Reload First Birthday ft Arctic and Affiks @ The Gladstone, Sydney (07/04/2012)

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First birthday parties are usually fairly lavish affairs by standards, and the Reload First Birthday was no exception. The Gladstone Hotel had been smartly adorned in balloons and thoughtfully placed lolly bags (much to the unrestrained delight of this reviewer) scattered around to get everyone in the celebratory mood.

The line-up ,ever so lavishly gifted upon us for tonight’s celebrations, presented some of the best in local Australian talent in dubstep and grime including headline appearances from Affiks, head honcho of Melbourne’s Heavy Innit empire and Arctic, of the 50/50 grime juggernaut.

With the outside courtyard area dedicated to spinning drum n bass, jungle and grime and the inside to some of the heaviest bass weight Sydney has seen in a while, it was a challenge not to bounce between the rooms like a bass driven ping pong ball. Catching the tail end of Teefreq’s set inside, he has the sparse but appreciative opening crowd nodding approvingly to an appropriately grubby remix of Fatboy Slim’s Star 69 before Garage Pressure move in to lay down a set that favoured progressive, soulful dubstep selections, dipping into a touch of dancehall. Garage Pressure know how to pick the tunes that put just the right amount of bass-weight pressure on your chest.

Back outside, the liquid drum and bass selections that had kicked us off from opener Vision have completely submerged into a raucous offering from Centaspike, whose vocal garage and classic UK grime interspersed with some hip hop for good measure have the packed courtyard well and truly into the birthday spirit, especially when you’ve got a Die Antwoord breakdown and some dBridge thrown into the mix.

When Affiks and Arctic take to the stage, they roll out a set that represents the Melbourne bass family with justice- pulling Big Village’s Rapoport on stage to spit some bars for them and MC Swarmy to keep the vibe strong. They reference the classic UK sound for us tonight, woven in with some jungle, a dab of old school grime in the way of Eskiboy and tracks like Loefah’s Disko Rekah (which always does exactly what it says on the label), followed by Skream’s seminal Midnight Request Line to keep the heat on the dance floor rising. Add The Bug’s Skeng into the fray and you’ve got a dance floor frenzy like a room full of kids at cake time.

Unable to wipe the grins off their faces from start to finish, the sugar crash that followed tonight was more than worth it.

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