Josiah Hartley caught sets from Roni Size & Krust, Diemantle, Sam Binga and more at the showcase.
Last updated: 24th Apr 2017
As the first of four bank holidays in the year, the Easter bank holiday weekend is always an exciting prospect for the raving masses, who are geared up for an extended weekend of partying. With all the attractive events that were on offer across the South West region, Motion nightclub in Bristol was perhaps one of best places to be on Easter Sunday, for what was a bass music extravaganza like no other.
Hosted by Bristol’s SWU.FM radio station – which was launched last May as a means to “Celebrate Bristol Music Culture” - the event was very much a continuation of this ethos and to raise funds to relaunch the station, following its one-month trial broadcast. And proving that the city doesn’t do things by halves when it comes to celebrating their world-famous music underground, the organizers invited 50+ local artists (producers, DJ’s and MC’s) to play – all of whom hosted shows on SWU.FM’s initial airing.
With a mammoth sized bill featuring the likes of Roni Size & Krust, Joker, Pinch, Bandulu Gang and Jus Now, to name but a few, all manner of bass-related styles across the electronic spectrum were on offer; from drum & bass, dubstep and grime through to house, techno and garage.
Considering the quality line-up, the warehouse-style venue - formerly a skate-park, was not completely rammed as one might have expected, but held just the right amount of heads to create a buzzing atmosphere, with the added space to dance and roam around freely. Another bonus was that this allowed attendees to easily dip between rooms without the prolonged hassle of squeezing past a swarm of jolting bodies to catch different DJ sets.
The usual main room was left vacant on the night, instead being used as a junction to access the remaining three kept open; which were the Marble Factory – the largest of the three and a venue in itself that normally hosts live music gigs, the narrow confines of The Tunnel and the smallest room known as The Cave. Not dissimilar to the festival experience or just large capacity nightclubs in general, it was very much a case of prioritising which DJ’s you wanted hear play, in the hope that it didn’t clash with another. For some this proved to be a challenge, but for what it’s worth set times seemed to be reasonably scheduled, in terms of what was an open minded crowd.
Perhaps the most popular room was the Marble Factory, where several memorable highlights took place - with one of the earliest being the masterful set from D&B legends Roni Size and Krust. Taking the midnight slot and aided by MC Carasel, the dynamic duo evoked mass chaos on the dancefloor with uncompromising breakbeat science. Since reviving their seminal Full Cycle label in 2016, Size & Krust have started to regularly play out together for the first time in about fifteen years. And like on this very occasion they’ve owned the crowd every time.
Next up came further antics from Bristol’s dubstep Godfather, Pinch and Bristol garage and grime veteran DJ Blazey, who delivered a riotous B2B set, abundant with neck-snapping grime instrumentals, rolling bassline bangers and weighty dubstep that shuddered the venue’s infrastructure. While MC’s Dread and Shadz hyped up the crowd; who in turn responded with gun-finger salutes and demands for reloads. Hype as ever, the set was also a reunion of sorts for Pinch and Blazey - both of whom are largely responsible for introducing the early sounds of dubstep to Bristol via their fabled Subloaded night. The collaborative efforts of DJ Die and Dismantle aka DieMantle also impressed; setting the tone with their 2015 single 'The Way I Feel', before progressing into old skool ravey vibes and a well-received spate of junglist business.
Elsewhere, plenty of boisterous action also went down in the Tunnel during the night, including the triple B2B stint by tropical riddim favorites Jus Now, Kry Wolf and Monkey Wrench. Assisted by MC Juma, they drew in a sizeable crowd and collectively brought carnival vibes through a selection of UK funky and uptempo afro-rhythms.
Later sets of note came courtesy of Purple sound OG Gemmy, and H.E.N.CH bossman Jakes - also in B2B capacity like the majority of them listed on the bill. The pair went in from the get go with a slew of sinister dubstep cuts and rowdy grime bangers like Sir Spyro’s ‘Topper Top’, that kept the energy levels at a peak on the busy dancefloor. While Sam Binga and Foreign Concept took things back to the old skool, laying down a classic jungle set that featured certified anthems such as Congo Natty’s 'I'm a Junglist’, before the set evolved into darkside territory, where room was free for MC’s Redders and Texas to drop rapid lyrical flames.
A few passing visits to the Cave found a bit more musical variety, where a smaller gathering of clientele seeking a funkier groove over the bassy sounds, enjoyed house sets by the likes of Woz and Sly One. Although this room was sparsely occupied throughout much of the night, it did heavily pick up from time to time, most memorably during sets by Bristol jungle veteran DJ Dazee and rising talent Sherry S.
Back in the Marble Factory the penultimate set – and arguably the best set of the event for many - came courtesy of the Bandulu Gang, who shredded the place to smithereens with their typically raucous selection of killer dubplates. The atmosphere was at fever pitch and tune after tune received multiple rewinds. Even in the small hours, after non-stop body skanking, the restless crowd clearly had plenty left in them. By the time 4:00am arrived the final set of the night was left in the capable hands of the generation-spanning triumvirate - Joker, Mensah and OH91 - who laid down heavy trap-infused grime beats which the Official recordings rap crew lent their energetic mic skills over, to end the night in true Bristol style.
With all proceeds made from the event going towards the relocation of SWU.FM’s studio premises and a relaunch, every punter who turned up was supporting a great communal cause for Bristol. As a big player on the UK musical map it’s about time Bristol had a radio station of its own and dedicated to its thriving underground music scene, so here’s hoping to SWU.FM getting back on the airwaves for good in the not too distant future.