FWD still has its place, and it’s here to stay
The choice of music at FWD’s 11th birthday, set in a basement off Brick Lane on a viscous August night, reflects the inclusivity of the modern ‘bass music’. From Shigeru Umebayashi’s oriental folk ballads from House of the Flying Daggers, James Blake’s post-the-xx-soul ‘Limit To Your Love’, Dancehall’s Cutty Ranks’ vicious incitement to homophobia in ‘Limb by Limb’, the fractured elements of M-Beat’s jungle classic, ‘Incredible’, Ms Dynamite’s south-London-garage quick-fire, it is clear ‘bass’ is becoming increasingly circular – and every border is open to experiment.
Such a range was inevitable, as the night was ordered in years with each DJ representing a year, yet not in chronological order. There was Joker, known for his subgenre of ‘purple’ grime, doing a 2010 set – hence James Blake; there was Youngsta, doing a 2004 set – the year of Wiley’s coming-of-age ‘Wot Do U Call It?’, a cocoon-splintering track which described grime’s mid-00s search for identity; there was N-Type, doing a 2008 set – in which he played a version of TC’s ‘Where’s My Money’ – a description of frustration at being ripped off by promoter, which I first heard during a bloody fist-fight at a Hysteria rave under the London Bridge arches.
Then there was the bass. This one was 70 kilowatt, provided by RC1. The 100 kilowatt nights at Valve sound system, when Dillinja and Lemon D were kings of the drum & bass system game in the 2000s, were always exacerbated by incessant double-time MCing, but in comparison the RC1 system was crushing. Its physical effects were an encouragement to vomit, (a staple of FWD nights, who provide buckets) an itching of the nose, and a pain in the well of my ear which earplugs did not reduce.
What was also clear, as with the selection of music – from fragile soul to raw-edged 1980s dancehall – was that in dubstep, raving barriers have been lowered. Previously racial pockets were marked out. According to Goldie these barriers were broken down circa 1993 when he was first taken to Roast jungle raves, there were many black people as well as whites. However personal experience of drum & bass of the early 2000s was that crews were anxiously bubbled, from the edgy lines of kids ‘passing through’ in hands-on-shoulders crocodiles, the ‘personalities’ in gleaming white suits, the blissed-out ravers on a student loan. Now they’re all of the blissed-out variety, but racially as rainbowed as their smiles. With its home in Plastic People a kilometre away, FWD’s place as both the cradle and the guiding hand of dubstep is assured, 11 years on.Tagged in: bass, Dubstep, FWD, garage, Goldie, James Blake, Joker, Ms Dynamite, music, N-Type, wiley, Youngsta
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter