14 March 2006


Okay, let's get the 'Me' stuff out of the way first. I arrived at this month's Dubloaded early, in order to down a couple of beers to steady the nerves and also to get a chance to play around with the cd decks, cos I was determined to overcome my irrational fear of them this time. Yes, they look a bit complicated and even in 'scratch' mode they feel a bit different to the real thing, but I did use them; only a couple of times during the set proper but it's a start (as an aside, I must mention that yesterday I won a little entry-level Numark Axis 2 on e-bay for a very reasonable price, though Mrs Gutta is paying for it as a birthday present. I'm hoping that having this at home to practice with will give me a bit more confidence for future(?) gigs. Actually, if I ever got to the point where I was playing out on a really regular basis, it might give me the justification to go to the expense of cutting vinyl dubplates at Henry's Dubstudio. Something to aspire to perhaps, but for now I just wanna gain some basic proficiency with cd-r mixing). It's hard to review your own performance without being ultra-critical or sounding like a big head, but I think it was definitely my best show so far. This was almost certainly helped by the fact that I'd actually planned the set in advance and had all the tunes I wanted to play lined-up in order. Maybe that's what all good djs do, but for previous gigs I'd just turned up with a bunch of records and hoped for the best. I wouldn't say it was a flawless performance by any stretch - there were plenty of mishaps, though nothing that I'd call an outright disaster , just a bit sloppy. But there were some really nice bits too, where everything came together the way I'd planned in 'rehearsals'. All I can say is that the feedback was positive afterwards. Even ThinKing (a man with notoriously high standards) had to concede that there were 'moments of brilliance'. I even managed to keep my cool when I noticed mid-set that the London crew had arrived and were stood in the wings checking me out. Not just N-Type and Benga, but a little posse including Chef, who reckoned I did a good set (you get that? Fucking Chef from RinseFM said I was good - how unbelievably cool is that?!). Weirdest moment of the night (maybe even the year) was when I was spinning Skream's "Glamma". I felt a tap on my shoulder and a cockney voice in my ear saying something about the treble being a bit toppy. I turn around and it's none-other than Skream himself! I had no idea he was coming down for the event and was a bit surprised to say the least. How the hell I managed to keep going under such heavyweight scrutiny I'll never know. For my own reference, here's my set-list from the night:

Pinch - Qawwali (Planet Mu), Wedge - Overfiend (dub), Forsaken - Thunder (dub), Boxcutter - Gave Dub (Planet Mu), Cyrus - Bounty (Tectonic), Skuba - Sleepa (Hotflush), L-Wiz - Habibi (Dub Police), Skream - Affekz Rmx (white), Boxcutter - Chiral (dub), Loefah & Skream - Fearless (Tectonic), Skream - Traitor (Ital), Wizzbit - Oldskool (Road), Plasticman - White Gloves (Soulja), Hindsy D - Target (white), Spooky - Joyride instrumental (Slew Dem), Jon E. Cash - Cash Beat (Black Ops), Agent X - Killahertz [Alias rmx] (Heatseeker), Emalkay - Road Grit (Morphic Sounds), Mr Keaz - Dub (Southside), General L.O.K. - Instrumental (Total Package), Footsie - Dirtee Skankin (Dirtee Stank), Tubby & Footsie - It's War (white), Waifer - Shower Hour (Slew Dem), Digital Mystikz - Haunted (DMZ), Loefah - The Goat Stare (DMZ), Skream - Glamma (Tempa), Search & Destroy - Candyfloss [Loefah Rmx] (Hotflush), Pinch - Qawwali V.I.P.(Planet Mu)

You'll probably notice it started dubstep, then into a few 'oldies', followed by a grime selection and finishing with some of the biggest recent dubstep releases. The important thing is that I enjoyed myself, and I hope all those who came down early enough got some entertainment value out of it too. My djing diary is now empty. Looking forward to the next opportunity to play out...

Next on the decks was Headhunter, armed and dangerous with a whole hour's worth of Bristolian dubplate weapons, assembled from a small but deadly collective of local producers known as the H.E.N.C.H. crew: Headhunter himself along with White Boi, J@kes and new member Wedge (of Dark FM infamy, reppin' from neighbouring city Bath). I also got to meet the fifth member, a female MC called Scorpio. As Headhunter stepped-up to take over from me, I noticed he was looking a bit...er...worried, and probably with good reason. Although he has quite a bit of experience on local pirate radio, this was his first performance in front of a live audience! By this point the room was starting look busy, and with Skream, N-Type, Benga and Chef in the crowd, he had every right to feel a bit nervous. Thankfully he had the support of J@kes , who is not only a badboy producer, but also a brilliant MC (apparently he's no slouch on the decks either - the man's just bursting with talent!). Although I think this was his first time hosting a dubstep night, he's obviously very experienced, oozing confidence and authority from every pore. His presence on stage really lifted the vibe and I'm sure this party made his reputation as the MC for Bristol's dubstep scene. He's our Sgt. Pokes and Crazy-D rolled into one. Like them, he knows how to pump-up the crowd without ever obscuring the sonics and it was a real pleasure to watch him at work. But as I said, he knows a bit about production too and when Headhunter dropped his totally out-off-control "V3.09" I was up on the stage demanding a reload. That tune's got the maddest bassline and weird '80s-style drum fills and I can't get enough of it. Headhunter also found space to represent the Grim side of the equation, with Atki2's hyper-edited"Sweaty Dub" making a surprise appearance. When Headhunter dropped his own gorgeous "Sleepwalker", I could see that N-Type was visibly impressed, and I couldn't help but feel a certain smug satisfaction that I was in possession of an exclusive tune that he didn't have yet! I think the London crew were all enjoying the Bristol vibes; Headhunter tells me that Skream gave him the thumbs-up afterwards, which is some serious vindication! My sense of civic pride is at an all-time high. Watch out world: HENCH crew coming though!!!

