UKF Bass Culture
8

  • London
  • United Kingdom
  • Alexandra Palace
  • 2011-11-25

The train to Ally Pally and the walk up that big hill were littered with bassheads, most with an air of giddiness punctuating their fast-paced nattering. There was a sense of anticipation about UKF Bass Culture ‘s heavy-hitting line-up. The gargantuan venue sold out weeks in advance and brought together some of the scene’s most well-known crossover acts along with a crafted selection of up-and-coming artists.

There was something for everyone and for me that meant the most filthy bass possible. I found it. Knife Party were the first act to really grab hold of me. The Aussie duo, both members of Pendulum, are an act that lend themselves well to articulations of their sound involving robots doing unsavory things to one another while in the midst of a major malfunction. They sit somewhere in between electro and this crunchy new offshoot of dubstep that has become so polarizing but they’re really neither. The beats were heavy and the tones were dirty and the crowd got down. There has been a sense of excitement around the duo since they debuted this summer in Ibiza and I expect the hype to build.

The Aussie duo, both members of Pendulum, are an act that lend themselves well to articulations of their sound involving robots doing unsavory things to one another while in the midst of a major malfunction.

Leicester’s own precocious talent Gemini was given the unenviable task of performing unannounced directly before Skrillex but I found his music to be really engaging. This kid with a perpetual scowl creates the thinking man’s dubstep – his tracks are well crafted and have a nimble musician’s touch to them. He’s said in interviews that he composes most of his songs, which are undeniably fuzzy and deep and spacy, on a Steinway piano. I imagine his career is going to have the word ‘post-‘ attached to any genre analyses that are leveled in his direction and I mean that in an entirely positive way. He proves that it doesn’t always have to be about having the skin peeled off of your skull by sheer tonal velocity all the time.

In the meantime I got kicked out. I almost got kicked out twice. I was on the phone, minding my own business, as you do, having a cigarette in what I assumed was an appropriate area when a large and rotund, ambiguously ethnic (I can say that because I am the same) man grabbed me by the upper arm and lead me somewhere. I just figured he was leading me to the correct smoking area so I went along like some complicit bovine being led to slaughter. By the time I realised what was going on I was outside the iconic threshold of the Alexandra Palace with a half smoked cigarette and a dumb look on my face. I wasn’t the only one. Props to the dude who told me to keep my head down and let me back in. You are the shit. Later on in the night two security guards picked me out of a crowd, stopped me and discussed between them if either of them had kicked me out earlier. As they were deciding I slipped between them and into the crowd. Fuck you two guys. You are not the shit.

There is a lot of Skrillex hatred in the UK. Lemme try to break down some of the reasons behind this. First off, to the dubstep purists desperately clutching at the underground credibility that they assume comes with their association to the movement: Its over. Dubstep is on the verge of total mainstream exposure and when it happens it is gonna be ugly. There are gonna be dubstep Katy Perry tracks, dubstep coffee mugs, dubstep-flavored chapstick, dubstep lollipops. Dubstep will become so watered down and mainstream that my computer won’t even suggest that ‘dubstep’ is a misspelling.

First off, to the dubstep purists desperately clutching at the underground credibility that they assume comes with their association to the movement: Its over.

And the main reason behind this is because it has finally reached the golden shores of the U.S. Skrillex is the face of American electro and in attaining that status the dubstep label has been pasted directly on his forehead. Whether this appropriation is legitimate or not is worthy of debate but the issue here is that Skrillex has taken something that was patently UK, underground, heavy and grimy, distilled a couple of key elements, doused it in electro, cranked it to eleven and presented it to the world with a pseudo-hipster sheen. In a short period of time it has taken over the world. I get it, I understand why you call it ‘mid-range cack,’ your scene has been bastardised by Yanks (again) and it just doesn’t feel the same, but that said, the man is responsible for some of the most visceral electronic music I have ever heard in my life. He opened with ‘First of the Year,’ which is candidate for track-of-the-year for me, and the crowd went bonkers in time to the skinny white boy nerd from Los Angeles with an unabashedly uncool affiliation to screamy American rock music.

I missed Joker. Yes I am the asshole here, but the man played so early that most everybody was still outside the venue trying to sort out pills. Speaking of, it is a bummer that lives were lost at a music festival but i’m of the opinion that it ain’t a party until somebody kicks it. To all future bassheads, a word of advice: KEEP YOUR SHIT TOGETHER! Hopefully the news doesn’t serve to mar the fact that Bass Culture delivered on its promise of hefty, hefty bass. My ears are still ringing and I couldn’t be happier about it.

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