Getting Thumped

The bass line is everything in dubstep, whose core moves like robo-elephants, stomping and booming along.

The turntables had to be encased in flight tape, a foam composite that helps reduce the shaking even more. Because 800 pounds of cast concrete and cinder isn't enough. These are things learned empirically.

The first time they held a show at Engine Room, the mirrors in the bathroom vibrated so violently that they shattered. They know to take them off beforehand now.

At a smaller spot called GRAB Bar (now closed), lightbulbs that had been slightly loosened to darken the room shook until they either screwed themselves back in or fell all the way out. Everything gets tightened or removed before the shows now.

Los Angeles DJ and producer 12th Planet walks across the "Wall of Bass™," a trademarked term for the giant configuration of speakers necessary for a dubstep night, during a Gritsy show at Warehouse Live.
Huy Cao
Los Angeles DJ and producer 12th Planet walks across the "Wall of Bass™," a trademarked term for the giant configuration of speakers necessary for a dubstep night, during a Gritsy show at Warehouse Live.
Suraj Kurian says Mala, pictured at Gritsy's five-year anniversary, is to dubstep "kind of like what Bob Dylan is to rock and roll."
Huy Cao
Suraj Kurian says Mala, pictured at Gritsy's five-year anniversary, is to dubstep "kind of like what Bob Dylan is to rock and roll."

At Fox Hollow, a gastropub in the Heights, liquor bottles were shaken clean off the shelves. A heads-up is given now.

There are more stories, so there are more precautions.

The show today will be a small one, a last-minute free party thrown together for those that didn't trek down to Austin's SXSW. A full-fledged Gritsy gathering can draw 1,200-plus; this one, they're expecting 200.

Still, setup takes nearly eight hours.

And even that won't be enough.
_____________________

In 2006, while influential English DJ/journalist Mary Anne Hobbs was breaking dubstep to the substantial listening audience of her BBC Radio 1 show, Suraj Kurian was already DJing dubstep shows in Houston.

By then he had been an EDM DJ for ten years, focusing the bulk of his effort on the drum and bass offshoot. When he heard dubstep the first time, his brain immediately had an inkling it could grow into something great. His testicles, however, needed to be convinced.

"At first, I didn't have the balls to go after it," remembers Kurian. "I remember sitting there talking to my roommate like, 'This music is amazing. It's so easy to digest.'

"After a while, I was like, 'Fuck it. I don't care. If we lose money, we lose money. I wanna do something I'm personally going to enjoy.'"

Shortly thereafter, Gritsy, then a three-man operation, began throwing parties.

"On a national scale, Houston is one of the oldest dubstep cities in America," says 12th Planet, a Los ­Angeles-based DJ recently described by LA Weekly as "the DJ and producer responsible for bringing the emerging electronic strain of dubstep to America." "Gritsy has been going hard for six years without any corporate help."

Gritsy became more and more ambitious. Eventually, they began reaching out to the European DJs. Soon enough, the DJs were talking back. And then they were coming to town.

They booked major acts from other countries, including Tunnidge, an underground legend in Europe, New Zealand super duo Truth, and London's Mala, among the most important and influential characters in all of dubstep.

"Mala is...[deep breath]," says Kurian. "He's kind of like what Bob Dylan is to rock and roll. When he came, we were, like, following him around, kissing the ground he walked on [laughs]. I mean, not really, but you get the point. It was huge."

"No lie, Gritsy in Houston and Mad Classy in Austin are on my list of favorite places to play in the world," says Mala. "They care deeply about the music, the artists they book and their audience. I have seen Suraj and Lea [Scott, Gritsy's social media/production person] in three different countries; they make an effort to travel and see how the music is in different parts of the world.

"They make sure proper sound systems are provided for [the] artist to play on. Their care and attention to details make a massive difference to everything and everyone."

Gritsy grew as dubstep grew. When Americans began making proper noise, they pulled them in, too.

They booked Matty G., one of the earliest hip-hop/dubstep advocates. They booked 12th Planet. They booked Joe Nice, the Baltimore DJ who founded the first dubstep club night in America (New York's Dub War) and is considered by many to be the genre's ambassador to foreign affairs.

They booked more and their reputation grew. Gritsy was credited with being among the first in the nation to establish a recurring dubstep party, a grassroots campaign counted as integral as New York's Dub War, L.A.'s Smog, Denver's Sub.mission and Miami's Basshead.

And then dubstep broke in America.
_____________________

Recently, a DJ playing a show at Southern California EDM festival Beyond Wonderland received death threats via Facebook when she spliced dubstep into a trance-music set. But while dubstep has certainly faced disdain from those outside of its still-narrow purview, most of the chastising comes from within the genre itself.

