13 February 2006


Mala from Stage

Another month, another Dubloaded, and I just can't get enough! Anticipation was particularly high this time owing to the Digital Mystikz headlining and I made sure I got there earlier than normal for fear of being locked-out! I wandered into the back room to check out Stealth, warming the room up in fine style with a solid selection of dubstep standards, although at that point the brand new 'High Pressure Sound System' was clearly in need of some adjustments, as there was a big hole in the sound and the treble was almost non-existent (yeah, I know its all about bass weight, but I like my high frequencies pretty sharp too!). Not to panic though, as Mr. Pinch was on hand to fine-tune the beast, and before long full frequency range was achieved. By the time Stealth was finished, a respectable crowd had already gathered and the vibes were, as always, good natured . Mrs Gutta worries about me going out to these strange clubs, but as I keep telling her, the sort of clubs I'm going to are for groovy people who just wanna hear some good music and make friends. No fucking attitudes, no idiots looking for trouble...just a bunch of mellow bass-addicts looking for their low-end fix. Its kinda beautiful, maaaan...

Bubonic - shocking out proud

Next to step-up to the decks was Pete Bubonic , who also records as Forsaken (you might've heard a couple of his tunes on GutterFM). He's got a little website here, where you can listen to some of his productions. I've known Pete for a few months now, but this was the first time I'd seen him live in action and was suitably impressed with his energetic performance. Pete's one of those guys who doesn't hold back - jumping around, grimacing and gesturing wildly - the sort of unbridled enthusiasm that is very infectious. About four tracks in he dropped Jammer's Grime anthem "Murkle Man" (which, funnily enough, I'd purchased myself at Rooted earlier that day) and you could feel this wave of electricity flowing through the crowd. I reckon Pete peaked too early there...he should've saved that one for later, or maybe kept it grimey for another 20 minutes or so. "Murkleman" delivered a massive adrenalin rush, but then there was no follow-up! This makes me ever more convinced that dubstep 'needs' grime (and grime needs dubstep too, of course) to provide a sense of pace over the course of an evening's entertainment. There wasn't really any other grime represented last night (Blazey was in the building, but only as a spectator) and I missed it, y'know? But regardless of that, Pete's set was thoroughly entertaining and I'm looking forward to seeing him play out again.

DJ Pinch - The Man Machine

By sharp contrast to Pete's hyperactive, emotional performance, our host DJ Pinch was a fucking machine. Kicking off with his remix of Atki2's "Guilty Pleasures", Pinch dropped his immaculate dubplate selection with clinical precision; cool, assured, chain smoking, with barely a flicker of emotion apart from the occasional grin when the crowd begged for a rewind. Hard to believe that he was making it up as he went along. Don't ask me what half the tunes were. Fuck knows. You'll notice in the above pic that he doesn't even have labels on his dubplates, so no chance of having a sneaky peak there either. He definitely played the VIP mix of "Qawwali", which should be released on Planet Mu next month, and I'm pretty certain I heard an Omen track that's coming out on N-Type's Terrain imprint soon and a few other vaguely familiar sounds, but to be honest I'm terrible with keeping track of the dubplates. I should be making notes, but ID'ing dubs is something for people with more time on their hands than me. An amusing aside: during Pinch's set the Digital Mystikz were waiting in the wings and I noticed that Coki and Sgt. Pokes were pissing about with a Kaoss Pad, adding live bleeps, bloops and Theremin-like warbles over the top. Pokes seemed quite familiar with the Kaoss Pad's controls and was showing Coki how to use it. Coki in turn seemed fascinated with the thing, a child-like grin of wonder spread across his face as his fingers swept across the Pad's touch-sensitive interface and another weird burbling oscillator tone echoe'd out across the room. Could this be the start of a new craze in dubstep? Live improvised electronic waveforms? Ha! Why not? Bring it on...

Sgt. Pokes
Sgt. Pokes - pausing for thought

Fiddling with the Kaoss Pad seemed to be Coki's sole contribution to the evening (apart from briefly filling-in for Pokes on the mic at one point, plus I heard a lovely little dub with a very "Officer"-like keyboard skank that suggested his sure hand on the production buttons), but I gather he doesn't really play out much. When I asked him if he enjoyed the New York gig he said that he didn't go. When I asked him why, he said simply "I wasn't invited". I guess the Dub Wars organisers couldn't justify the expense of an extra plane ticket for the non-DJing Mystik. So that meant that the final hour of Dubloaded was left in the capable hands of Mala, who delivered the sort of deep, spiritual set we've come to expect from the dreadlocked Mystik. Yes, he played that wicked remix of "Request Line", plus loads of other stuff that I barely knew. There was one track with a straight 4/4 909 kick drum running through it that led my photographer Jack (by that point a bit worse for wear on the Guinness) to start babbling excitedly about dubstep being the perfect marriage of classic techno, garage and dub reggae, which made total sense at the time - in fact I'm sure I must've said something similar in the past.

Mala - meditating on bass weight

Then at 2am it was all over. I think there must've been the inevitable party somewhere else afterwards, but as usual I ducked-out early to get home for some urgently required sleep. Personally, I think a 2 o'clock finish is perfect for a night out. I really can't deal with these all-nighters. Interestingly, I often hear reports of big raves like DMZ being practically deserted during the final couple of hours, so I guess I'm not the only one who struggles with the late bashes. When you think about, a 6am finish is for people running on ecstasy or Cocaine time, but most of the people I see at dubstep nights are operating firmly on beer 'n' spliff time. They tend to wanna fall over by 3-4am. Dubsteppers (and dad-bloggers) need their sleep!

Bristol Dub Souljahs

Special mention for the two old geezers I spotted skankin' to the Mystikz. I swear they must've been in the 50-60 age bracket, either that or they'd done some seriously hard partying in their time. 'Nuff respect and thanks for making me feel like a young person by comparison. Shout-outs to all the regulars in attendance (Delsa, Atki2, Appleblim, Wedge and the Bath massif, ThinKing and Kid Kut...), and to Dub Boy and the Heatwave crew running t'ings in the front bar. It was quite 'blokey' this time...I didn't spot quite so many ladies winding their waists as usual, although there were still quite a few there (another special mention for the brunette who staggered up to me and Sam and started babbling incoherently - the only bit I could understand was "god, I am soooo pissed...") Hello to Mike, the guy who's in the process of making a visual documentary on the Bristol dubstep scene - looking forward to seeing that when its finished - and also Joe(?), the guy reppin' from C90 in Sheffield. Nice to meet ya!

Gutta & Pinch

Lastly, extra special thanks to Jack for doing the business with the camera work. He's already been paid his commission - one pint of Guinness - which will hopefully encourage him to do it again sometime! Not so sure about the above pic, though - Gutta caught unawares hangin' out with Pinch. God, I look awful in profile, and I'm sure I used to have a nice strong jaw line. Where the fuck did it go? I think I need to lay off the pies! As for next month's Dubloaded line-up... hold-tight and all will be revealed...

PS. A few more of Jack's pics here.