Story by: Chris Conte
Photos by: Joe Runge, Derek Rickert (Spectral Productions), Zak Littrell (AXZL Media)
Every once in a while an article will pop up or you'll hear some Hardwell fanboy say "dubstep is dead." I'm here to prove them wrong.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Datsik's Ninja Nation tour, Excision debuting his insane new Paradox stage show, the Safe In Sound tour with Zomboy, Terravita, and Flux Pavilion along with Bassnectar's countless soirees, it's impossible to deny 2015 was a huge year for dubstep.
Each of these shows sold out venues across the nation. Herds of kids poured into clubs and arenas all over the US to be a part of the madness that is a dubstep show. There is a reason that all these concerts did so well this past year: Dubstep is NOT dead.
The key here is to actually go to one. To truly experience what bass music like this is capable of, you need to be in the crowd and soak it all up. A dubstep show is not about VIP sections, button-ups, and $15 vodka tonics. It couldn't be farther from it, as a matter of fact. A dubstep show is about letting the bass wash over you and letting loose. Forgetting about bills, forgetting about your weekly troubles or your car that needs repair. It's about getting lost in the music, it's about operating off pure emotion by letting the music take hold. It's about hearing ridiculous drops that make your face contort into some unrecognizable monster because you can't believe what you're hearing. The experience of simultaneously being in disbelief and dancing your ass off with a crowd of people is unparalleled.
You need to forget the sparklers, the high heels, the pretentious doormen and the velvet rope of the VIP club crowd. At dubstep shows we are all one cohesive unit, all there to rage and party our asses off without the grandiose theatrics of a high class club. There is an energy that emanates from a dubstep show that is unequaled. No house hook will ever come close to the intensity that is generated from a heavy dubstep drop. It can encompass your entire body, from your feet to the top of your head. When the bass bulldozes through the crowd, your chest vibrates, your ears shake--there is nothing like it!
Dubstep is a mashed up, intertwined ball, of the festival hippie scene (in terms of everyone vibing together without a hierarchy), people who love to party their ass off, and fans who just need to blow off some steam. Dubstep is to dance music what death metal is to rock and roll. These shows are leviathans with colossal sounds and tremendous fervor.
As the years pass, things change; the industry evolves. Like everything else dubstep is evolving. Many more artists are gaining ground in the limelight. Trollphace and Getter, to name a couple breakout stars, both had huge years. They started out as ruthless dubstep acts and have now since expanded their sound. Still sticking to their routes, yet pushing boundaries.
Getter explained, “I think finding myself and understanding what I really want out of music has given me this recent push. For a while I was making boring music, but now I need to 100% love every track I make, or it’s never released. In 2016 I can say there will be more everything. I’m focusing a lot on making hip-hop fueled songs because that’s my favorite type of music at the moment. Along with some new dubstep, trap, house, everything really. My long term fans will appreciate 2016.”
He had a massive year that included his first release on Skrillex's OWSLA records, which has racked up 1.3 million views on YouTube. Life is about balance; Getter is achieving this in his success. The scene is showing depth and advancement. It’s developing. What is the key to survival? Adaptation. This is how humans have survived, and this how the dubstep scene will, as well.
Growth is a sign of durability. New artists are getting signed and marketed every year. Different twists, enlightened views, heavier drops, all signs that point to progression. Dubstep has been around for years and will continue to be. It is flourishing with talent, every year new producers are discovered. We're seeing younger and younger producers, as well as more women joining the traditionally male-dominated field. It’s really incredible.
Sharra Grace, Datsik's Firepower Records label manager has been watching this explosion in talent closely. "New talent can come from anywhere really. From submissions to recommendations from other artists, we try and pay attention to all sources so we don't miss any new or emerging artists. I’ve noticed that lately artists are really diversifying their sound. They aren't feeling as though they have to stick to one genre which is really refreshing to listen to. It makes for far more complex music."
This is the key to the endurance of a scene within the music community. The perseverance of dubstep is attached to its prosperity. There are parties happening every weekend in different cities all over the US. One that I am lucky to attend on a regular basis is the BASSment Saturdays party at Webster Hall in New York City. They have been packing the place for a couple years now, each and every Saturday, with some sort of heavy bass music showcase. Recent editions have included Figure, Bear Grillz, Midnight Tyrannosaurus, SKisM, MUST DIE!, Eptic, Liquid Stranger, and most recently jPhelpz and Bommer. That basement is a hot spot for dubstep, a place where likeminded bassheads can meet up once a week. The Webster Hall basement turns into a subsonic swamp. The scene is thriving. These epicenters are sprouting up across the whole country.
jPhelpz helped to illustrate this point after one such BASSment throwdown. “Yesterday, I played in Florida. It was a small intimate show, it was intense. They were raging against the barricade. I’ve been seeing a lot more of that. The whole venue head banging and raging. I see a lot of passion still on the rise. Back in the day, it was all sweaty ass dudes. Now there are so many girls who are passionate about it. And that gives me hope to cause when both sexes are into it, it’s a lot more acceptable. People who listen to dubstep are a different crowd. House people are into a mellow connection. People who go to dubstep concerts they come from metal backgrounds or they are just going somewhere to release a lot of energy. That’s what I see every night - people releasing a lot of pent up energy.”
The dubstep scene is continuing to branch out in its growth. This past weekend at the Decadence New Year's Eve blowout in Denver, CO, melodic bass artists Illenium, Crywolf, and Said The Sky all performed together, flying in the face of expectations and strict genre limitations. All three artists have honed a sound that melds the heavy sounds of dubstep, with more mainstream, melodic flavors from house, trance, and indie-pop. We've become so enamored of them over the years, we just had to bring them out to our own event, The Untz Festival, hitting Mariposa, CA from June 2-4, 2016.
In the end, you like what you like. If you're into top tier clubs and expensive drinks, do you. As long as you are not hurting anybody. Go enjoy yourself, but just know that dubstep is far from dead and here to stay.
Dubstep struck a chord within us, which can only be accessed in heart of the crowd, but when the vibe and the music all intertwine there is a moment where nothing else exits but the present. As long as there are people who thrive off pure passionate emotion, it's not going anywhere. We are looking for to what 2016 has in store for heavy bass music.
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