Today, the difference in the dubstep morphs is readily apparent. The traditional Euro dubstep and the new(ish) American style are vastly different. Naturally, so are their functions. And that's where the issue comes in.

Within the musical canon, the original version of dubstep now serves as an underground antihero of sorts, which is a cloaked way of saying it's less popular. Those parties are darker and heavier and the music is more melodic and meditative.

Its proponents still use vinyl during their sets, championing the "bass and space" structure of their forefathers. Often, stalwarts will even incorporate the use of dubplates into their mixing.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
19 comments
Claystone
Claystone

They forgot the rampant bromosexuality, hand in hand with weed mentality, and "dubstep is dirtier than..." jokes....

This article is more of a joke than laptop DJs...

Michael_jozwiak
Michael_jozwiak

Being not sure if I ever heard a "dubstep" song, I searched the term "dubstep" at YouTube. The three samples heard seems to suggest a melody or ambient melody backed by a screwed version of drum and bass that morphes in and out of electronic avante gard. The genre's great-grandfather could be a band called Neu. What is DJ Chris Anderson's opinion of this genre? How does sheet music of dubstep compare to sheet music of Beatle songs?

Corey
Corey

Kids won't even know neu, or any krautrock, and the beatles are considered prehistoric. But your screwed up drum beat is because it's in 3/4 time, or 2/3, not 4/4 like house or most western music, strangely in the same time signature as a waltz. But as far as innovation you're quite right, there is none, and it's about as ambient as a sledgehammer.

Corey
Corey

Here Gritsy is a clan of Houston DJ's who play music that was once relevant (if I hear snake eater again I may puke) but now has gone commercial and is the teeny bopper genre of the moment. Go see them if you want some bass to stand up the hairs on your arm, and if you're over 21 god forbid normally some good drink specials. Outside of that, there is real music.

Al Likes Music
Al Likes Music

It's 3am on the night of the St. Pat's Day Freebie and my chest has been up against one of the Wall of Bass subwoofers for Suraj's set for over an hour and it felt like my life was hangin' by a string! It's that kind of bass! Music fo yo chest! Big up Gritsy! Respect & salute! :)

Rory Hohensee
Rory Hohensee

Ugrayed is the shit ! big ups to Gritsy and all the Bassheads makin it happen

Basslover
Basslover

learn to spell when giving props homie !

Regina
Regina

Who ever wrote this did a terrible job . Lets try for once having an article about dubstep without mentioning Skrillex ,because dubstep is bigger than one person. Obvioulsy who ever did their reseach didnt research enough considering they couldn't even explain what makes girtsy what it is ,and that would be EVERYONE in it. Damn couldnt even explain how collectivley they make what girsty is , and couldnt even put their names under the picture. Lazy reporting and writing. Sad what a waste this could have been a great article.

Josh
Josh

Dubstep: serious fuckin business

Erin
Erin

Regina its spelled G.R.I.T.S.Y

Corey
Corey

Du(M)bstep had it's time, 2-3 years ago now it's a fad on it's last legs. Though I will say Suraj and Ted are ace gents, I'm just bored of the same LFO modulated square bass lines. There is more to music than macho bass.

Dudley "Booger" Dawson
Dudley "Booger" Dawson

Dubstep is absolute crap. Shitty music imported from the UK that makes suicide look great. I'd rather listen to Bette Middler rap NWA songs than listen to this WUBWUBWUBWUBWUBWUBWUBWUBWUBWUBWUB.

John Nova Lomax
John Nova Lomax

Wow, people have finally figured out a way to make reggae nervous-making.

H_e_x
H_e_x

Good article man. I still don't like dubstep or, more precisely, what it has become, but it was a good read.

Geezy
Geezy

Gotta agree with Hex here. I'm a pretty big fan overall of most EDM music and have been around long enough to remember the 90's. I guess, like everything sooner or later it will evolve- the commercialization of what was once such an underground preference and adapted taste in music is a bit overwhelming.

Congrats to Gritsy though, seem to be doing their thing and that's a big plus for the Houston music scene.

SS
SS

Wow. "Unlike with other kinds of EDM (fairly or unfairly), the stigma of heavy drug use has never been attached to dubstep."

 

Concert Calendar

  • April
  • Wed
    16
  • Thu
    17
  • Fri
    18
  • Sat
    19
  • Sun
    20
  • Mon
    21
  • Tue
    22
Houston Event Tickets
Loading...