Chapter XIII – The Next Chapter raised the bar for Birmingham’s The Rainbow Venues

The Chapter series at the Rainbow Venues are an annual bank holiday celebration of a cornerstone in Birmingham clubbing and nightlife located at Lower Trinity Street, Digbeth. This year marking 13 years of a venue which started at an old Victorian boozer with a capacity of 200 people to expanding into a whole complex of warehouses, gardens, roof top terraces and arena spaces which have played host to the best of Birmingham’s house and techno brands, the arena also staged the world renowned Circoloco amongst other sell out festivals and parties including MADE Festival and 02:31.

No expense was spared with Chapter XIII with 9 brands hosting areas throughout the Rainbow complex including Chapter, Drumcode, Leftfoot, Art of Dark, Appolonia, Social Underground, Portal, White Men Can’t Funk and Tektu. It was however the legendary warehouse space playing host to Drumcode which was showcasing a brand new refurbishment and M-Audio sound system, and believe me it didn’t disappoint.

I arrived around 3pm which was an hour before last entrance (gates opened 12pm-12am). The site entrance was the car park to now sadly closed Air (formerly CODE) the home of GodsKitchen. The queues moved fairly quickly, almost as quickly as the sniffer dogs the other side of the gates. I was prompted to one side and pleasantly invited for a strip search. All ended well, I kept my pants on and entered the site. It’s safe to say security were on form.

The main Chapter arena was a short walk through the first of an outdoor space which included a main bar tent, toilets and various eating stalls. As you walked into the main arena you were hit by the main stage, the production was second to none as Adam Shelton and Lewis Oxley were warming things up with a warm and welcoming groove.

Walking on through and exiting at the back of the main arena was the entrance to the warehouse and Black Box. Slightly to the right was the outdoor Portal Stage. The weather was playing nicely, the sun was shining and sunglasses were out. The outdoor’s were the place to be earlier on as everyone was lapping up the sun. If you have ever been to Rainbow venues there is a roof terrace perfect for this weather, and that’s where I headed.

En route to the terrace the new warehouse was calling and the mighty Drumcode was just getting going with Bart Skils taking to the decks at 4pm. Instantly you could appreciate the new warehouse space. The new system was pounding, crystal clear and, well… Bart Skils was playing. Need I say more. Safe in the knowledge there was 2 hrs of his set I took to the stairs up to the rooftop terrace.

Art of Dark, a London based record label were hosting the terrace. I had just missed Colin Chiddle on warm up duty and Andrew James Gustav had thing moving along nicely. I was expecting a head nodding groove up on top, but not today. I’d say it was pretty chugging, a nice energy but not too tough. There wasn’t much room and probably not far off capacity. Everyone had the same idea to head to the sun trap, if the system had a touch more bass to it I might have stayed a touch longer but Bart Skils was calling. Back down to the warehouse I go.

To simply sum up the general atmosphere in the warehouse by this point it was all smiles and clearly this was the place to be for your techno. I made a note in my phone as a memory jog for this moment – I had simply put nailing! I’ve been a long time fan of Bart’s productions but never heard him play until now. An opportunity gladly savoured. Free space to dance was quickly becoming an issue and I knew within the hour or so a queue system to enter the warehouse would be in full effect so I took the opportunity to grab some food before Dense & Pika stepped up at 6pm.

On returning from the food stalls out near the main entrance I stopped in the main Chapter arena for a short while as Andrea Oliva was laying down the beats you all would know him for playing at ANTS, Ushuaia in Ibiza. Specifically at this moment in time it was Late Night Tuff Guys ‘I Get Deep’ which stopped me in my tracks. Conscious of the queues growing to get back into the warehouse I reluctantly dragged myself away.

I have to admit I was wondering how Dense & Pika would follow on from Bart Skils but their set was a clinical warm up for Joseph Capriati. The first hour was chunky and heavy with pounding kicks and piercing hi hats which once again I have to pay credit to the new sound system. I’m a big fan of warm up sets and this was awesome from the guys which ended with a really nice energy shift leading up to the man I’m 100% sure everyone was in the warehouse for – Joseph Capriati.

…. and did this guy not disappoint, snatching my award for set of the day/night. I wish I could say more but in between dancing and smiling I didn’t have much brain capacity for anything else. The Jack Daniels was probably kicking in a bit too. On this note the drinks prices were’t too bad, I’ve paid a lot more at other clubs and festivals. It was time for Drumcode head Adam Beyer to take over at 10pm for the final 2hrs. As much as I would have liked to stay I wondered away after the first 45mins as it had dawned on me I’ve spent 90% of my time in the same spot. It really is a praise to how good Drumcode was but one last attempt of exploring was on the cards.

The plan was to head on down to Solardo on the Portal Stage. These guys have been making a great name for themselves of late. With so many other final sets going on it’s a shame they didn’t have the crowd I’d expected. As I headed back into the Chapter arena it became apparent where it was all happening. Jamie Jones was closing and much to my delight was giving it some. You could really see the stage and lighting production in it’s full effect. Very impressive and I give my biggest respects to Lee McDonald and his team for pulling off an amazing event.

I do have some regrets, as with most festivals you can’t always get to see every act you wanted too, namely The Black Madonna, Dubfire and I didn’t even see the Apollonia stage. I have to say though I was very impressed with Art of Dark on the rooftop. On numerous occasions I popped up there and there was a consistent energy and great vibe.

To close out the review. The balls of my feet were aching for 3 days after. It’s the first time the bottoms of my feet have felt bruised from dancing. If that’s not a sign of a good event I don’t know what is. See you again for the next Chapter!

About the Author

UK based former DJ and promoter, co-owner, director, writer & creative at Decoded Magazine. Studied at the University of Wolverhampton graduating in Graphic Communication & Typography (BA Hons). In house video editor and avid MMA follower with a keen ear for dark, twisted, hypnotic, tribal progressive house and techno.