Monday, September 04, 2006

DMZ, Mass, London, 2.9.06

The last time I was at DMZ, in March, was the night they switched to a bigger venue half-way through, which just could not be more symbolic. Everything was unstable then: even dubstep's kingpins had underestimated how fast the virus was spreading. Six months later, though, the infection is endemic - if you're susceptible, you're probably already suffering. The scene's settled down. No more shock of the new, no more new blood.

Still, great night. At one point Sergeant Pokes shouted to the 'quintuple crew'. At the time I had no idea what he meant, but it turns out that, unbelievably, DMZ was the fifth London dubstep events in three days: on Thursday there were nights at Redstar and Plastic People, and on Friday at Blackmarket and Plastic People again. So now you've got options, but the bass weight is still the most crushing at DMZ. For most of it I stood next to the speakers at the back and had my uvula undulated as never before. DMZ's found a (hopefully permanent) home in the second largest of St. Matthew's three spaces, which is, Goldilocks-style, just right: small enough that it never feels empty, big enough that you don't get fat queues all night.

Pinch, Digital Mystikz, Loefah and Youngsta all played predictably tight sets. Mystikz and Loefah B2B did the most for me simply because it was the least homogenous - quite a few vocal samples and conga lines and 4/4 kicks. I realise that even in the standard half-step plodders there's lots of baroque sound design, but most of that's lost when you're a foot from the speaker. Plus, is Skream the only producer these days making tunes that actually have tunes?

I'm reminded of eighties metal. Back then, nothing really mattered except the riff. It was like everyone was trying to find the Ultimate Supreme Perfect Riff. What would have happened if they'd actually found it? Maybe everyone would just have packed up and gone home. (Not an easy task when your drummer has a kit the size of a tire factory.) And sometimes it seems like dubstep's locked into a similar futile competition, except here people are using Cubase instead of electric guitars. And, guys, really, there's only so many things you can do with a square wave. At the rate that dubstep 12"s are coming out at the moment, they may have used up every possible bass line by about 2008, and what then?

No comments: