So, at the beginning of September my girlfriend Sara and I went to Washington D.C. and I foolishly left our iPods on the car…needless to say they were both stolen. 100gb of incredible wonderful and beautiful music that I love and painstakingly added from CD’s, tapes, and records so that I could…
Can you feel it? There’s a charge in the air, electricity of the soul. It permeates everything, from the hazy glow of the lights dangling from the drooping trees to the sounds of the music blasting through the summer night.
There is nothing like this. A hundred voices, one in the moment. This is what he lives for.
He walks into the clearing, serotonin burning a hole in his heart and in his brain, dopamine rushes through his veins, his heart and mind racing. Arms outstretched, catlike in his ecstasy, he pads forward and launches himself into the dance.
Only the music matters, the bass is his god now and the sound system is his temple. There is something tribal about the connection between people and music, an affinity for the beat of the drum that goes beyond conscious thought. He is in this state; he is one with the music. He is the beat and the beat is him as he travels on this cosmic voyage through his chemical consciousness.
There are other travellers too, floating about in this sea of souls. Brothers of experience, they share a state of mind and that is enough to pull them together. This feeling knows no race, no culture, no ages – there is no distinction. Under this feeling, we are all one. He loses himself in the music, dancing is his sacrament. Outward appearances are no matter, ego has been left behind long ago; there is no place for the self-centered here.
But then, as the saying goes, what goes up… must come-down. His brothers are no longer the interstellar companions they once were, the lights glow sickly pale unlike the blazing suns they used to be. Colour drains from the world like water down a plughole.
And, just like that, the feeling is gone.
Tomorrow he will sleep, rest and recover. The day after that he’ll return to his grey life, in grey suburbia with a grey car and a grey suit for his job in a grey building in a grey, concrete city. Soon, only memories of the feeling will remain. And next week?
The 18th of December 2011. A bitterly cold and windy night in the gloomy, grey London suburb of Croydon; as unlikely a time, and place, as you could expect to find some of the international superstars of the Dubstep scene, all together in one place.
The setting for this gathering of dubstep pioneers and leading figures is the dingy, bassy cavern of the Black Sheep Bar. The event that brought them all here? Croydub.
Somewhat of a Mecca for dubstep heads in the UK, and all over Europe (as the rather multinational crowd attested to), Croydub has niche place in the scene, allowing the big djs to play a small, intimate venue where they otherwise might be headlining sold out arena tours (we’re looking at you, Skream).
Organised by legendary micman Sgt Pokes, most of the artists play here for free, as a sort of repayment for the Black Sheep’s role in the founding era of the dubstep scene. Situated a stones throw away from the former site of Big Apple Records, run by no other than Magnetic Man’s Artwork, where Skream and Benga once worked and Hatcha, Plastician, Loefah, Mala and Coki (amongst others) were regular customers, the Black Sheep bar used to host dubstep nights when no other clubs would and played an important role in the developing scene.
So, on this freezing cold and windy Sunday night, many of the key figures of Dubstep’s past, present and future can be seen hanging about the Sheep; whether they are on the line-up or not.
First to grace the DJ Booth was Surge, who played to a pretty quiet bar but still dropped the tunes, playing a good mix of atmospheric, deep bassline dubstep and newer, cutting edge future bass sounds that got the surprisingly heavy duty Sheep soundsystem warmed up nicely.
Next up was Raggs, who dropped a fair few of his own tunes in the mix as well as some heavy duty dubplates from the likes of Mala, Stinkahbehll and Gangoon Dubz.
He was followed smartly by Hijak, brother of headliner Skream, who really got the dancefloor moving with a hi-octane, old school jungle set that brought the crowd back to 1992 with twisted bass and plenty of ragga tinged vocals; even his brother was going mad on the dancefloor during his set! Sights like that are one of the many reasons Croydub has a huge fanbase; there aren’t many other places where the fans can actually have a proper dance with some of their favourite djs.
Following that up-tempo set was Chefal who aptly stepped up to the decks, opening with some classic garage before dropping some big tunes, including some unreleased Coki dubplates alongside some of his collaborations with the other producers here on the night.
After Chefal, it was the turn of the legendary headliner himself; Skream. Dropping one of the best dj sets I have ever personally witnessed (despite staying away of from much of his, classic, old material), he effortlessly switched up the genres, tempos, styles and even eras, dropping everything from early 90’s rave to commercial dubstep like Nero and prototype dubstep 2-step garage by the likes of Zed Bias and El-B. Switching up in this way, rapidly changing from high pitched pop vocals to deep, dark basslines in smooth transitions, really showed his mastery of the decks and proved to everyone exactly why he is currently one of the biggest lights in the scene.
Closing, with the xKore redux of Flux Pavillion’s chart smashing Bass Cannon, he shouted ‘some people might say I sold out, but this one usually makes people do backflips.’ He might have had to rewind it three times, but eventually he got one and not one person left the dancefloor straight faced and sweat free. That just about says it all.
Given the hard task of following this epic set, you would have forgiven fresh faced 19 year old Dismantle for giving up and playing a safe set of classic tunes but instead he ripped it up, playing a unique and satisfying combo or bouncy pop beats and dirty basslines as well some of his recent underground smashes like ‘Last Line’ and the huge ‘Computation’. His set saw barely anyone leave the dancefloor, and showed why he is definitely one to watch on the UK bass music scene for the next few years.
Last on the decks was Kutz, who missed last year because it was birthday (as Pokes gleefully informed the crowd), showing no intent of winding the night down calmly, dropping some big tunes and crazy beats. Also, replacing Pokes on the mic for his set was one half of Stinkabehll, Janset, who dropped bombs on the mic as usual.
All in all, it was a fantastic night. Less busy than other Croydubs in the past (probably due to the weather and the lack of Bank Holiday on the Monday after) this only added to the warm, inviting and intimate atmosphere with many of the leading figures of the scene able to relax and have a good time in the comfort of their own backyard and the presence of their fellows and fans.
Without pretentions, or anything other than fantastically ravey vibe, Croydub went off without a hitch and I don’t think I’d be exaggerating when I say every single fan left the Black Sheep Bar happy that they had witnessed something special.