by Georgia Sanders
It’s been billed as Shoreditch’s answer to the Secret Cinema of the music world – so we went along and checked it out.
Based in a secret Shoreditch location, Trespass (by Mahogany sessions) has been billed as the Secret Cinema of the music world – an immersive experience likened to being submerged in a music video. And of course, as soon as something gets labelled with the word ‘cinema’, our interest gets piqued – so we had to go along and check it out.
The premise was simple. It would be a secret gig, with secret acts, in a secret location, with just 100 tickets per night. We went along to the opening night, and were given a map at our meeting point that lead us to the secret location – what appeared to be an abandoned house down a back street off Spitalfield’s market.
The makeshift venue screamed ‘hipster heaven’ with its bare brick, scraps of old wallpaper and an improvised MDF bar (now I’m not one to complain about bar prices – I live in London, after all – but £2 for a tonic water poured from a 1.5l multipack bottle seems a little steep even by my standards).
As the audience members piled into what must have, at one point, been someone’s living room, the limited 100 tickets suddenly seemed a much vaster number than it originally had. It was a warm and muggy evening, in desperate need of a storm, and one hundred music fans trying to climb each other in the tiny room didn’t QUITE work. Nonetheless, we managed to grab a beer before retreating to the safety of the street, where the air was.
After some speculation as to who the artists would be and minor concern that we couldn’t see any logical place for a band to be placed, the organiser beckoned us to the archway which had been separated by some large sheets of canvas paper, inviting those at the front to rip their way into the first immersive experience. On the other side stood an upright piano in front of a tree that seemed to grow through the floor and up into the ceiling; dead leaves scattered the floor and the first act – Amber Run – began with a beautiful trill of the piano accompanied by an acoustic guitar and some delightful four part harmonies.
Skeptical though we had been up until this point, we soon recovered our optimism as, within three songs, a dozen members of the audience began to pipe in – stooges, all – in a perfect choral harmony to create one of the most incredibly raw, immersive, and hauntingly beautiful moments I had ever experienced. My companion and I both agreed afterwards that we’d never heard anything so magical. To give you an idea, here is a video of Amber Run and the choir at their mahogany session.
After a ten minute bustle back to the bar and some brief concern at not being able to find the lavatory, we were lead upstairs by the same megaphone-wielding man, where we were treated to someone who, in my opinion, needs to be topping the charts – immediately. I know it sounds like I’m gushing over these musicians, so I’ll let you know in advance that the following two acts weren’t so great. But this guy, seriously.
Martin Luke Brown has an amazing voice, an incredible range, and an eclectic catalogue of songs that had the already very warm audience sweating as they danced along. But what really made his set was his personality – he was the only one of the artists who made us feel as though we had been truly welcomed into his psyche. Unfortunately, the immersive aspect of the evening stopped there.
Despite the attempts to recreate music video style locations, we essentially were just watching bands play in various rooms of a house. And whilst, yes, a couple of these artists were exceptional, others were reasonably mediocre (though none were terrible, I must be clear on this).
Added to the bottle-necking between rooms and the questionable logistics, I’d say there’s a lot to be ironed out for these events, and perhaps a little more innovation on the design front – but a bigger budget could have really made something special.