Calgary may be known for a few things worldwide, but one thing the bassheads that live here are fully aware of is that we are blessed with the shows we get. Last Friday, the drum and bass scene in Calgary was once again rewarded with a banger of a show – two rooms at Bronco’s Smokehouse & Saloon were rinsed out all night with dirty DnB and banging electro!
Brought to us by 403DNB in the main area and Symbiotic Sound (who also gave us the Hidden Falls and Midnight Mountain festivals) turning up the second room, we were treated to some incredible tunes. Headlining the night was the DnB legend A-Sides, with opening acts from Jamie Jams (the party doubled as the official release of her new album), Bigworm, Strange Manner, and Logo. In the second room I got to enjoy the tunes of Quetza and Enthusiast Beats, as well as our other Symbiotic stars, Nick Norris, Bambooloo, and Bounceit.
I managed to arrive early enough to catch the last of Nick Norris‘ bouncy set. It was just the right vibe to start ramping up the party, and Quetza carried on the energetic flow with some booty-shakin’ trap tunes, pretty much making it impossible not to dance – especially because by now the crowd had arrived, and the irresistible vibe was all about the music.
I tore myself away from the second room and wandered over to Strange Manner‘s birthday set at the main stage, and I’m gonna be looking out for him in the future. His set got the party started, and I was locked in until he finished. The man on the mic tonight was MC Gravity, who was hyping the crowd up and drawing them out from the sidelines. Inciting cheers from the crowd for Strange Manner, Gravity announced another birthday set up next – Bigworm! One of three co-founders of 403DNB, I’ve never seen him disappoint when he plays – the mad success of the organization owes itself to the passion of the players, and that same dedication comes through when Bigworm takes the decks.
While outside having a smoke I realized how much I was enjoying this co-promotion. If you’ve ever been to a drum and bass show, then I’m pretty sure you know that for a large part of the night, there’s always a decent part of the crowd outlining the dancefloor, sipping a beer, bopping their heads – veterans of the scene. Contrast that to the second room powered by Symbiotic Sound, which brought a young crowd: bright colours, big smiling faces, and innocent, lively, festival-minded vibes. This was a collaboration that I LOVED. It was great having two rooms for different tastes, and being able to bop between the two was rad for someone who enjoys both kinds of music. Not only that, but I fucking love drum and bass, and if more people are exposed to that then I’m all for it! Symbiotic gets more mainstream exposure from this collaboration, and 403DNB reach a whole new generation of ravers.
Heading back into the party, it was time for some of Bounceit‘s sweet rhythms in Room Numero Dos! Watching this guy play is always a lot of fun, and by this time the dance floor was full of people jamming to his set. Enthusiast Beats took the stage after him – out of the Symbiotic DJs, Enthusiast Beats and Quetza were my two to watch. They’ve both got their game on the right path and I’ve been impressed again and again with what I’ve seen them bring to a show. The right kind of performance energy is crazy important when you’re on stage (just look at the popularity/cult following of west coast hero Longwalkshortdock), and I am a DJ watcher – I stare at the people on the decks, and if they’re not excited about what they’re playing then they always end up losing a lot of the crowd’s interest.
After that, the drum and bass called me back! I only caught the last couple of minutes of Bigworm’s set, but I was ready for Jams to kill it. This lady is an inspiration to any aspiring female in DnB nationwide; rostered on 403DNB, managing DnB Girls, and taking a central part in DnB Lives Here, this is a chick with a lot of drum and bass on her plate. It being her album release party, I had high hopes for what she was going to throw down and she still blew me away. It’s always a lot of fun for me to see a DnB DJ wile out behind the decks, and Jams’ energy was connecting the crowd. Jams got me entirely stuck in to the DnB headspace, and she was the perfect lead-in to A-Sides.
I was looking forward to this show in part because I hadn’t discovered A-Sides until recently when this show was being promoted. This man has been making music since 1990, with over 500 tracks under his belt, and though he’s been in our city a few times before (I told you Calgary is blessed), I hadn’t seen him play. Immediately falling in love with his sound, I knew this wasn’t a show to miss. 403DNB always know the best selectors, and A-Sides delivered. His style of drum and bass was versatile – fast and heavy but still upbeat, and he had no problem kicking into high gear when required. The crowd was mingling with both rooms’ demographics now, as Bambooloo had finished his set and his audience migrated over for the last half hour of A-Sides’ epic set.
The music was incredible all night and everyone’s performances were energetic and passionate. It was awesome to see the DnB vets breaking a sweat on the floor, and seeing the younger crowds mixing in and learning to love drum n’ bass gave me those festival tingles.
PS If you wanna catch some of the magic that these guys are throwing down, you can check in with 403DNB at their Annual Xmas Bash ft. Lenzman where they’re collaborating with the up-and-coming Noctilux Collective, and you can watch this space to keep in tune with what the Symbiotic Sound boys have up their sleeves.
Words By: Beatrix Kiddo ❤