Last week, Forge Screen’s Joe Mackay ventured away from dear old Sheffield, through the peaks and into the heart of Manchester to attend Metropolis’ 15th Birthday at The Warehouse Project. It’s an event that celebrates the diversity of the UK Bass Music scene, and following last year’s eclectic and particularly bass-heavy show (a review for which can be read online here: http://forgetoday.com/press/warehouse-project-16-metropolis-birthday/), expectations were once again high.
Boasting a stellar lineup of acts from all over the heavy dance music spectrum, the night served as a showcase of what the underground has to offer. Whether that’s Shy FX’s particular brand of Jungle, Friction’s solid grasp of Neurofunk Drum & Bass, My Nu Leng’s Nu-Breakbeats, Darkzy’s in-yer-face Bassline or Redlight’s recent sub-tropical infused concoctions, there’s literally something for everybody – even if they didn’t know they even wanted it.
With 3 rooms of concurrent music and the unfortunate physical impossibility of being in 3 places at once, this review focuses upon a spattering of acts from across the evening.
Whilst the 10:30pm last entry might seem somewhat absurd for an event that starts at 9pm and finishes at 5am, it does mean that every year the place is rammed early on and an atmosphere of excitement is rife.
On main room warmup duty was Mark XTC, firing off low-end house and garage and generally getting things moving along nicely before Darkzy took his place behind the decks.
Known primarily for a remix of Drake’s ‘One Dance’, there was an air of uncertainty as he began his set. Any concerns were dispelled almost immediately however, as he tanked through dubplates and VIP remixes at a phenomenal pace, converting even the most die-hard bassline sceptic. It was cheesy at times, occasionally clumsy and littered with producer tags, but nevertheless a lot of fun. People chanted ‘Hold Tight Man Like Darkzy Yeah!’ long after his set finished.
Following a short but sweet AJ Tracey grime set that proved him to be one of the most exciting MCs the scene has to offer, Shy FX blasted into the main room with MC Stamina in tow. An exciting mix of Jungle, Reggae and Drum & Bass proved an effective triple threat, from General Levy’s classic ‘Incredible’ to his own remixes of DJ Fresh’s ‘Gold Dust’ and Protoje’s ‘Who Knows’, there was never a dull moment or misstep. He even tested out his Rebel Sound/Chase & Status Dubplate, a mash-up of ‘No Problem’ and ‘Original Nuttah’ that drove the crowd into a complete frenzy.
My Nu Leng followed with their own take on the UK bassline scene. In contrast to Darkzy, the set was all about slow builds and heavy payoffs, rhythm-based low-end with a distinct tribal flavour. Following on from Shy FX with something more downtempo may have been a challenge, but My Nu Leng and Dread MC were more than up to the task.
Headliners Chase & Status took to the stage and took business back up to 87 beats per minute, firing off a ‘No Problem’ dubplate for good measure. Unfortunately this proved to be the highpoint of their set. Over the course of their hour long slot they cranked through a variety of fast-paced tunes, but all too often if just felt like filler in between their own productions. Compared to the variety of acts that opened for them, their set felt somewhat stale.
Throw in the additional factor that MC Rage proved to be the weakest MC of the evening by a long shot, serving little to no function as either a hype man or a lyricist, and you’ve got yourself a particularly underwhelming headliner.
This is a disappointment since their live show is an absolute killer – it’s just a shame that, on this occasion, the same cannot be said of their DJ set.
Finishing the evening in Room 2, Mak & Pasteman provided a very pleasant soundtrack to finish the evening in contrast to some of the exhausting music that came prior. Definitely on the more heavy end of the house spectrum, their set provided funky melodies, banging rhythms, and a bucketload of technical ability; a perfect escape after 5 hours of sheer filth. Jack Swift closed off the evening in Room 2, with Dimension concurrently tearing the main room apart.
Metropolis 15th Birthday was a very good evening, if not for some jarring shifts between acts and a disappointingly lacklustre headliner.
It proves that the UK Bass scene is going strong, with the depth, variety, and continuous ability of the acts on display a big factor of the evening’s quality. Good music, good friends, good times. Hold Tight Man Like Darkzy Yeah.