Words: Fran Pope
Images: Libby Smith
Bringing their high-energy mix of garage, UK funky, techno, and jungle to audiences across the country, no_one seem to generate excited crowds and explosive energy wherever they go. Tonight’s event had sold out days in advance, which is good news for a relatively young series, but also a sign of the hard work poured into the project by its founder and team.
Beyond no_one, Rishi is certainly keeping busy: he also DJs as one half of Brown Excellence, a duo championing South Asian music by splicing Bollywood and Bhangra with several other club genres and playing sell-out shows at the Crofter’s Rights in Bristol and Dalston Den in London, as well as a set at Boomtown.
If the photos on Instagram are anything to go by, no_one’s recent nights in London, Leeds, Bristol, and Manchester have overflowed with good vibes, with nobody taking themselves too seriously. So when Friday rolled around, Freestyle Bristol’s Libby and Fran headed down to Thekla with more than a little curiosity, ready to get stuck in.
The night kicked off with two no_one old-hands: DJ Ammi – a prolific Bristol DJ spinning jungle and UKG – on the decks downstairs, and Taran Jawa upstairs. Sadly we arrived too late to catch them, but they had certainly got things moving and the energy was already high.
By midnight, Moktar was getting started on a nicely crafted set that moved skilfully through Afrobeat and global rhythms to bass-heavy breaks.
Meanwhile, Team Woibey (Ell Murphy, Fae, Mixtress, Ohmydais) were blasting the upstairs bar with their infectious tech-leaning mix. Seamlessly passing the baton between them, the four DJs kept up a solid, high-energy momentum until the upper deck closed at 3 a.m. – impressive by anyone’s standards.
Low-end bass and slamming, merciless beats lent themselves to the more intimate space, and while the crowds are naturally smaller in the upstairs bar, there’s also more room to dance; an opportunity that those passing through took full advantage of.
Starting with conversations in the queue to get in, there was a definite buzz of anticipation for Y U QT, billed to follow Moktar in the main room. Thekla’s downstairs area was completely packed out by now with an enthusiastic crowd going wild for the duo’s fearless breaks and ridiculous basslines (so hooky that, if we’re going for full disclosure, the notes for this review were written while actually dancing). Y U QT were sharp, bright, and scuzzily joyful: garage doesn’t get much better.
Next up, DJs Bakey and IZCO delivered an epic 1.5-hour back-to-back set, MC’d by the dazzlingly sharp-tongued Reek0. Bakey has been gathering steam with dates this year including Stockholm, Montreal, Manchester, and London, as well as Glastonbury this summer.
Seasoned performers IZCO and Reek0 are both part of the Brighter Days Family collective – which also counts Nia Archives among its members – and the dialogue between their musical styles felt really cohesive.
With all these crew members, as well as three or four photographers, it was a party onstage as well as off it, and the group dynamic was tangible.
Up on the balcony, looking down on the crowd, we got thinking about the no_one concept, which is an intriguing one. As the project’s website explains, it’s ultimately about breaking free from the things holding us back: “Once one strips away [the] preconceptions that negatively alter our state of being, you become ‘no_one.’
From this state of openness, purity, and freedom, you can become anyone.” Rishi has further explained that “in the shows, I try to curate and create a space for you to strip away – even if just for a night.” And although it might seem surprising to base a party series on an existential positioning, having this idea in mind while on a night out certainly adds another layer to the experience.
More than anything, it points to the profound reflection, care, and passion behind the no_one brand, which is built on an ethos far deeper than most.
Rishi was gearing up to play a half-hour set to close the night when we left, happy and danced-out, gutted to miss the final flourish but already looking forward to future happenings from all the featured DJs, Brown Excellence and, of course, the next no_one party.
There was definitely something in the air at this event; a feeling of positivity and collaboration, and a strong sense of momentum and appreciation from the crowd who had turned up in droves, suggesting the series – already a huge success – is only set to get bigger and better.
And maybe it’s that thoughtfulness, the aforementioned conscious effort to create something positive, freeing, and progressive, that’s at work behind no_one’s popularity and what will surely be its rise and rise.