See also: Our Dub Police Tour slideshow
Dub Police Tour ft. Caspa
House of Blues
Better than ... the music at frat parties.
There was a dubstep party in Hollywood Saturday night, and people wearing SpiritHoods (those faux-fur animal hats you see at raves), glow-stick mohawks, and plenty piercings descended on the House of Blues. The Hard Presents event was called the Dub Police Tour and featured five British producers: Matty G (the lone American), The Others, D1, Trolley Snatcha & Subscape, and the headliner, Caspa. All of them played plenty of whomping dubstep.
And you couldn't criticize last night's wobble-bass extravaganza for not being coherent or consistent. All of the DJs who spun are on the same record label, Dub Police, and most of them came up in the London grime and dubstep scenes. They are smarmy fellows who curse in delightfully odd ways, like "This track is fucking mean sick."
The problem I had with the show, besides the ear-bleeding sound levels, was its repetitiveness. I must admit I'm not the biggest fan of dubstep. I prefer my EDM served up more minimally in the style of Claude VonStroke and his Dirtybird crew. And in the car or at home I'm much more likely to jam some Teebs or Nicolas Jaar. I'm not completely adverse to the genre, but Saturday night was five-plus hours of music that all started to blend together into a sonic headache. Every track seemed overly structured around a series of bass drops, that love-it-or-hate-it sound dubstep is known for. The artists fed the crowd wobble-bass almost like a drug -- each drop was like another hit of the head-banging sound. Subscape even made the crowd cheer for him to drop the bass one last time.
EDM culture is all about belonging -- everyone's accepted, everyone can dance and have a good time. But last night, at least, that didn't translate into anything greater than a bunch of really fucked-up people fist-pumping. There was an odd collective mindset at work that made me uncomfortable. When Trolley Snatcha (which is one of the best DJ names ever) told everyone, "Put one finger in the air right fucking now, one fucking finger up," I wanted to say, "No." And when he and his partner Subscape dropped yet another super-heavy section of warped bass, I didn't feel any connection to the music or the people I was listening to it with. It just felt like, "Here we go again."
In fact, one of the producers who played last night, D1, agrees with my thoughts on the genre on some level, though certainly not about his label-mates. "To be honest," he told me after his set, "there's not enough actual music in dubstep these days. There needs be a balance that we should get back to."
He also mentioned, interestingly enough, that dubstep has grown more popular in the United States than in its birthplace, the UK. That's just his opinion, of course, but five British DJs managed to sell out the House of Blues last night to a crowd that clearly appreciated the genre. The crowd was inebriated and smelly (seriously, the place reeked), but when Caspa came on with his fiery light show and loud tracks, they knowingly cheered on the opening thumps of every song. As D1 said, "You've got to give the kids in the crowd who paid to come see you what they want."
All I wanted were some earplugs and a glass of water.
Personal Bias: Obviously, I'm not the biggest dubstep fan.
Random Notebook Dump: A friend and I randomly found our way into the Foundation Room, another club inside the House of Blues, where another DJ was spinning doo-wop classics.
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Overheard in the Crowd: "I used to hold X, man."