In the build-up for one of the biggest electronic music festivals in Europe; Outlook Festival, Sub Faction laid out a star studded line up, consisting of none other than Kahn, Kaiju and master MC; Flowdan, to help get the spirits high, filling the crowd with the festival vibes. Following on from the Outlook Festival Launch Party, which featured Kryptic Minds, Icicle and Commodo, the Sub Faction collective set themselves an even greater target and set their sights high to bring just as big names to Stoke once again. Although the Outlook Launch held so much more precedence, this line up in my opinion is the best to date and held great significance to me personally. From when Sub Faction first began and names were being drafted into place, I murmured my love for Kaiju and my desire to see them visit Stoke. I knew this was a mutual feeling between myself and the Sub Faction boys, which made it all the more meaningful when they revealed that the dynamic duo would be visiting my home town. Not to mention the fact they brought one of the biggest talents in the dubstep/grime scene at the minute, in the form of Kahn and finally, to add the icing on the cake, they managed to land Flowdan to accompany both acts and deliver a sucker punch direct on the mic. With the stage set, the night could only unravel in one way, one that was going to plant itself in the history books for Sub Faction.
To kick the night off, the regular residents took to the decks, ready to engage the incoming crowd with a selection of genres. First up was Blinkka, unravelling one of his well-known drum and bass sets, filled with dance floor energy and numerous vicious sounding tracks. It’s always an enjoyable addition on a dubstep centred night, to have a slightly differed warm up to deviate away from the natural tone of the night, which this set certainly delivered. Next up was Smokes, followed by Anwha; both setting the vibe with minimalistic sets, forming a concrete base for Kaiju to plant upon. The pair gave the crowd a delightful sample of some of the unreleased material they have collected between them and a sneak peek into the type of set they’d play at Outlook Festival the following week. These three sets as per were fundamental in giving the perfect warming to the crowd, ensuring everyone had that Sub Faction vibe set in their minds.
The clock struck 1am and up stepped Kaiju. This set was the one I was looking forward to the most, due to my absolute admiration for the work these two have implemented into the scene recently. I had previously seen them in Leeds at Osiris Subdub, where the duo displayed their dynamic mixing ability and managed to play every single track I wanted to hear. Their set that night was easily what I had expected, if not more, which birthed me with even more excitement and anticipation for their debut performance in Stoke. Since that night in Leeds, the pair has further extended their backlog of dubs, spending even more time in the studio to create additional ground-breaking sounds. They of course played their ‘Hunter VIP’ and their refix of ‘Cay’s Crays’ by Fat Freddy’s Drop (Digital Mystikz Remix) which were two of my personal favourites from the set. Moving through the set they also managed to slot in their brilliant bootleg of ‘Pulp Fiction’ by Alex Reece, which really set the dance floor stepping. Also with the addition of Flowdan, it brought an entirely different vibe to the set, with his acute bars over the tracks and his ease to get the crowd on the perfect level throughout.
Next up was the mastermind of Bristol, Kahn. It was a pleasure to have him down to top the night off and spearhead what was an already monstrous line-up. Although Kahn’s original base of music harbours in dubstep, he has recently began to branch away into the realms of grime. With his collaborations with Neek, they have been tearing up the grime scene, unleashing some really deadly material. During his set, he orchestrated both of these genres in perfectly, playing his amazing ‘Dread VIP’, bringing out the dubby vibes in the entire crowd. Of course hearing ‘Badman City’ with Flowdan over the top was a special moment. He gave it a personal touch interchanging ‘Badman City’ with ‘Stoke City’. On the grime front, he funnelled out tracks like ‘Karate Kid’ and ‘Chevy VIP’, collectively causing the crowd to erupt in movement to the aggressive sound. Additionally, a little surprise was in store when he dropped his grime remix of ‘Tron’ by Joker, which I assure you, is as massive as it sounds. Overall, his set gave the most variety with the two different genres going back and forth and yet again it was a brilliant addition to have Flowdan on microphone duties.
Finally, following on from the grime coated set from Kahn, Mentok kept the dance alive with a selection of hard hitting tracks, maintaining the top vibe on the dance floor and enticing anyone leaving early, to stay for one last dance. He, like the other residents played a solid set, filled with numerous unreleased tracks (this time of the grime nature), surreptitiously blended together.
It’s difficult to say where the Sub Faction collective go from here. They continue to light Stoke-on-Trent in flames, presenting some of the top artists in the dubstep scene at the current time. Every time they somehow further surprise me, surpassing mine and everyone’s expectations. However, one thing that is such a positive influence in making Sub Faction what it is today is the crowd participation and the sheer fact that regardless of how big or small the night, everyone is in tune with the same vibe and on the same level when the music starts playing. I guarantee that the next night is going to be just as ultimate as this one though. With the collective taking part in a very exclusive tour, there will be plenty more debut sets coming to Stoke from numerous high grade artists. So if you haven’t yet tried out Sub Faction, I strongly suggest you do. The movement is growing; the vibe is unmatched at any other night and I have a good feeling that things can only get bigger from here on in.
Written by Drew Jones