Skream and Benga
Photo by Troy Kurtz
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
White Room, Miami
Better Than: Staying home on a Wednesday night.
Dubstep has arrived. Sort of.
Wednesday, White Room hosted two of the genre's biggest icons, Skream and Benga. The British DJs have achieved almost cult status in the States. They aren't necessarily bringing the crowds Tiësto pulls (not that I consider that a bad thing), but there was definitely a sizable crowd at the downtown venue for a weeknight.
If you aren't familiar with dubstep, it's an offshoot of drum & bass. Except where drum & bass is characterized by fast breakbeats, dubstup slows things down to the point that it can test a person's patience. It shares more similarities to the beats found in Miami bass and southern hip-hop, so its success in the Magic City isn't at all surprising.
The night started with sets by local DJs Damaged Goods (Misfit Fridays) and Juan Basshead (Get Low). While it isn't a stretch for Basshead to spinning at this sort of event (you can catch him at every monthly Get Low event at the Vagabond -- seriously, don't miss it), Damaged Goods is usually confined to spinning your standard Top 40/hip-hop fare during his Misfit sets at Louis. It was nice to see him break out of it and show how much he really loves and embraces dubstep. He had the whole crowd nodding and awkwardly jerking their bodies (standard dubstep dance moves) during his entire set.
By the time Skream and Benga took over the decks, the crowd was fully
warmed up. If I have any complaint about the genre is that at times it
seems like everything sounds the same. I couldn't help but wondering if
I heard it all before. My friend who accompanied me actually complained
that the pair weren't exactly playing anything new or groundbreaking.
Maybe its because they underestimated an American audience.
But while the music might have seemed old and tired, the crowd didn't show any signs of caring. White Room brought in a superb sound system,
so the sound quality was great compared to most shows I've witnessed at
the venue. Natch, the bass in particular got a good workout. Like I
said before, dubstep is known for is beats that can test a person's
patience. Skream in particular did these extended breaks of pure low
bass that it rattled my entire body. However, they weren't always successful.
I found myself getting bored at times. But when he kicked things into
high gear, it was hard to leave the room.
Personal Bias: Dubstep seems like a breath of fresh air after electro-house got over extended.
Random Detail: White Room's renovations consisted of a few new
light fixtures and a new awning over the outside bar. The owners said
there is more to come.
By the Way: Another dubstep superstar, Mala, played at Vagabond the following night.