05 December 2005


Toxic crowd

Wow, the final Toxic Dancehall was rammed. When I arrived the queue was spilling out all the way to the main road. This regular event at the Black Swan has obviously built up a huge following and it seems odd that it's all coming to a close now. But at least they went out on a high note, and I'm glad I finally attended, having managed to miss every other one to date! Of course, Toxic is all about the speed-thrill mentalism of breakcore-jungle insanity, which isn't really my thing these days. But I must say I thoroughly enjoyed Monkey Steak's junglist set, especially when they dropped down a gear for some skanky dancehall lockgrooves and occasional bursts of chunky Two-Step aggro. From a visual angle, there's something about the chemistry between Atki2 and Hanumann that makes me chuckle with glee. The way they bob up and down excitedly, occasionally throwing their hands in the air in an almost co-ordinated fashion gives them the appearance of malfunctioning android dancers. It's nothing they've actually planned, just the result of all that enthusiasm and love for what they do. I get a great 'feel good factor' from these guys...now I wanna see 'em doing another sublow set!

The problem with these big two-room multi-events is that it's hard to keep tabs on all the acts you wanna catch. Although I had the pleasure of meeting Drop The Lime, unfortunately I managed to completely miss his set, although I did catch fellow American Mathhead in action after hearing the familiar sound of "Skyjacker" coming through the walls. I featured an earlier version of this tune on GutterFM a few months ago and got some appreciative feedback. He's another artist who's come from breakcore but now incorporating the grimey sounds, of which there was much evidence last night. But the main bulk of his set was still firmly in b'core territory, and he obviously still loves that style cos at one point during a particularly hectic break mash-up he jumped up on the console, gurning like a psychopath, before launching himself onto the dancefloor where he proceeded to writhe around spasmodically like an epileptic for a few moments. Now that's what I call a performance! He was followed by Bong-Ra, but after a few more minutes of 200+ bpm Amen assassination, I'd pretty much had my fill of that style, thanks very much!

I figured it was time to chill out for a bit, but then bumped into Atki2 who informed me that I simply had to head upstairs to the second room and check out this guy called RLF. Never one to miss a good tip-off, I quickly made my way up to catch the last 20 minutes of his set. I immediately recognised the bearded figure of Mr. RLF, because he used to serve me regularly at Imperial Music, one of the best independent record shops in Bristol, before it tragically closed down over a year ago. He's now producing some very impressive beats, keeping it simple but intense, with some heavyweight sublow basslines and fierce metallic percussion sounds. But again, it was his performance that I found most striking. For a start he was playing live trombone over most of the tracks with occasional warbles from a Theremin, which he would wave his hand in front of when the mood took him. Then there was the way he said 'thank you very much' whenever the crowd cheered. The personal touch. I like that. He's currently unsigned but I managed to collar him for a brief chat and thankfully he knew who I was and said he'd sort out me out with a cd-r. Looking forward to that!

RLF was followed by Vex'd (well, one of them anyway). As soon as Jamie hit the decks I remembered why I'm such a dubstep head this year. Totally head and shoulders above anything else on the fucking menu, Jamie was reppin' the sound hard, spinning not just his own compositions but also some deadly dubs from Loefah, Skream, Distance, Wiley etc...it was fucking spiritually intense, maaaan. Everyone was shocking out to the vibes, including Pinch and, I noticed, young Mathhead - soaking up the vibrations and getting deep down and murky. Yes yes YES...this is what I'm all about. The weight, the space, the emotional intensity...Jamie's the fuckin' man. By the way, he had a famous fan in tow - Radio 1's Marie Ann Hobbs! I was introduced, and she was absolutely lovely.

Unfortunately I didn't manage to make it to the end of Jamie's set, due to what can only be described as 'a funny turn'. I swear I'd only had a couple of Red Stripes but suddenly I got all dizzy and nueseous and had to get outside to the garden area for some air...and promptly threw-up, although I did it quite discreetly into an empty pint glass. Felt slightly better afterwards, but realised I needed to get home fast. Pathetic or what? Maybe I really am getting too old for this shit?!!