The crowd was thick. It’s rare to have a night where it’s as dense by the bar as it is by the stage before 1 AM, but Hospitality demands it. Dali, Nicky Twist & Kush had done their work as the resident selectros of Slake, a club on 30th street, in the shadows of the Empire State Building. Metrik was warming up, with Dynamite MC hyping the crowd like only he could. I have a soft spot for Dynamite MC, as he’s one of the only legit MC’s in all of drum & bass. Most of these cats just start babbling on the microphone, getting in the way of beats. He’s actually freestyling to the fast-slow rhythmic timing of Metrik, and we’re all better for it.
Metrik has a style of drum & bass that I’d describe as energetically soothing. This is a kind of sound that can go as hard as anything else out there, but never stresses you. Some DJs create anxiety-inducing drum & bass, as my ex-girlfriend once put it. Metrik’s kind of stuff stays massive, even without the abrasion or wacky gas mask excursions that some other labels can saunter into. I was grooving along to this set, then the thing I had been waiting for since his album dropped last November to happen, happened. He played this live:
The crowd surged in a way that I hadn’t seen in months. This mob knew exactly what it wanted to see and they got it. I was kind of stunned by the volume of people in the crowd that were singing along to the tracks. This stuff only makes it over to this side of the pond once a year or two, and these kids knew ever single word that Metrik was pushing out. Between that and Want My Love, Metrik could do no wrong, and passed it off to Reso in rare form.
Dynamite had been bringing us through all of the transitions, builds and breaks and didn’t stop. Especially when Reso went in hard almost immediately. This crowd took it and ran with it. The heavy D&B that Reso was pushing out shifted the crowd up another notch & unlike before, Reso was giving Slake no breaks. Some of us were kind of stunned at how quickly the energy & the punch of the tracks ratcheted up, but we were too busy dancing to care. This was a sweaty, humid party, in case we forgot what dance floors were supposed to be like. To get a sense of what this sounded like, check out this mix he did for the Daily Dose on BBC Radio One. This sub-genre of D&B is called neurofunk when you get to this level of power, for all you kids at home keeping score. Oh yea, and Evol Intent showed up at that point. I’m not entirely sure track suggestions were exchanged, but he certainly got people hyped. Because, you know, it’s not a real party until special guest DJs just show up to hang out.
After this power hour, the moment quite a number of us had been waiting for finally arrived. Nu:Tone had a hot second of tech frustration but Dynamite kept the crowd with it while he got us all ready. Before you knew it, the smooth but technically still hard as fuck was upon us. I have to give it to Nu:Tone. He spent most of the evening watching the crowd, talking with Metrik & feeling the room. He took us all on a journey that didn’t stop and you could see he’d done his research. I want to emphasize, this was at 3 AM. He maintained a totally packed dance floor at the point where people have totally emptied out, and it was there for the entire set. At 4 AM the floor was still packed, because of his mix between melodic, pounding, neuro & ridiculously funky drum & bass. This was one of those nights you were thankful to not have missed.
As the bass echoed through my body on the cab ride home, I thanked my lucky stars to have been there. Drum & Bass lives in NYC, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. See you on the dance floor next time perhaps.
Photos: Sarah Vale Photography