Last Friday night Cheese on Toast sent TOTEMS aka Reuben Winter along to R&V Soundcheck at Vector Arena to review the show for us. Here’s his report…
After being stuck out west and playing NBA: Jam for way longer than intended I arrived at Vector Arena. Labrinth had just finished playing which I wasn’t too fussed about seeing as I don’t actually like his music thaaaat much (lol), I’d already seen Homebrew a few times but I was kinda pissed that I missed them.
In the foyer I decided to ask people what the two sets were like, the first guy I asked told me it was “fucking sick” but seemed more focused on feeling up the “two mack as blonde chicks that were totally making out in the front row”. He then proceeded to tell me that he wanted to find someone with one leg so he could beat him up. I totally wasn’t prepared for that response, so I left and went inside the actual arena.
On the stage was a huge riser with NERO written in the centre, surrounded by screens and speakers. On top of the riser were an array of synthesisers and a crew hurriedly setting them up, all this happening while one of the U live hosts was spinning tunes and dropping the air horn sample, which raised my respect for him significantly. Finally Nero took the stage (feat. leather jackets/ wrap around shades) and played a ‘live’ set of the hits (Crush on You, Promises, Innocence, etc) interspersed with songs I hadn’t heard, like a super filthy remix of Justice’s “Stress”. I couldn’t help but wonder just how ‘live’ the set was, seeing as it seemed like they were just playing synth along to the backing track, with vocalist Alana Watson coming out and performing the songs she features on. After Nero finished the DJ continued playing tunes while Nero/Rusko (who I was looking the most forward to) made the changeover.
Ruskos set up was much more modest than Neros slightly pretentious tower of power, with just a standard DJ setup on the massive vector arena stage. He appeared onstage getting buck with the DJ and made his way over to the booth to begin playing. At this point I was pretty excited, seeing as Rusko is one of my favourite dubstep artists and I had really enjoyed him on his last visit to NZ. His set started out super promising with some of his old tunes and rad dubstep bangers, but then began to change when he played “NEW RUSKO!!!” (his words, right before the drops). The drops were catchy dubstep wobbles, with super robotic sounding drums. No longer did he have the dub element in his dubstep; his new stuff sounded more like Nero than Rusko, which kinda makes sense seeing as one of his more recent projects was Britney’s last album.
He continued to switch up between the old and new for the rest of the set, with a new 2k12 edition of his “California Love” remix. I left after just over hour of it just from sheer tiredness – it was 2am and I had work the next day.
I felt sort odd afterward, actually witnessing the shift in dubstep. I admit that I’ve kinda slept on dubstep recently in comparison to a few years ago, but it seems to be the trend in dubstep today to either have the filthiest basslines, a catchy pop hook or both. Now at this point let me say I have nothing against this type of dubstep, I really enjoyed both sets and lost my shit when Nero played “Innocence”. I just wasn’t prepared for Rusko to be as different, seeing as he has been one of my favourite artists for years and I had been listening to his “Cockney Knees Up” mix (google it/download it/it’s my favourite dubstep mix ever) prior to coming. Maybe I’m just stuck in the past, but it proved the point that dubstep has become and altogether different beast in the past few years.
Oh well, it’s only a genre, I’m just glad I got to see Rusko drop “Pro Nails”.
For our full photo-set of the show by Suren Unka click here
Reuben Winter was formerly of Bandicoot and now records under the moniker TOTEMS – check his bandcamp here.
He’s also recently completed a post-trap-step collaboration with young producer and MC Eno called Gotenks