Saturday 6th December 2014
West Indian Centre, Leeds
Last time I was at the West Indian Centre, it was for SubDub's huge 15th Birthday weekender. So understandably, I was pretty hyped when the most recent weekender was announced - especially since it gave me a consolation prize for missing the Deep Medi Xmas Skank in London on the same night. While both nights looked amazing, a friend's birthday on the Friday meant that Saturday was my only window of opportunity to get stuck in, and with a line-up boasting some of the best in Dubstep and Grime, it wasn't something I could pass up.
As with my last time at the venue, the night didn't really seem to have a slow point or "build-up". Pretty much from the start the atmosphere was palpable; with Finwa not getting the memo about what constitutes a warm up set: Given he was already dropping tracks like Skream - "Lightning" before the big hand on the clock struck 12. Not that that was a problem of course, but it gives you an idea of the kind of environment we were in, which was especially refreshing, given the current saturation of House and Techno in Leeds (yes, I'm bitter and I still miss 2006).
Personal gripes aside, it was Kromestar who kicked off the headliners' sets at midnight. Hot off his most recent release on VIVEK's label "SYSTEM", which was under so much demand that it crashed their website; it's no wonder why many people (artists and fans alike) have taken to calling him "King Kromestar". Opening his set in his typical way, he started with a host of unreleased material , including, what sounded to me suspiciously like a Kromestar remix or VIP of Quest's "Lost Without You" . He then went on to play pretty much an hour of dubplates ranging from the unidentifiable, to the forthcoming "The Bees" and of course some of his most famous: such as "Gravity", "Monster" (my favourite) and the one and only "Mere Sher VIP" which despite being one of his newer dubs, has already attained legendary status within the community. Alongside the exclusive, he also mixed in plenty of grime (fitting given the rest of the line-up) which when combined with his MC for the hour - Brakeman - made for a nuts set, which at any other night would likely be occurring after 5am. All hail the king.
After Kromestar, it was the one and only Coki: One half of Digital Mystikz - a group whose productions are among the most influential of the genre - as well as a legendary producer in his own right. Coki is generally known for playing one kind of set, and one kind of set only: Straight bass weight (and not the meditative kind). His time behind the decks is usually punctuated by multiple reloads and the trademark reactionary screams from the crowd. Given his presence in the genre from pretty much its "birth", he has some of the most exclusive tracks in the business (a lot of them being his own songs). Of course, all the usual suspects got a play for the most part: "Horrid Henry", "All of a Sudden" and of course "Spongebob". He also found time for some grime, namely "Eskimo" as well as tracks from other producers he often likes to support; such as Vodex's "Satan's Dance".
The next 2 hours were in an interesting format: first, half an hour of Logan Sama unaccompanied, then half an hour with the man himself Big Narstie on mic duties (no intro needed). Riko Dan would have his say on the mic for the following half hour, after which Logan would finish the two hours again unaccompanied . Big Narstie and Riko Dan both respectively smashed their segments, with the whole room shouting their bars right back at them. Riko among others, spat his bars from Wen's "Play Your Corner", while Narstie had the whole room shouting his trademark catchphrases, including (but not limited to): "Gas!", "Bass!" and (of course) "don't...fuck up... the bass!" While Logan managed to cram in so many big tracks, that there were stages where I was struggling to type them into my phone notes at the rate they were getting played : Dizzee's "I Luv U" and "Stop Dat", "Footsie's "1 Spliff", Lethal Bizzle's "Shut Up", the list goes on: "Bluku Bluku", "Rhythm 'n' Gash", "Woo Riddim". It has literally been a task just to choose the songs to mention in this review for the sake of space, since almost every one he played was worthy in some way. In fact, during the last half hour; the MC's were reloading virtually every track he played, and when he protested, they took the measure of holding his arms while they spun them back (much to his annoyance). Although they were getting a bit carried away and I wouldn't necessarily condone doing what they did: It was testament to the atmosphere that perpetuated throughout the night and everyone was lapping it up.
Once again Subdub keeps demonstrating why they've maintained such a consistent and respected presence in Leeds' underground music scene. The nights have never felt samey for me, despite having been to them enough to break double digits. Each night has a character, and while they continue to support new music as well as the old, the only things they don't push to change are the fundamentals of vibes & sound. They also don't seem to be losing any of their steam either, despite it being close to 17 years in the game, and given their calendar appears to have a Deep Medi night on the horizon after New Year's, 2015 for Subdub already looks as promising as ever to me.
Words by Arthur Seaward
Images courtesy of LDPIX