the audience facing the artist, lifted on a platform, feels almost too much like worship for many people. In contrast, I believe that the traditional Boiler Room format – with the audience surrounding the DJ from 360 degrees – not only feels more organic, but it also brings an unparalleled energy to the audience. Which is why when a set from this mainstay music organization does achieve notoriety in the public eye, the influence is massive.
Not since Kaytranada’s iconic 2013 set in Montreal have I seen a Boiler Room installment achieve the widespread critical acclaim of Fred Again..’s recent addition to the platform released last month. The multi-genre maestro connects with the crowd in a beautiful way, dancing alongside them as if a part of the audience after extended freestyle drum pad breaks. With this awe-inducing set recently blowing up, I wanted to highlight some lesser-known Boiler Room essentials that bring just as much to the table.
SICARIA SOUND – LDN: Bass & Percs #2
The friendship and shared love of dubstep between Lou Nour and Sancha Ndeko formed Sicaria Sound–a gifted DJ duo bringing the eclectic tastes of the 140 BPM underground to the forefront. Beginning in 2018, they took to the airwaves with a monthly Rinse FM residency, putting on many up-and-comers in the scene. Starting exclusively as DJs, the pair have since delved into producing, bringing us unique cuts like this from their 2021 Binate EP.
The energy is set from track one of this installment of Sicaria Sound’s extensive catalogue of stellar mixes. They bring unmatched chemistry, leading the crowd in a hypnotic sway as they open with the wonky “Seizure” by Fiend. From there, progressing to higher energy tracks that whip the crowd up into a frenzy. The set is rife with seamless transitions and double-drops, making them among my most exciting DJs to watch. The second run of their U.S. tour begins soon, so make sure to check them out when they’re in your area for a more recent taste of the duo’s ever-changing DJ sets.
NIKKI NAIR – Boiler Room: Hyderabad
Nikki Nair is in a lane of his own. My introduction to the dynamic producer came with his More Is Different EP on Dirtybird, specifically the track “It Goes.” It’s an unbelievable track that starts with dubstep and progresses into a gorgeous techno outro. Since then, Nair has released several singles ranging from halftime, footwork, jungle, and UK garage, often combining multiple genres in a single track.
Such intense variation in his releases mimics the chaotic nature of his live sets too. Abrupt changes in energy leave the crowd particularly locked in throughout the set’s hour runtime. Even in that time, he’s able to craft a cohesive mix that approaches forty songs. After seeing this Boiler Room set premier, I was completely hooked. Nikki Nair has been one of my favorite finds of late. Interestingly, venturing outside the sets of artists I’m familiar with has led me to some of the most innovative artists.
ANZ – Boiler Room London
Anz, the English DJ, producer and label-founder got her start uploading mixes to Soundcloud, which began to take off after the release of her first EP entitled Invitation to Dance. The pandemic allowed her ample time to refine her craft, seeing her release several projects in genres across the UK club music spectrum. Though based in Manchester, she’s now brought her sets to a number of foreign locales, even playing a set at the coveted Panorama Bar within Berghain.
Like Nair, Anz brings an especially dynamic set. Beginning with house music, she increases the BPM as the mix continues. Standout moment for me is her transition from a garage tune from Pyper into house classic “Deep Inside” by Hardrive–an interesting double, but one that works and gets the crowd moving. The end result is an amazingly upbeat, playful, and punchy DJ set that really showcases the breadth of Anz’ prowess as a producer and on the decks.
TYGAPAW – Boiler Room x Primavera Sound Barcelona
Jamaican-born, Brooklyn-based phenom TYGAPAW first caught my eye with their Love Thyself EP, filled with dancehall-inspired techno heaters (see “The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth”). Since, they’ve become an icon in the NYC club scene for their curated club nights, elevating queer people of color and their music in an industry that has become predominantly cis-het. The contemporary club scene was paved by black queer people, and we love to see TYGAPAW bring us back to those roots.
Oftentimes, I find that the most stoic of DJs bring out the best sets. That’s especially true here. They take the decks without a word, and kick off the set with the classic “Multiply” by Skin on Skin. From there, we’re in for a propulsive mix of IDs, though we do get some familiar a cappella mixes from Nelly Furtado and even Charli XCX. All in all, it’s a set I really wish I could’ve attended.
For any electronic music lover, an official Boiler Room set is an essential notch on the bucket list. One that I’ve yet to check off but, in the meantime, I continue to bump sets on the organization’s YouTube religiously. The beauty, in my eyes, is the way the crowd in the background lends energy to the artist as well as the audience, even if viewing from behind a computer screen. In combination with DJs coming out in peak form, the Boiler Room set offers what I believe to be the pinnacle of live electronic music experience.