Dub FX @ The Metro Theatre, Sydney (19/05/2012)

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“We’re just street performers who happen to be on a stage playing to a crowd,” says Benjamin Stafford, or Dub FX on the streets and stage, as the crowd whoops. Last Saturday, the Metro fired up for a late night/early morning rave, with sounds from Dub FX, Spoonbill and Bumble & Itsu.

And it was Bumble & Itsu who fired up the night with mellow beats and flourishing synth sounds. Nodding enthusiastically from behind the dual Macbooks, the two brought the crowd along with them.

But more impressive was the theatre itself, decked from stage to stairs with spires of neon and glowing pyramids. Amongst the crowd were performers whirling every colour you could imagine. Girls with hoops decorated the stage, making for a very live performance despite the sometimes repetitive sounds.

And as Dub FX and his assistant/fiancée Flower Fairy made it on humbly to the stage, the crowd pushed forward. From Melbourne via London, the two bring British rave sounds to Australia’s streets, whether it be reggae, dancehall, drum ‘n bass, grime or dubstep. And it’s all done live on loop pedals or a sampler, just as any busker would have it. Having been down in Sydney for a celebration of street performers during the day, Dub FX made his way over to the Metro to bring the vibe of the streets to the club.

Sydney transformed into a dancehall from Kingston as soon as Dub FX spat out his first bassline, Flower Fairy beckoning the crowd from the side. It was all hip hop and grime riddims for a while, with Dub FX rapping through bipolar pitch-shifting up and down, while Flower Fairy sung the hooks.

They hinted that things would pick up, and he pointed to his sampler. With the magic of a single button, the night launched into brutal junglist riddims, shredding in and out of his pitch-shifted vocal bass. It was DJing but a bit more live, parading at the front of the stage and mixing some of their originals into classics. UK Apache/Shy FX’s Original Nuttah made an early appearance in the set, but not to the crowd’s recognition (or care). But we still felt the rhythm, and still went off.

Spoonbill topped the night off with more glitched beats. It’s like hip hop without the rapping. I’d say more but they sounded a bit too much like the opening act. And an act maybe not to follow an hour of brutal drum n bass. But near the end of the set, Dub FX made an appearance and spat a few verses with his usual hip hop thing.

But the Metro is always too soft, and so the night didn’t pack the punch it ought to have. It was maybe the softest DnB rave I’ve been to, and the earliest. You should be able to feel the bass throbbing upwards from your gut. It should be sweaty. There should be a strobe flicking permanently in your vision. But yeah, we’re in Sydney, and that can’t happen. For a night though, we were in London.

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