Subdub 15th Birthday Pt. 1
Friday 3rd May
The West Indian Centre, Leeds
With many nights across Leeds celebrating anything from their 1st to 5th birthday's, the fact that SUBDUB just celebrated it's 15th birthday, goes to show you what a staple of the Leeds - and indeed - the UK bass music scene it is. It certainly puts things in perspective when – as a 19 year old – a club night is almost as old as you.
SUBDUB has a lot more history than your average night, so it was appropriate that for it's anniversary it returned to its roots, The West Indian Centre. It isn't by any means a purpose built club, but that's part of the appeal. It really reminded me of The Boston Arms aka The Dome; where V.I.V.E.K's night: SYSTEM is held. There's nothing fancy, no expensive lights or strobes, just a sound system to write home about and a crowd which is purely there for the music and atmosphere.
For a night to run this long, it's likely it commands a great deal of respect. SUBDUB exhibited this, by playing host in room 2 to the now legendary dubstep imprint that is DMZ . Having been lucky enough to be at the DMZ 8th Birthday in March, I couldn't believe that I'd be able to see some of the night's best acts again so soon after.
Straight off the bat, SUBDUB was going strong. I came into the club to the sounds of Author - the collaboration between Leeds-based producers Ruckspin and Jack Sparrow – who contrary to their usual live performance of their soulful take on dubstep, played a massive set, full to the brim of classics and recent big releases. It certainly feels like a DMZ night when you're hearing everything from 26 Basslines to Skeng before the clock strikes 12. Of course, at a night featuring DMZ, you're guaranteed to hear tunes from the genre's root's, but there were also a nice amount of newer and/or more left-field songs played. Ulterior Motive's recent foray into dubstep on Metalheadz – Elephant Tune as well as the instrumental of Ruckspin's collab with Foreign Beggars – Bank Job stood out.
Still, once the clock did hit midnight, it was time for the reason most of the crowd were there; Digital Mystikz b2b with Loefah. 2 hours of vibes from some of the pioneers of the genre. For the sake of being concise, I can't list every song of note, mainly because virtually everything played, warranted a mention. But when you collectively have 3 of the biggest artists in dubstep & bass music playing at once, that's to be expected.
After playing a touch of dub reggae to get the crowd restless, the trio brought in an onslaught of historical songs for a historical night. Loefah's The Goat Stare & Mud, Coki's Spongebob, Mala's Eyez VIP, the list goes on. There were, of course, a load of dubplates on show. One of my favourite moments had to be when Coki brought out Maccas, an over the top track which samples The Macarena (year 8 memories). After reloading it, he cut it just before the drop into another classic track of his: Goblin, creating a frenzy. Another mention has to go to the Skream dubplate – Levitated, which is always a sure bet for setting the crowd off. There was also a good deal of current Deep Medi releases; Swindle's Do the Jazz as well as Silkie's Neckback – one of my favourite tracks. Bok Bok's Silo Pass was another surprise banger, which was swiftly and deservedly – as with so many tracks of the night – pulled up for the reload treatment.
I could go on and on: Poison Dart, Victim Support, Anti War Dub, Sunbeam... however my final mention of the set would have to be for Vodex's Galvanize, which brought back fond memories of Outlook 2012's DMZ stage where, as with SUBDUB, it created a riot. I do however, have to note that there were what sounded like sound issues at certain points, but it was taken in everyone's stride (both the crowd and DJ's), and did virtually nothing to affect the mood.
Following on from a huge set was Youngsta followed by Kahn, with both demonstrating that the night was far from over. Youngsta showed once again why he is considered to be one of the best DJ's in the dubstep scene, Way Mi Defend VIP had to be one of my favourites of his set, however, what has to be potentially my tune of the night (although there are far too many to choose from), had to be Kahn dropping a song which has pretty much already become a classic: The Commodo remix of Mala's Miracles. I had been hoping to finally hear this song on a system that night, so when my prayers were answered it was the final piece of the puzzle. I was actually in the smoking area at the time, but the moment I heard it, I literally ran indoors. There was a silly amount of weight to the track, so to not just hear it, but to feel it vibrating my chest was the icing on the cake.
As the night drew to a close, Zed Bias had seemed to have failed to turn up for the final set. Luckily, Loefah stepped up once again, playing some of his newer material. His so-far unreleased track with Trigga – Western (Did a Skank) was better than I could have hoped having only heard it through radio rips previously. He did a good job of bringing another weighty set, which still set a good vibe for when the night has to (unfortunately) draw to a close.
For the sake of length, I had to leave out a lot of amazing moments. I did manage to get a look into room 1, and, as expected, was impressed by the flagship soundsystem of the night and the nice pace change from all out dubstep. It also served as a reminder of SUBDUB's true roots as well as a big part of dubstep's. But regardless of what I had to cut out, just know that it was definitely – at least for me (and everyone who was there I'm sure) – a night to go down in history. God knows what kind of madness the 20th birthday will bring, but I'm sure, as always, SUBDUB will not disappoint.
Review by Arthur Seaward
Images courtesy of JG Photography