Sub Faction need no introduction from us now, they are securing themselves a reputation as the Stoke representatives of bass music and show absolutely no signs of slowing down. They recently decided to branch into larger events, taking them out of the Basement and bringing crowds to more spacious venues in the Stoke area. Their first new location is the ‘Underground’, a renowned venue in Stoke, and popular with many from their days of visiting gigs or more alternative friday nights out. An aspect they have retained from their time at the basement however is visual expert Jon Marks’ projection displays, which always add a unique aspect to the Sub Faction experience. With even more room to play with, he really went to town and provided excellent aesthetic support for the artists.
The ‘Underground’ was the perfect choice for this month’s line-up; an anti-social special, with Vivek bringing good friends Jay 5ive and Razor Rekta down for a night of varied 140 styles. Support on the night came from a full resident b2b, who warmed up the crowds from 10-11 before the main acts got involved. As usual they provided a mixture of recent tunes and classics which always get everyone in the dancing mood. Unfortunately the license of this venue only allowed for a 10-3 night, which left little room for locals and we only had the single hour of Sub Faction themselves, but this was more than made up for with a special exclusive 2 hour vinyl set from Vivek!
The first act to hit the Grey Noise sound system was Razor Rekta, a man Vivek started out his musical journey with. This was a set I had been excited to hear from the moment I saw the announcement. I last caught Razor at outlook, and his music was a journey through powerful epic synths, to darker more minimal music. This night was much the same, featuring a few of the new Distance and Cyrus pieces, but also new tunes of his own such as ‘Come Dine’, an instant percy for myself. This set was the perfect setup to the main event of the night, and by this point there was quite a crowd.
The new venue was proving to be optimal for the size of crowd they had gathered for this evening, with a reasonable amount of people on the dance floor from start to finish. Grey Noise had been spaced out for this event and was supporting the rig the venue already had in, which created a perfect balance between heavy bass, and clear crisp mids and highs. The audio, despite one small failure of the bass bins, was spot on start to finish and really gave the night the sound it needed.
Second up was Jay 5ive, an artist who I have followed from the beginning of my time with dubstep, but have had few opportunities to see. One song from his hour which deserves a special mention was Mala’s ‘Curfew’ from his recent ‘Mala in Cuba’ album, which is full of unique takes on 140, and this tune is testiment to the variety Jay 5ive provides. He plays a really interesting mixture of more atmospheric styles, with a very unique and powerful sound, a little distance away from the classic dubstep rhythms, but equally as interesting in their own right.
The final set of the night, taking us from 1 til 3 was the main man Vivek, someone who’s made astonishing waves in the scene recently, with his last year featuring the rise and domination of his own night ‘System’. An evening which has raised the bar in event quality and general vibes; something I genuinely did not think was possible since Subdub stopped hosting DMZ and every other club became a crowded over-policed nightmare. Everyone in the crowd was hoping Vivek would bring a little bit of system to Stoke, and he provided brilliantly.
Both hours of his set were an exploration between new and old Vivek, featuring some really interesting dubs I did not know were cut to vinyl! We heard the classic ‘Over My Head’, which always has the crowd screaming. Vivek also played Distances remake of Pinch’s ‘Swish’, a song I have been ranting and raving about since I first heard it, and when played at a decent volume can cause some serious damage, and here it had the crowd bouncing around, a real vibe setter. On the other end of the spectrum he played TMSV’s remix of ‘Dem A Talk’, a song which has been ravished with attempts at recreation, but few reach the atmospheric perfection of Thomas’ redo.
As the night drew to a close, the road outside the venue was packed with smiling faces, and everyone had enjoyed an incident free, exciting night out right on their doorstep, a thing us Stokies don’t often see. It’s fantastic to see people dedicated to bringing such a unique and interesting sound to what is essentially a musically uncultured area. Most nights out are dominated with chart classics, with local ‘DJs’ even slating Sub Faction for having ‘dry’ nights out, and are absolutely ignorant to harmonic exploration or experimentation. Thankfully, there are plenty who appreciate this, and this night proved they have their foot well in the door of musical success.
Next month sees them team up with Outlook Festival, to provide Stoke-On-Trent’s first Outlook Festival launch party, this is not one to miss:
and for general Sub Faction updates check here:
Written By Michael Thomas