SYSTEM 1st Birthday Review

One of the biggest nights in the UK and perhaps globally in the dubstep scene held its first birthday and as always, it didn’t disappoint. The main thing that sets System apart from most other nights is that it’s so strongly centred on the music and its roots. Held at the Dome in Tufnell Park, London; you feel a sense of unity within the venue which is like no other, and in my opinion, the best type of night is typified with a dark room, lit up momentarily with lighters.

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With only 100 System t-shirts and 15 SYSTEM001 vinyl’s on sale, the whole Spectrum crew were outside the dome at 7.15. Happy to say, the early bird gets the worm and I successfully got them both, from the man himself V.I.V.E.K. The SYSTEM001 vinyl features ‘Asteroids’. With the captivating rework of the track ‘Over My Head Feat. Mel Dymond’. He was also generous enough to include ‘Over My Head Feat. Mel Dymond (Om Unit Remix)’ on the B-side. (exclusive pre-release reviewing coming soon)

The main room is made almost completely from timber, which is sent into a state of vibration when the system is notched up to maximum volume. This delivers perfect acoustics in order to give a premium sound and produce such overwhelmingly clear and crisp bass.

The first 2 hours of System is all about the foundations of dub and reaches back to the origins of the genre. This is the main reason the night exists; to try and bring everyone back to where it all came from, so people can understand and appreciate the roots from which the genre was created. This time, a live saxophone player was involved, displaying the desire to reach back to the roots, adding an instrumental value to all of the sets. It really was enjoyable witnessing the blend of sounds, as he engaged the tracks flowing from the system.

Previously, artists of the calibre of Youngsta and Amit have featured at the night, enabling different styles of the genre to be driven through the overwhelming system. This time V.I.V.E.K invited a collective group of artists which range from the year 2000 right to the present, to show-press all the areas of dubstep from new to old. Benny Ill of Horsepower Records kicked the night off, with Commodo following suit and finally Kromestar tore up the dance floor, before the kingpin himself took centre stage.

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Benny Ill, of Horsepower contributed to the night in the same way that Horsepower has fed into the developing dubstep scene since the year 2000; supplying it with a sound that falls somewhere between dub and garage. As always Benny Ill’s set was individual and exclusive to anything you could find just searching YouTube or listening to your iPod. He produced a much layered sound, including a cultural vibe protruding through an upbeat garage style bass line. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the saxophone player had such an influential role throughout his set which gave it a much more personal feel, encouraging the crowd to get even more involved. A personal favourite track was ‘Gorgon Sound’ which was only the second release on the label Tempa, further highlighting the dose of dub history Benny Ill brought to the night.

The absolute highlight of my night was the next set, from Commodo. Having never seen him play before, the Deep Medi/Black Box artist did not disappoint; delivering devastating drops, forcing the crowd to erupt. After Benny Ill’s set, Commodo supplied a much more futuristic feel, bringing the night back to the more current sounds of the genre, even including some grime instrumentals which had the crowd screaming in excitement. My personal favourites of the set were ‘Hyperreal’ and his astounding remix of Mala’s ‘Miracles’, a rarity which he so kindly treated us to. His set involved a variety of mesmerizing synths and a diverse range of complex drum patterns. If you get the chance to go see this guy play, take the opportunity to, as his sets are flawless, a must see for people into the modern day dubstep.

The next artist to commandeer the decks was Kromestar. Branching away from the previous sets, he brought a whole new element to the night, reaching towards the more tear-out style of dubstep. By this, I don’t mean ‘brostep’ or what dubstep is seen as in the mainstream world; I mean tracks with a similar sound to artists like Coki. Personally, this style is a little much for me, far too brain mashing, as I’m more into the minimalistic side of the genre. However, I certainly don’t speak for the whole crowd, as they were riled up and bouncing from wall to wall during the set. With various tracks from Coki being dropped the system was ruthlessly being pummelled with bass and rigorous sound, getting everyone warmed up and ready for V.I.V.E.K. Despite the main body of this set being in a tear-out style, Kromestar did in fact drop ‘Mersha’ my favourite track of his, also known as ‘Lions Theme’, a bit more militant and heavy weight.

Finally, the guy everyone was waiting for took to centre stage. The transition from Kromestars’ up-tempo set, down to V.I.V.E.K’s dark and earthy sounds was smooth, and the crowd swiftly channelled their excitability into a more minimalistic manner, now spending their energy on attempting to follow the subtle complexity of V.I.V.E.K’s phenomenal work. Following suit from Youngsta’s set last System, he managed to slot in ‘Badman VIP’ by Kryptic Minds, after such a huge response from the crowd the previous time round. My personal favourite of his set, and possibly of the night was ‘Mavado – Neva Believe You (Nanobyte remix)’. During this track I can think of no way to describe the crowd, other than being in a state of complete unity. V.I.V.E.K has never disappointed with any of his live sets that I’ve witnessed, and to this day holds a credible reputation within the dubstep scene.

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System continues to be the best night I’ve ever been to, a title I’m willing to put not only on the birthday, but in fact all of the previous systems as well. Each individual night has been unique, resulting in the un-dwindling desire to continue attending system nights. The hospitable atmosphere is something that is difficult to find elsewhere, along with the sound system itself being impeccable, and the very best artists playing their best sets. If you get the chance to go to system, without a doubt, go!

Massive thanks to Grand Stephenson for the amazing photographs. Be sure to check him out for many more cracking shots.

Written by Drew Jones.

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