I love Smog. I love the way it gets inside of you, the things it does to your body, that slick feeling on your skin, that soapy taste in your mouth. I love the moment when it hits your brain; I love it when you have to gasp for air, stepping back for a moment to catch your breath with a smoke outside in the city air. I need more Smog in my life.
I’m not talking about the fat layer of pollution that hovers over Los Angeles some days, as thick as the people’s love of the city itself. I’m talking about the best dubstep show I’ve ever been to in my life.
Smog is a local dubstep crew prone to throwing sick parties for over two years now, and last night was the debut of a virgin warehouse venue downtown as well as one of the dopest lineups yet to date: Caspa, Nick Argon, and hella locals: Pawn, Emu, Pablo Hassan, DJ Steady and Kemst.
I arrived early, before 11PM, and the line in the alley outside the old brick warehouse was already about 25 deep. Obese bass was bouncing right out the door and sticking to the walls outside, shaking the night. Everyone around me was straight-ADHD twitching and squirming on their feet, calming their psychoses by the chained intake of nicotine and green. I knew I had chosen wisely for my first dubstep show in LA.
Everyone loves a warehouse party, right? Can someone out there tell me I’m wrong? Theses venues sweat an ethos of underground that drips off their wooden rafters and into our brains; the level floor gives an egalitarian feel, for you can wander around from the back to the front and back, adjusting your position and vantage point all night long. The party last night was thick with blunt smoke- not weed smoke, BLUNT smoke. I love dubstep, and I love LA.
Pawn, Smog, LA
I pushed my way to the front where local talent Pawn was frothing up the dubstep-loving crowd into a lather and dancers were already sweaty and ready for the big names for whom they were waiting.
I have been a gigantic fan of Nick Argon of San Francisco since a friend handed me a CD several months ago that I have probably listened to hundreds of times. Seriously, hundreds.
Nick Argon, Argon Records, San Francisco
The founder of Argon Records consistently throws down seamless mixes of high-quality tracks from start to finish. His label is becoming more and more an influence on the global dubstep scene which is taking a turn to the even-darker side, the even-dirtier hyped-up bassy party side created with dance floors in mind, a shift that seems to be contaminating almost every genre of electronic music these days. Deep down inside everyone is a bass slut and you know it.
“Dubstep is boring.” I have heard this almost as many times as I have heard “Techno is repetitive.” Guess what, people: You are not listening to the right kind of dubstep. I heart this genre not only because it was the first kind of electronic music I fell in love with, on the beaches of New Zealand, but because it lends itself to my favorite and my default dance move: the bounce. Dubstep is SEXY, dirty sexy, and I think the legions of chicks humping speakers last night will agree with me.
Dubstep speaks to the dark streak down all of our backs, to the deep and defiled recesses of our minds which cause us to dance down, down, down to the floor. But there is always the upbeat- the glimmer of hope in the darkness, which could not be more appropriate as this country and indeed the world have just entered a new year and a new era (you guys all felt the world shift last Tuesday, right?). Dubstep encompasses the range of being within each human, from our first to our seventh chakras, from the dark to the light, from despair to hope. Nick Argon delivered a high-energy performance last night and his set threw the dance floor into bouts of hysteria.
And then Caspa took to the decks, and all hell broke loose. Caspa, along with his label-mate Rusko, are dominating the UK dubstep scene and injecting a wild party vibe into the music, creating a hybrid sound that does not step, it stomps.
Caspa, Sub Soldiers, Dub Police, UK
It seemed like the whole Smog crew was up on stage to dance and throw their hands up to this king of grime who played an all-vinyl set and seemed to almost tease the thirsty crowd with each record he pulled from his bag. At a really good show, there comes a point where you cease actually dancing and just go fucking crazy, screaming with a wide open smile, body in near-seizures, arms and legs slinging and kicking all over, getting hit in the face and beer in your hair and not caring, grinding with your dance floor mates in a communal orgy of movement. This was pretty much the state of the world for Caspa’s entire set, his entire, bwompy, filthy, bassinsane set.
It’s all about the bwomp now- whomp is SO one post ago.
Caspa bombarded us with almost every track I knew that I loved, including his mind-melting remix of TC’s Where’s My Money, which threw the crowd into even greater states of ecstasy. On Jahova by Rusko he would cut the sound and sing, “dum, dah dah dum, dah dah duh duh dum.” and soon we were all dah-dumming along. He clearly enjoyed delivering the crowd into dance delirium, smiling and downing beer throughout his set.
MC Kemst, Smog, LA
The tireless MC Kemst (who rolled up to the party on a bike, STYLE!) added to the hyphed-up atmosphere with cries and commands not just to get your hands up but to believe in yourself, that no matter what your struggle, you were dancing tonight as part of the international electronic music community, supporting the artists and pushing sound in new directions. Usually not a big fan of MCs (shut up with your words, gimme the beats!) I really liked this one and thought he added to the already out-of-control night.
Caspa brought a bag of at least 50 CDs with him which Kemst threw into the crowd, earning major points in my book and no doubt many others as well. The MC reminded us, this music is for you and your friends, burn that shit and hand it out. Major points AND I have a sweet new CD (though my shorty-self failed to catch any of the vinyl or baseball caps which frisbeed their way into grubby paws throughout the night).
I left last night soaking wet, ringing out my denim skirt. My hands were so slippery with sweat it had been hard to take pictures for Donte. One MAJOR complaint (though it was a new venue so I will cut Smog some slack): NO WATER. I had brought $22 to the show, $20 to get in and $2 to tip for glasses of water- however at the bar they only had bottled at $4 a pop. No worries- I’m not too good to drink from the bathroom tap. I wandered to the back however and saw that it was Port-O-Potty city. Now, I AM too good to drink from a Port-O-Potty hand washing station. C’mon peeps if you want dancers to go crazy and sweat and freak out all night, you HAVE to give us water, even us poor unemployed fuckers for whom spending money on shows comes before food and water. Hey, my priorities are in line. Dehydrated, but in line.
So if there is anyone out there who still thinks dubstep is boring after reading my account of last night, I don’t think I can help you. Just remember: in many languages, you cannot say, “I am bored.” You have to say, “I bore myself.”
NOTE: I know my pictures kind of SUCK and I can’t blame it all on slippery, sweaty hands. What’s up with all the little dots? Can someone help me out here? I’m a lover not a fighter, not a photog but a writer. And a broke-ass poet with a brand new cadence. Thanks.