Another smashing time had by all at Dubloaded last night. The venue was at full capacity by 11.30 and the vibe was warm and welcoming as usual. When you first enter the Croft, you're in an earthy but spacious bar area, with a background ambiance of dub and dancehall grooves supplied by the Heatwave djs, just quiet enough so that you can take a time-out, relax by the bar and have a chat with someone without having to shout in their ears. It's only when you walk through into the back room that the serious action takes place. Last night's warm-up was supplied by Dub Boy, spinning another solid set of dancehall thumpers, but interspersed with a bit of vocal grime too. I've been relaxing today with his latest Dancehall mixtape, a little promotional CD given away at the door to early arrivers. Very nice mate, especially when it starts getting a bit 'digi' midway through. Got a tracklist?
Next up was ThinKing (see pic below), who I haven't seen in the decks since Subloaded III. He's definitely getting drawn into an ever darker, sparser world, not too far from the 'pure' dubstep sound, but just left of centre, if you know what I mean. Props for dropping Appleblim's mighty "Cheat I" - first time I've heard it on a system and it sounded monstrous! That's on Skulldisco 002 - in the shops now, kids! ThinKing saved the biggest surprise till last, though. He's recently got hold of some fresh beats from the Toasty Boy and he put them to full effect. Toasty's remix of the old Hotflush tune "Candyfloss" by Search & Destroy was a blinder, followed by "Cold Blooded", which some might recall blew my head off last summer when Toasty played it himself at the Fez Club. When the hell will that get released?! Come to think of it, it seems like ages since the last Toasty release! Where's he been? Apparently he's been a bit busy with other work...y'know, the sort of work that actually pays money. But have no fear he'll be back soon. He's lined up to play at Noir, along with Boxcutter, in the spring. Hurrah!
Then it was the turn of our 'Celebrity Londoner', Random Trio's Cyrus (see pic at top - sorry for the shit mobile phone shots by the way, but I still haven't commissioned an official photographer yet, although Jack has expressed an interest, but wasn't there last night). It's the first time I've seen him in action (he played early at Subloaded II but I was too busy chatting in the bar!). He completely exceeded my expectations - and my expectations were pretty high! His set comprised of his own material, including "Indian Stomp" and "Bounty" from the new Tectonic EP, along with some super dubs from the Digital Mystikz crew that had the crowd in raptures. There's a wonderfully evocative swirl of ambient 'found sounds' in Cyrus' music, a background of reverberated exotica that, as I've said before, seems to connect with some of the later post-punk acts like 23 Skidoo. I wouldn't want to conjure illusions to 'world music' though, it's too dark and weird for that. Strange to think that these delicately tinted splashes of mood and texture are created by someone who looks like a plumber. Actually, Cyrus is a plumber. That's what he does for a living. But as the sample in "Bounty" suggests, he'd really like to make music his living. By the way, I inadvertently discovered the origin of that sample whilst watching telly the other day. It's this American-Asian guy who's become some sort of minor celebrity in the States for his addiction to competing in X-factor-style talent contests, even though he's really crap at singing. Who says dubsteppers don't have a sense of humour?
Speaking of Digital Mystikz, I got to meet the shy and retiring Coki for the first time last night, as he showed up with Loefah . It's weird when you think that last Monday they were ripping it up live on Radio 1, yet here they were just hanging out in the front bar playing a few old dub tunes and chatting with the clientele. It seems that Loefah just really enjoys coming down to Dubloaded. Respect! As usual we had a little natter, but with Loefah there's always that slightly guarded element, cos he likes to keep a few things close to his chest and he knows that I'd just blab about it at the blog. I can't help it. It's part of what makes a blogger tick. We hate withholding information. We like people to know everything that we know; we believe in equal access to all information. Loefah did impart some interesting news 'off the record', but just this once I'm gonna respect his privacy and keep my mouth shut. Should be interesting if he manages to pull it off, though...
The final hour was given over to the local grime boys - my man Blazey, with young up-and-coming dj/producer Joker, fronted by MCs Shadow D, Scarface and Bugsy. Y'know, I love watching these guys at work. There's this slightly ramshackle element, as though it could all fall apart at any second. Blazey's practically tripping over himself with enthusiasm and excitement, the Joker - outwardly cool and collected - still learning his trade, trying out some of his latest beats on the crowd, the MCs, huddled together on the cramped stage, sharing one mic between them, but giving it 100%. And the beats are so raw too. Whenever I watch them it's like Grime's just been invented, really focusing on the most alien sounding extreme elements, without any of the crossover dilution that the big players keep dabbling with. It's a ruff ride, but that's how I like my Grime - pure gutta.
Dubloaded really has the potential to become the FWD>> club of the west country. DJ Pinch has got the format just right, although he may have to start thinking about a bigger venue before long. I feel incredibly lucky to be in Bristol right now. As far as I know it's still the only place outside London where you can experience Dubstep soundsystem pressure on a regular monthly basis. That's all thanks to Pinch, of course, and it's why I nominated him for 'Best Soulja' in the Dubstep awards. I'm doing my best to rep the sound on the internet, but his tireless, financially insecure crusade at street level is really inspiring. That's why I always buy him a pint of Guinness whenever I see him!
Next month's headliners: Digital Mystikz. BRRRAAAAPPPP!!!!