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Getting Thumped

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

A dubplate is a record cut out of acetate rather than plastic vinyl, and is considerably more expensive. A good 12", which will hold at most ten minutes of music on each side, will cost about $100 and can only be used about 30 times before it becomes useless.

Key players in this dubstep are revered on the margins, God-like almost, but generally invisible to teenage girls and their dollars.

The new strand, which is already about one million times more commercially successful than its predecessor, is the version that L.A. wunderkind Skrillex turned into five Grammy nominations and three wins this past February.

Skrillex's performance at Austin's Mohawk during SXSW last month literally had people climbing the walls. The DJ has become a controversial figure among older dubstep fans, who see his style as overly aggressive and commercial.
Mark C. Austin
Skrillex's performance at Austin's Mohawk during SXSW last month literally had people climbing the walls. The DJ has become a controversial figure among older dubstep fans, who see his style as overly aggressive and commercial.
Australian duo Knife Party drew nearly 2,000 dubstep fans to Houston's Stereo Live one recent Friday night.
Marco Torres
Australian duo Knife Party drew nearly 2,000 dubstep fans to Houston's Stereo Live one recent Friday night.

This dubstep, which is now popping up in your life if you are a human with a pulse, plays antagonist. It is cast as the vampire capitalist.

To reduce the situation to its bones: One of them gets the integrity, the other one gets the check. Or, better still, one gets the music, the other gets butt rockets.

"I can't speak for the Gritsy posse," says Matty G., "but it would seem as though we share the same perspective when it comes to music.

"We're all about the music. The people who come to their shows are about the music. They don't come out to a Gritsy show to run around half naked with glow-in-the-dark body paint on and watch a stripper shoot a bottle rocket out her ass, they come to a Gritsy show to hear good music."

Both are fun, just different sorts of fun.
_____________________

It seems like they'd be natural allies.

Layne Schmerin and Raj Rao run a concert promotion company called 2 Tone ENT. They've booked Lupe Fiasco, Slim Thug, Chamillionaire, Curren$y, Pac Div and more. They even managed to sell out a show that had Afroman on the bill.

Flux Pavillion is a DJ/producer who performs at concerts that are promoted. Last year, Jay-Z and Kanye West used his song "I Can't Stop," which has amassed more than 20 million YouTube views, on their platinum-selling album Watch the Throne. Pavillion has become one of the marquee names in Electronic Dance Music.

It fits. Except that it doesn't.

"I offered Flux Pavillion's manager $20,000 for a show," says Schmerin. "They didn't even look at me," he adds with an only semi-sincere laugh.

"A lot of these guys now [EDM DJs], they're tied in with networks and other channels already," says Schmerin. "I'd love to do a dubstep show. It's hard to get them. Everybody wants them."

Where five years ago a good dubstep DJ in the United States could expect to receive no money for a show, booking fees can now range anywhere from $3,000 for a lesser-known-but-still-known act to upwards of $50K for peak-time performances by the genre's stars.

As dubstep has become more viable, larger-scale booking agencies have become more involved. And bigger acts are regularly linking with bigger promoters for bigger shows with bigger money.

To wit: Night Culture is a concert/events producer based in Houston with ties to mega-show coordinator Insomniac Events. Currently, Night Culture operates as the only publicly traded electronic dance music concert company in existence.

They've booked world-class EDM acts, Tiësto, deadmau5, Afrojack, Will.i.am. and more. In an ultracompetitive market, they are thriving. And recently they began booking dubstep acts.

"Gritsy did awesome with [AURA System's] Wall of Bass™ and introducing Houston to the national market," says Night Culture's Ron Madriz. "And now we're starting to see where the bigger shows are coming in now."

A Night Culture show can draw 2,000 concertgoers, easy.

"The main thing I have noticed is the use of hard-ticket venues rather than nightclubs," says 12th Planet when asked about the difference between groups putting on dubstep shows before it was popular and promoters booking shows now.

"People like Live Nation, Insomniac and Golden Voice have really started taking notice to the genre, and it shows in the shows that they buy," he says. "Like, five years ago, I could not think of one hard-ticket venue that would even take the risk of doing a dubstep show."

This is a logical extension of dubstep's success, and basically the foundation of capitalism. But that doesn't make it any more palatable for smaller camps like Gritsy that are not able to compete.

"I knew this was coming when I started Gritsy," says Kurian. "It didn't dawn on me how big everything was until Skrillex happened.

"Initially, sure, I was a little frustrated. I wanna book a guy and we offer him this much and then a company that doesn't really have a connection with the music comes in and gives him that much? What can you do?

"Everyone has parts of the scene that they play too. Critically, one might be better-received or something like that, but that's not a call that needs to be made. If Skrillex comes to town, and one out of ten people that see him dig a little deeper into the history, they'll find us.

"Happiness is concentrating on what you have, and we have a pretty good thing."
_____________________

It is 1:16 a.m. on a Sunday, but really it's still a Saturday night.

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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

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

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.

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.

SS
SS

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

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.

Basslover
Basslover

learn to spell when giving props homie !

Josh
Josh

Dubstep: serious fuckin business

Erin
Erin

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

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.

 
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