It was May’s second Bank Holiday. The Sun was shining and (nearly) everyone had a solid 4 days off work, a prime opportunity for some dubsteppy shenanigans. I spent Saturday interviewing one of the most respected new generation producers for this fine publication, so keep your eyes out for that. Sunday night was the big one though. My Facebook feed had been alive for the last few weeks with people up and down the country getting gassed for the heavyweight line-up that SGT Pokes had curated for the tenth anniversary of the legendary Croydub.
I arrived fairly early and went in with the purest intentions of being able to give you a complete overview of the night: providing you the lowdown of who dropped what dubs and when they did it. But it got to 3 o’clock and I had a list so long it was starting to look like a wet dream I once had, so I gave up on that endeavour. I’d recommend just having a look at the line-up instead. Pokes managed to sort out a lineup of incredible b2bs, so it was inevitable that dubs both old and new would be flying all night.
Then I had a bit of a quandary, if I couldn’t give a low down of exactly what happened, what the fuck was I supposed to include in this review? It then struck me to have a look around the crowd. It’s a bit of a cliché to say that the dubstep scene attracts some of the soundest heads around, but this night definitely confirmed this to be true. Not only were the old guard heavily represented in the bookings, they were present in the crowd. I clocked Youngsta, Tunnidge, Squarewave, Quest and even heard rumours of OG heavyweight Scientist enjoying himself somewhere in the sea of sweaty ravers.
The new gen was still present on the line-up, with heavyweight selectors Sicaria Sound and producers Boofy and Hi5Ghost providing the link between old and new, but the crowd was absolutely rammed with the new school from across both the globe and the country. I clocked one half of shitty legends Six Sunsets, Foamplate, various Subtle FM crew, Houston’s Jah Man Surf, Manchester’s Infernal Sounds, Exeter’s Mr Mud, Nottingham’s Reaction and Major Oak amongst many others. The night definitely confirmed the strength of the scene. People had travelled from all over the place to connect over this music we all love so much.
The crowd was, for the most part, made up of likeminded heads vibing off each other with what seemed like minimal chemical stimulation. The energy on the dancefloor showcased everything that’s great about the dubstep scene in my opinion. The venue was rammed but there was still enough space to properly skank out. As a vertically challenged individual I’m accustomed to getting elbows to the face whenever a big riddim gets dropped, but I left with minimal bruising to my facial regions, so can safely say this one qualifies as a great success.
You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Pokes. The b2bs were excellently selected and very creative, reflecting the glory of Croydub’s past. I don’t think there are many people that could ensure a line-up of that quality, and the energy harnessed by the artists was beautiful to behold. Unfortunately, this is where things get a little peak, so if you only want the good I recommend looking away now. The sound was a little disappointing, it has to be said. The clarity was lovely, my ears felt completely fine the next day even after losing my earplugs in the smoking area, but the bass weight just wasn’t there.
Obviously, this is out of the control of Pokes and the venue, with noise complaints becoming an increasingly depressing reality for nights operating within the capital city. It’s got to the point where my raving crew refer to London as the ‘Sonic Catfish’. It’s the city that lures you down with the insane line-ups, only for your crotch to get fondled by an overzealous bouncer and make you realise the clapped out Renault Clio you drove down in had a beefier system. It’s depressing in a way, but there are definitely creative solutions that aren’t being utilised to their full potential at the current moment.
Up and down the country there are promoters of all shapes and sizes who know their area quite well; they know the restaurant owner who’ll pick up the phone and tell the complaining neighbour to piss off because it’s just for one night, they know the club owner who’ll tell their staff to just empty the fridges if the rig is rattling the bottles off and they have solutions to a lot of the sound problems currently facing London. The solutions do exist, and it’s about time we all started looking into them.
No hate to SGT Pokes or any other London promoter, it’s an issue many of us are being confronted with across the country. In terms of the artists booked, vibes generated and dubs played, no one can touch the might of what London city is capable of, and Croydub showed us yet again that it deserves its place in the annals of Dubstep history.