Contact Leeds with Youngsta, Icicle, J:Kenzo, VIVEK, Skeptical, Commodo, Nomine, SP:MC & More
Saturday 1st February
Vox Warehouse, Leeds
With a lineup to make some of the ridiculous events Londoners are spoilt with on a regular basis look lukewarm, it was no wonder why people were travelling from all over the UK, specifically for the experience that was Contact’s Leeds debut. Whether it was Manchester, London, Birmingham or even further afield, last Saturday was certainly not a local-only affair. But with the promise of some of Dubstep’s biggest contemporary and classic names combined with a soundsystem worthy of their tunes, who could say no?
Vox Warehouse has, for a while now, been home to nights along the same lines as Contact: Subdub being the most obvious example (which Youngsta has often graced the decks at). As a result it fitted the vibe people expected perfectly, with minimal, moody green lighting that was only present behind the ridiculous soundsystem at the front. The speakers in question were some of Void’s Incubus speaker stacks, which already have a reputation that is starting to overshadow some of the most well known institutions in club and festival audio such as Funktion One. It was my first time hearing them and considering Contact has been quite spoilt already in terms of speakers – having already played host to the legendary RC1 Soundsystem – I had high hopes. Thankfully (although I would have been shocked if this hadn’t been the case) they excelled my expectations with wonderfully warm bass, filling the room regardless of where you were standing. At nights like this, the soundsystem really is the glue that holds everything together. Even the best lineups won’t sound good over a budget club setup, but considering Contact is Youngsta’s own project, it would be shamefully out of character if he were to let his own night’s audio fall short.
Due to some incredibly frustrating cab companies, I arrived at Contact just after J:Kenzo’s set which I was gutted to miss out on. I’m sure he smashed it as always and after overhearing a few conversations in the smoking area; I grew steadily more envious of those lucky enough to be there. However I had to cut my losses and get right in there for VIVEK.
VIVEK wasted no time and presented an hour of his trademark mix of minimal, roots and tribal sounds which have come to characterize his sets at his own night SYSTEM. Goth–Trad’s “Sunbeam”, Skream’s “The Shinein” as well as some of VIVEK’s own productions such as “Against the Tide”, “Sirens” and “Soundman VIP” were all a treat to hear out in that kind of atmosphere alongside likeminded people, not to mention on vinyl. He also brought some exclusive tracks to the table that very few people in the world are able to play: Kromestar’s “Mere Sher” was an instant reload (and rightly so), with it’s trademark Lion’s roar samples reverberating off the ceiling and some of LAS’s dubplates made an appearance, foreshadowing the forthcoming LAS & Gantz EP due on VIVEK’s label SYSTEM Music.
Next up with barely any time to catch your breath was man-of-the-night Youngsta. Regardless of what kind of Dubstep you like, no one can deny his legendary skill on the decks. SP:MC who was on hosting duties that night was calling Youngsta the “Human Metronome” over the mic; a description which is hard to disagree with. Every mix was exactly on point, almost to the degree where I took it for granted and forgot the mistakes that DJ’s are often prone to make. His set had an unrelenting dark, weighty vibe, as is Youngsta’s style with a tracklist full to the brim of dubplates and exclusive VIP’s that I struggled to identify at the pace they came through. However that is part of the fun of seeing him play out: you never know what you might hear, only that it won’t be something you can just “Shazam” on your phone or ask your “in-the-know” mate for an track ID. I did however manage to identify a few of his selection: Proxima’s unreleased track “Trapped” (which I was hoping to get a chance to finally hear) set the crowd off, Kaiju’s “Hunter VIP” and Youngsta’s own track “Destruction” all met similar results, but to be honest, when has a set by the man with a reputation as the “Best DJ in Dubstep” done anything else?
Following on at 3am till 4, Commodo took to the front. A producer who has everyone excited at the moment; he was my personal high point of the night (although this is down to personal preference, since every set was a contender). With a collection of unreleased tracks from his own computer as well as his fellow producers’ that would have any Dubstep fan frothing at the mouth, it was no wonder why his sets have already garnered a reputation for tearing up dancefloors lucky enough to have him. His tracks “Hyperreal”, “Fuck Mountain” and of course his remix of “Miracles” were some of my favourite memories of the night, not to mention “Good Grief” and his “Free Focus” remix. He also played some bangers that weren’t necessarily along the dark vibe that had taken priority in a lot of the night’s sets, such as Joker & Jakes’ “3K Lane” which provided an awesome contrast and gave the track even more impact and presence in the room. To be perfectly honest, there were too many tracks for me to list here (Gantz’s “Spry Sinister”, Kahn’s “Fierce” & “Over Deh So” and Benga’s “Flame” all deserve a mention at least), but that’s the kind of set it was: Full of tracks which, on their own would often be highlights at a more ordinary night.
Icicle rounded off the night with some 140, which developed into Drum and Bass of the same vibe towards the end, providing a nice intro for Skeptical to follow on from in a similar manner. Both DJ’s like everyone else before them killed it, with Icicle’s surgical mixing reminding everyone why he is so respected by Dubstep and DnB fans alike. Skeptical, not to be outdone, brought his brooding dark style of Drum and Bass to the fray which felt interesting yet compatible with an almost completely 140bpm based night. I’d love to list even more songs (for instance when Icicle dropped the Distance remix of Pinch’s “Swish”) but as you have probably gathered from the rest of this review, the whole night had too many highlights to categorically compile and it is not an easy job to pick and choose what is worth mentioning, given that almost every track had its own case to be made. But that at least should give you an idea of the kind of event it was; where as a reviewer the hardest part is to separate the amazing from the basically-just-as-amazing. To be honest, the only way to be able to get a real scope of it is to go experience it for yourself and trust me: You won’t regret it.
Review by Arthur Seaward
Images courtesy of JG Photography