The final two hours was left in the masterful hands of N-Type back-to-back with Benga who, despite being responsible from some of the early Big Apple classics, has been virtually invisible for the past year or so. You might've heard some of his latest dubs on N-Type's RinseFM show, but as a dj he's an unknown quantity - at least for us West Country yokels. Suffice to say his deck skills are as impressive as his afro haircut, and between them they proceeded to tear the fucking room apart with a mind-shattering dubplate selection of epic proportions. Seriously, I wanted to get to the bar for a drink but didn't dare leave the room cos I couldn't bare to miss any of it. That's the nature of dubplate culture: they might play some really amazing tune, like "Ten Times Heavier" (a collaboration between Benga and Hatcha, apparently), that you might not get to hear again for months, or maybe ever. It was a relentless flow of crucial riddims, sick basslines and exclusive vibes that gave me the feeling that, right now, the creative possibilities of dubstep are expanding out into infinity. For every tune that gets released there must be at least another fifty circulating on dub, often with just microscopic variations on a theme - but that's half the point: the dubstep blueprint needs to be thoroughly rinsed from every possible angle. Every twist and turn needs to be examined, analysed, tweaked, adjusted, mixed and remixed and I can't imagine how this creative river will ever run dry. Stood there in the audience, I knew I was listening to the best shit ever, happy to be young enough to experience this music unfolding before my eyes and ears, knowing that I was in the middle of something that will hold such a special place in my heart for the rest of my days. Life doesn't get much better than that, right?

Surprisingly for such an exclusive set, N-Type played "Midnight Request Line" (the original, not a remix) to rapturous response. Will that tune ever die?! We were also treated to Skream's "0800 dub" which he reliably informed me will be on "Skreamisms Vol.2", released at the end of this month, plus he's got an album coming in June. Then there was D1's "Cocaine" and loads of other tunes I vaguely recognised, like that one with the really strange snare drum placement, creating a weird lurching riddim that you had to readjust your body clock to dance to. But when you were locked into that groove it was impossible to get back out again!

A sure sign of a great night is when everybody, including the djs, doesn't want it to stop. At 2pm the management called time on the proceedings but we were all gagging for more. Even J@kes, having by this point hosted for three hours solid, was still whipping the crowd into a frenzy - the guy must be running on Duracells! N-Type pulled out some tunes from a new South London producer he'd recently discovered (these beats were so new he hadn't even cut dubs yet). I showed him how to load up the cd deck and he started teasing us with snatches of sound, but by that point it was made very clear that the evening was over, so we never got to hear that one properly. As N-Type started packing up his things I deftly ejected the cd-r and held it in my hand. Now, I've never stolen anything in my life but I was mighty tempted to do a runner with that disc! But no, Honest Gutta handed it back to it's rightful owner. I'll listen out for it on Rinse. And maybe in a year or so I'll be able to buy it. That's the Way of the Dub.

The party was over, for me at least, although Skream, Chef and crew were all ready for more. The Croydon boys were seriously hyped-up. I suspect chemical enhancement. But as I explained to Chef outside on the street (in blizzard condition weather) I'm 37 years old next week and I need my sleep. At which point he grabbed me and practically screamed in my face "NO FUCKING WAY ARE YOU 37!!" He thought I was about the same age as him (21), which I take as a massive compliment. I think they all went on to some after- party , but I know my limits, so it was goodnight from me! But I've been bathing in the warmth of post-Dubloaded afterglow since then. Next month's party will be headlined by Kode 9, plus Blackdown making his Bristol debut (apparently there were originally plans to put me on the same night as Martin for a sort of 'battle of the bloggers'?!), followed by Subloaded IV on the 29th, the twice-yearly all-nighter featuring Plastician, Digital Mystikz, Loefah, Vex'd, Youngsta, Pinch & Blazey, Headhunter and Joker. Not to mention all the other cool nights coming up. Damn, it's great to live in Bristol right now!

Okay, so you've read me babbling excitedly about Dubloaded for months and, thanks to Jack, you've recently been able to see some of the action. But finally I've got some audio for you, though not very much, I'm afraid. The original plan was to record all of N-Type and Benga's set, but in the end Headhunter's minidisc recorder decided to fuck up, so we just got the last 25 minutes. The sound quality is very good, but there's loads of annoying drop-outs. Sorry, couldn't be helped, technical difficulties and all that, but hopefully you'll still be able to pick up some of the vibe that we've been experiencing on a monthly basis. Feel the dub-luv, kids...

N-TYPE B2B BENGA with MC J@KES (excerpt)

(too late! it's gone!!)


Gutta 1
Early birds catch the Gutta

Gutta 2
Gutta rides the faders

Headhunter 1
Headhunter, watched by J@kes and Pinch

Headhunter 2
Bristol vibes from the Headhunter

Crowd 1
In crowd
(spot the famous faces!)

N-Type & Benga
Benga and N-Type prepare for battle

Master of ceremonies: MC J@kes

N-Type: dub specialist

Benga: faster than a speeding bullet

N-Type 2
N-Type preaching the way of the dub to the congregation

N-Type & Chef
Happiness is a warm Chef

N-Type Benga & Chef
Benga, Chef & N-Type

Crowd 2
Big-up all the ravers who attended. More ladies next time, please!!