Electro vs Dubstep - Koko, London - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Electro vs Dubstep - Koko, London

by Leonora Walters Rating: Release Date:

I wasn't sure whether Koko's recent Dubstep vs Electro night meant dubstep artists and electro artists on the same bill, or more ambitiously dubstep mixed with electro. But although the night comprised the former and more realistic option, with performances this good it exceeded all my expectations.

After a long queue (despite a pre-bought ticket) I still managed to see most of what was arguably the performance of the night, up and coming dubstep/rock band Modestep. Even though on this occasion they came in the form of DJ and MC rather than full four-piece outfit, they belted out drum & bass, rock and, as their set progressed, dubstep with all the energy of a live band. Modestep's own productions came alongside mixes of other artists, including a very muscular rendition of Nero's 'Crush on You', toughened up with a heavy bassline and shimmering sub bass. Hot on their heels, rock band Does It Offend You, Yeah?, offset Modestep's dubstep with an even heavier, though less energetic, electro-rock set.

Upstairs in room two, meanwhile, one of DJ/producer duo Genetix pumped out dubstep more energetic than you would ever have expected this genre could be, not lost on the swelling crowd of defectors from the main room. Similar to chart toppers Nero, Genetix started out in drum & bass but are (successfully, I think) trying their hand at dubstep. Rather than move wholesale into this slower genre, however, while they play what is unmistakably dubstep, in this set they brought with them all the energy of drum & bass. Genetix kept the crowd swaying until the sound equipment short-circuited, bringing a great set to an undeserved early end. Definitely the other main contender for 'set of the night'. And if Nero can make it big then surely...? Watch this space.

Back downstairs, DJs Mixhell warmed the stage for the night's headline act, Steve Aoki. This Californian DJ and singer is firmly in the electro camp, which is exactly what his set was, and as well executed and smooth a performance as you would expect from a DJ/producer of his standing. Steve mostly mixed a set underscored with a relatively heavy bass-line and also sang, bouncing out from behind his mixing deck towards the front of the stage as his set neared its end.

The most visually striking part of his performance, however, was when he surfed the crowd about halfway through. Steve climbed up along the sides of what were boxes (Koko is a converted theatre which retains many of its old features) leaving me and presumably the rest of the crowd slightly in the dark as to what he was up to. But this soon become apparent when an air-bed fell onto the crowd followed by Steve, who bobbed around on his make shift surfboard until paddling back to stage. A Californian take on (crowd) surfing?

Remaining firmly on the stage, DJ Bar 9 wound up the night with some blistering dubstep which did not quite match the intensity of Genetix but was still very danceable - a powerful close to a powerful night. Any criticisms? Not with the quality of those performances. But if I have one concern, it was that maybe the electro artists weren't presented to full effect. If you place a lighter genre like electro-house alongside a heavier one like dubstep or drum & bass, it will not seem as strong or distinctive as it actually is. A bit like a strong flavour overwhelming a more delicate one, however good the taste of the latter.

That said, for the audience, such contrasting styles back-to-back emphasised each performance so that one stage offered two dimensions. Variety was definitely the spice of this night.

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