Just got back to Sheffield.
I was one of the first in to DMZ – was great chilling out on the grass ouside beforehand with Boomnoise and the crew – but was one of the last to stagger into the milky six AM light. A serious all-nighter, and I still haven’t slept… But I just had a shower and I’m feeling pretty fucking good.
Of couse, it was a magnificent night. And it was very different to the last DMZ; less rammed but still full, with plenty of space to dance (an sit down – they opened the back bar area which was a very good idea), no bouncer hassle AT ALL this time and no problems with burning (someone’s been reading the Dubstep forum). Most important of all, the crowd was, again, just A1, top notch, offering pure sweetness and love vibes all night and no attitude whatsoever. This is still a precious scene filled with beautiful people. Oh, and the soundsystem was noticeably cleaner and less distorted this time but still with chest-caving power. Most welcome.
Musically, this DMZ was less of an homage to, well, DMZ, and more of a showcase for the other DJs on the scene. However, the biggest tunes of the night (played repeatedly) were all Loefah / Mystikz tunes (Mud, Ruffage, Earth Run Red, Conference etc.) and their set had the best, deepest tunes. But for me the most enjoyable set was from Skream and Hatcha, offering a seemingly endlessly selection of sparkling, bouncy digi / dubstep vibes. I want Dutch Flowerz released NOW (and if you put a female vocal on it, it’ll be a crossover pop smash) – and yes, I am getting a bit obsessed with this tune. But Skream’s stuff is just brilliant right now – I still prefer DMZ gear for deepness, but Skream is rave-tastic.
Youngsta and N-Type were unbelievably good. I thought it possible they might go too minimal but as music, it was both extraordinarily deft and intelligent while also being achingly funky. Yunx played out of his skin, dropping very deep meditational gear with lots of long drawn-out house-style mixes and flips – every tiny EQ flick and shift having maximum impact. Sometimes he took it just a little too deep and lost focus but then he’d turn the decks over to N-Type, who would typically open his sections by blasting the reggae vibes… he played SO many party dubstep tunes with ace vocals, and I’m just dying to get hold of all of them…
Loefah and Mala were fantastic, and as I mentioned, they have the best tunes as well as doing the tag-team thing brilliantly. Plus they opened their set with a Wailers cut (Mala) and a couple of tunes on the Wede Man riddim (Loefah) which was exceptional – I’d like a lot more reggae at DMZ. Most of the time it was just a blissful selection. But sometimes their set dipped below the level of perfection we’ve come to expect. I think the crowd were flagging a bit by the time they came on for the 1.30 til 3.30 slot. Last time they did the 12 til 2 slot and it was one long uninterrupted love-in, with the crowd in peak-time form, adoring everything Loe and Mala dropped – I don’t think the energy was quite there for them this time.
However, the energy definitely was there for Benga vs Chef – their set was just a revelation. At first it was Chef on his own, building the vibe with well-known tunes, Benga off somewhere feeling worse for wear, and then suddenly, they were OFF. Chef hunched over the mixer looking like Grooverider back in the day, Benga with his ‘fro all skewiff and laughing out loud, both of them just locked into the crowd’s vibe. They absolutely tore it up, they absolutely rocked the crowd and by the end the energy was immense, explosive. It was like going to see Iggy. It was extraordinary.
And at the end Distance and Vex’d took it down nicely, some of it was a bi too industrial (lots of ring-modulated FX on the tunes – maybea bit much…) but had some great moments, especially hearing buck and bury.
Overall, there was a little less of the rewinds – still plenty to hype the crowd, but no too many – and a lot more extended house-style blending in all the sets which was just fantastic to hear – just what i wanted. And it was really, really, REALLY obvious that the energy in the crowd shot through the roof when a vocal tune got dropped. There were a LOT more vocals this time and YES we want MUCH MORE!!! (What was that really amazing roots-vocal Mala track that Pokes pulled back, like, five times? Awesome…)
So it was another fantastic DMZ and this scene is still getting better and better: it was great seeing Boom, Deapoh, Dr Bluebeat, Lucky Strike, and the French contingent, wicked people.