Skream, Joker & Plastician @ The Metro Theatre, Sydney (21/07/2012)

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Perth’s Big Ape crew very kindly decided to share their first birthday triple bill of Skream, Joker and Plastician with the East Coast bass fiends, and although the venue seemed a little unequipped the deliver the right sound for the acts in store tonight, they were killer sets delivered nonetheless. Subaske gently coaxed us all onto the dancefloor with a nice variety of heavy hitting dubstep selections, funky bass, a bit of reggae influence slipped in and a gentle teaser of Skream’s Filth weaving in and out of the mix.

Joker moves in to step things up and his set is easily the deepest and darkest of the night. While he is far less of a showman than Plastician or Skream, he gets down to business quickly and delivers a solid set that lends heavily toward to his grime roots. He drops Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Niggas in Paris to explosive response as well as dropping in The Prodigy’s Out Of Space and some Snoop Dogg toward the end of his set that takes some of the intensity of his selections down a bit.

Plastician bounds onstage with Sgt Pokes in tow and launches into his set, only to be cut short by a minor technical difficulty. It’s helped by Pokes leaping in for some quick comic relief but it isn’t long before we’re slapped with a banging techno beat that brings us all back. Clearly someone who relishes playing up to the crowd, Plastician spreads his arms wide before delivering us a crushing drop, bringing the dance floor from a state of excitement to sheer frenzy. While Joker brought us the deep and murky, Plastician brings a set that is just as hyperactive as he is, keeping everyone bouncing along, while Pokes strides the length of the stage, shouting for us to “come get it!” Dropping Benga and Coki’s Night keeps things at cracking pace, his set finally comes to a crunching finale while Pokes raises a raucous big up for ‘The Plastic Man’.

However, once Skream takes to the stage, the night takes an entirely different direction. Cracking open his set with Bauuer’s Harlem Shake, Skream seemed intent on taking everyone in the room through a musical journey. Taking elements from all aspects of bass music, and anything that has ever influenced him it seemed, the first half of the set, dominated with a far bass heavier agenda, including his seminal track Midnight Request Line, some Chase & Status and some incredibly viscous, murky sounding bass.

To me, once he veered off track from bass or dubstep, crowd interest started to wane. He pulled influences from as far-reaching and diverse as Daft Punk, Jamiroquai and Donna Summer. I feel as though the latter half of the set perplexed the crowd who were seemingly responding only to the bigger tracks; Shot Yourself in the Foot Again and Rusko’s Somebody to Love among the few tracks that got the dancefloor kicking again.

Was his set a little bit self indulgent? Maybe. But it was incredibly interesting to watch the don of dubstep go his own way and pull a set that he wanted to share with us rather than the one we wanted to hear. Polishing off the set with Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and a ‘Stage Invasion’, he graciously thanks everyone in the crowd. “It’s been a journey,” he declares, before insisting on one last run of Teen Spirit before throwing himself into the remaining crowd.

It was a night that not only showed Sydney the leading names in bass music, but also a journey they took to get here.

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