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Thursday, October 12, 2006

THE GHOST OF JOHN PEEL LIVES ON: Dubstepping in Clwb Ifor Bach

In Dubstep, vinyl is still king

Two years to the day since the death of the mighty John Peel, and I find myself at an event bringing new music to the ears of Cardiff; Wales’ first ever ‘Dubstep’ night in Clwb Ifor Bach. I am not really sure what ‘Dubstep’ is but I am sure I will have worked it out by the end of the night.

The main thing that attracted us to this night was an appearance by the Powersteppers, who were not headlining, so we made a point of arriving early to make sure we would not miss their set. The early arrival meant we got to listen to some interesting sounds being knocked out by a DJ whose name escapes me (mainly cos I did not have a clue what was going on). Unfortunately for a good while the venue was almost empty, so despite the quality tunes there was not much of an atmosphere.

"'Ere we are lads, this is how it is done!"

Eventually the Powersteppers hit the stage and upped the tempo. Despite having ‘steppers’ in the name, Powersteppers is a strictly dub experience, as opposed to ‘Dubstep’. The Powersteppers can take many forms (see previous post), but tonight it is left to Colin to bring us bleeps and bass to vibrate the top floor of Cardiff’s number one venue. The fact that he is on his own does not deter him from his mission; to shake up and wake up the slowly filling hall. With 15 years as the backbone of Zion Train in his CV, Colin proceeds to show the youngsters that will follow how to dub it up in the 21st Century. As the set goes on the Clwb finally starts to fill up and many head straight to the dance floor… cos sitting down aint really an option. Sadly, the set has to come to an end just as it hits its peak. Definitely should have been higher up the bill!

Its dub Jim, but not as we know it

Then came Pinch, a leading light of the ‘Dubstep’ scene. It is dark and moody, with plenty of bass.. so much so everything is vibrating, tables, chairs, even stomachs… yet somehow the PA manages to cope and the sound never distorts. Starting off slowly the pace builds up to some sort of ‘Industrial Techno’ vibe, but still keeping it dub. I think I might like this new ‘Dub Step’ malarkey, even if I am still not really sure what it is yet.

Mystikz, Digital yet Natural

Then comes Digital Mystikz, the main event of the night. Dub has had something of an adventure over the years, going places many genres fear to tread. These boys now take it to places it has never gone before; places I did not even know existed, dark, deep, tribal places where the subwoofers are ten miles high and the reverb and delay are stuck on maximum. As the set goes on I become more and more confused about what this ‘Dubstep’ is all about, as the tempo and style varies. Many ‘dance’ outfits are capable of knocking out great tunes, but after a while they all blend into one, but the Mystikz are not afraid to try their hand at anything, with each tune bringing something different to the party and they are never in danger of getting stuck in a rut.

I have seen many bands and discovered impressive support bands I had not heard before, but I cannot remember the last time I went to see a support slot and was impressed by the headline act…. especially one that is not a proper live band! Yesterday I had never heard of them but no doubt I will be getting me mits on some of their releases in the near future… together with more ‘Dubstep’, even though I am still not sure what it is. I am sure John Peel would have appreciated it.

Still think Powersteppers should have been higher up the bill though.


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