Back before EDM culture was mainstream, Philadelphia was a mecca of Drum & Bass music in America. Weekly events, like Platinum (at Fluid Nightclub with Dieselboy and a stable of top-notch MCs), and Concrete Jungle (at Skyline) packed fans in to see some of the biggest names in the genre like Roni Size, Goldie, Andy C, Usual Suspects, and Aphrodite. It was a special time here in Philly and one we miss dearly.
Those nights, vibes, and venues may not be a part of Philly underground culture anymore, but on Friday, January 9th, 2015 we got to relive some of that magic, if only for one night. Underground Arts was the setting for the 21+ event that featured three fantastic sets: an opening set by Architekt, a blistering middle set by Trollphace, and a headlining showcase by Dieselboy.
The night kicked off at 930PM with Architekt who didn’t pull any punches warming up the crowd. “Warming up” is a misnomer in this case, as he actually got things heated from the get-go with one basstastic track after the next. Architekt might not have the name recognition (outside of the Philly area) as the traveling DJs that made up the latter part of the show, but his track selection and talent behind the decks didn’t take a backseat to the rest of the night. In fact this was the best night of music, from start to finish, that we’ve heard in quite some time.
We hadn’t seen a full Trollphace set in person before, but we’ll never forget our first. We were instantly transported back into our early days of electronic music by his blistering Dubstep & Jungle tracks. Bass fans that missed this one should be ashamed (and very disappointed) because this was gangbusters. We wish we could tell you a little more about his track selection but we were lost in the moment. We recall him mentioning a brand new track that ‘Snails’ had just sent him, but most of the rest of the set is a blur, a beautiful, beautiful blur.
The headlining set was everything we’ve come to expect from Dieselboy: a bass music fan’s wet dream. His four-deck, 170 BPM, headlining set took the night from fever pitch to full-blown bass pandemic. The venue was full of people and nary a curmudgeon amongst them. Everyone was getting down. EVERY one. Every last one. Yes, that chick. Yes, that guy too. Dropping Drum & Bass, Jungle, and Dubstep, Dieselboy was a wizard behind the decks. The Jungle brought out the animals. The crowd went absolutely nuts and we were right there with them.
Shows like this don’t need the bells and whistles because the music is worth the price of admission all on its own. When we see acts like Flosstradamus drawing big crowds by rolling out these massive stage sets, just so they can press play, wave flags, and play crappy trap music, we begin to wonder if anyone cares about the music anymore. Then we see Dieselboy drop an onslaught like this and we remember not only why we fell in love with the music, but why those who still care about the music will continue to seek it out, wherever (and whenever) it may be.
This night was just what we needed to reaffirm in 2015 that EDM hasn’t killed electronic music and the underground scene, it has just weeded out the true music fans from the ones who care about flashy stage set ups over content and quality (and the ability to actually DJ). It was the perfect venue, age group (21+), crowd, and line-up to serve as a wake-up call to those who are doing things wrong, by showing them how to do things right.
[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]
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