Ducking into FWD>> for the first time was a bit of a pilgrimage for me on Thursday night. From its early days at the Velvet Room and on to Plastic People it proved a home for many of dubstep’s early producers and DJ’s. Blending new dubs back then was a huge part of what made the sound what it is today.
Youngsta, one of the day dot pioneers and veteran of FWD>> was set to return and given the nature of the night and recent sets of his we were interested to hear what he would bring to the table. He was to be backed up by Velvit, AKA D-Bridge, again another huge name, now flexing some darker edged house and techno. Also on the bill were heavyweight Skeptical and newcomer Parris.
Parris eased the crowd in with a stack of white labels fresh from Wen, Beneath and others from the murky grime scene that has built pace over the last year. Although slower, sitting around 130 BPM the minimal sound gets shaken about with amens and echoes of grime bars past. Keysound boss, Blackdown, was in attendance. He has been a strong supporter of this new wave, believing firmly in pushing things forward. For the night, I would say this was the most interesting and ‘FWD’ sound, its lack of drive doesn’t always lend itself to the dancefloor but those dreamy moments between the beats can be really exciting.
Velvit stepped up after Parris. The change in pace was jarring, jumping straight into some 4-to-the-floor pressure but it was welcome as it got the crowd moving.
As with his D-Bridge productions there was plenty of ambience and emotion to dance to but all the while the bass growls kept the darkness firmly knocking at the door. Coming towards Youngsta’s set harder rolling techno was dialed in from Velvit that really fired me up ahead of the onslaught ahead.
It was encouraging to see a strong community still in force. Plenty of people around the venue had stories to tell about recent bass nights and tunes. Floating around the venue was Icicle, among others and before his set it was good to see Youngsta also having a laugh. In a small venue, on a Thursday night the vibe was away from pretention and nonsense you sometimes find on the weekends and filled with friendly people.
I was expecting something a bit different, possibly more left field from Youngsta for this night. Nights like Contact and his minimal Mondays show have been the main outlets for the sound and I was hoping for some more variety. That’s not to say I was disappointed to hear Yunx blend his usual selection of fresh dubs and classics though. Feeding the increasingly hyped crowd with plenty from Proxima, LX One and himself as clearly announced by SP:MC. A few rewinds were forced by a rowdy group; all adding to the atmosphere. Finishing the set with a slower bass drenched tribal number was easily my highlight.
Fresh off the back of sessions with J:Kenzo in the past weeks, Skeptical closed the night with 140 explorations and for me was the most exciting set of the night. There was plenty of new music that carried Skeppys more tech edge. Sharp cutting hats, clicks and stabs that kept the tunes rolling from the top rather than the low end.
This FWD>> was a great showcase of everything low end around the scene right now. Lots of familiar faces and a nice community vibe in a small setting!
Written by Josh Gray