Rusko, Doorly Warehouse Live May 7, 2011
See more young local dubsteppers from Saturday in our slideshow.
As any cranky old scenester will tell you, there comes a time when you feel that your favorite underground and underappreciated art form has been co-opted and corrupted. Usually, this perversion of purity occurs when someone other than people with the purest of intentions decides to push this new genre (not to mention the occasional scene-specific microgenre) into some unfortunate new direction.
Such culprits range from record-company types in search of a new cash cow and acolytes and underlings who weren't part of the original troupe of true believers to a former true believer with some sort of axe to grind.
In the case of Rusko and dubstep, however, none of the usual generalizations ring true. The guy has been around the UK's dubstep scene for several years, releasing a slew of singles along with a fantastic Fabriclive mixtape (#37, partnered with Caspa) before stepping into the relative electro "spotlight" last year with O.M.G.
Yet instead of the usual sort of gloom-and-doom soundscapes crafted by Burial, Kode9, and the Hyperdub collective (much less that scene's angry little brother, grime), Rusko has been at the forefront of taking dubstep's wobbly basslines and spectral sound effects and pairing them with the sort of driving, uptempo sounds traditionally associated with drum-and-bass, much less old-school house).
The result of all this supposed genre disloyalty is dubstep's increased popularity amongst American youth, specifically new-school rave kids, frat daddies, and the types of folks you might see dancing in Washington Avenue clubs. Referred to in some circles by the cynical moniker "brostep," Rusko brought this high-energy take on dubstep to Warehouse Live Saturday night, and received an enthusiastic, over-the-top response from the sold-out crowd.
On average, Aftermath would have placed the average age of attendees at this all-ages show as college-aged kids who can't legally purchase alcohol yet. Young'uns were slathered in either copious amounts of neon or jeans, T-shirts, and trainers, while their relative elders were dressed as if they were at a hopping club - polos and nice jeans for guys, short skirts and heels for the ladies.
No matter the dress, people came ready to party late into the night, and Rusko, with tourmate Doorly, were more than happy to accommodate anyone hungry for a good time.
After a DJ from the Gritsy crew (whose name we never heard) warmed things up until a bit past 11 p.m., Doorly then played an hourlong set of his own, marrying some two-step to thick bass and then pouring in some jungle, '90s house, and some basic, club-friendly fare. While there weren't the sort of big bass drops or heavy wobble we tend to prefer in our dubstep, the crowd really didn't seem to care about our preferences, instead choosing to eat up everything that Doorly was serving with eager abandon.
When the DJ ended his set by sampling Lil' Wayne's "6 Foot 7" along with some chunks from Dr. Dre's The Chronic, the crowd roared its approval.
After the briefest of intermissions, Rusko hit the state at 12:30 a.m., flanked by "RUSKO" emblazoned in flashing, pulsing light bulbs, with each letter independently rising up from or down to the stage in time with the music. It was like something out of a DJ AM or Steve Aoki show, but just a dubstep version of such, as the music did possess those trappings - chill moments, thick bass, waggling tempos, and weird sound effects.
What was different was that the overall feel of the set was that of an outrageous, chaotic, frenzied party atmosphere. Rusko himself bounded and bounced around his DJ booth for his entire time on stage, frequently screaming into the microphone different aphorisms that basically all amounted to - "Let's party!"
Aftermath would be remiss and petulant to find fault in Rusko's presentation or his dedication to his craft - it might not be our style, but he's good at what he does. He received an exultant, exuberant response from the throngs of people throughout his 90-minute set, which maintained a terrific pace and flow.
It's obvious that Rusko isn't interested in making gloomy music for music nerds who sit around in their flats listening to their limited edition 12" singles in expensive headphones. It seems that he would rather be a crowd-pleasing DJ who just happens to have a background in dubstep, thus allowing him to put a different spin on the sort of music that clubgoers tend to enjoy.
Our proof: Anytime you can play a supposed dubstep set that receives raised hands, fist pumps, and screams for your inclusion of both Britney Spears' "Till The World Ends" and Tupac & Dr. Dre's "California Love," you're aiming for success on a pop-star level.
Personal Bias: I like gloomy, insular dubstep. I don't like noisy crowds filled with people waving around glowsticks.
The Crowd: Lots of teenagers, and lots of young college-aged folks. I swear I saw at least two or three kids wearing varsity sweaters from their private high school.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Overheard In the Crowd: "This is the most bizarre, fucked-up prom I've ever seen!"; "Who knew that high-school kids from the suburbs even knew about dubstep, much less were able to convince their parents to let them drive into town for a dance party on the night before Mother's Day?"
Random Notebook Dump: Rusko is the Greg Gillis/Girl Talk of the dubstep set.