A night doused with precipitation and subsonic frequencies arrived at 1015 Folsom in San Francisco this Thursday, where footwork and dubstep duo DJ Rashad and Digital Mystikz (UK producers Mala and Coki) headlined as part of Noisepop 2014.
DJ Rashad’s set was largely comprised of tracks from his recent album, Double Cup, which was released in November on Hyperdub. Rashad’s songs, characterized by fast rhythms, sharp Roland kicks and claps, and intermixed with repetitive soul sampling, quickly energized a previously stale crowd.
Rashad opened with his most soulful song, “Feelin,” and then mixed in more Double Cup songs such as “Pass that Shit,” “She a Go,” and “I Don’t Give a Fuck.”
The crowd — predominantly male, white, and 20-something — nodded their heads and shuffled their feet in accordance with the 150-160 beat-per-minute rhythms. Unfortunately, no one attempted to emulate the footwork dance style.
At the set’s high point, Rashad mixed Mala’s slow and seductive song, “Alicia,” with his own “Kush Ain’t Loud.” Although the mix was an unlikely pairing, the mashup soothed the tension of footwork’s high bpm frenzy and foreshadowed the downtempo style provided by Digital Mystikz’s set.
Although the beat slowed as Digital Mystikz replaced DJ Rashad onstage, the crowd’s excitement grew tenfold. Digital Mystikz are pioneers of a niche South London dubstep scene in the early 2000s where they played bimonthly at DMZ clubnights, an epicenter of the original dubstep scene. While it’s been nearly a decade since those days, Digital Mystikz played with same fervor that would eventually popularize dubstep, transforming the genre from a well kept secret to an international phenomena in 2009.
The weight of Digital Mystikz’s bass breaks literally rattled the floorboards of the venue. Digital Mystikz played a number of songs off their 2010 album, Return to Space. Songs like “Unexpected” built heavy bass alongside two-step percussion patterns accompanied by softer chime melodies which glide over the beat like a balmy wind.
As the clock struck 2 a.m., Digital Mystikz continued to play into the later part of the evening. Somewhat tired, the crowd meditated on the density of the bass. Taking the queue of the crowd’s calming demeanor, Mala spun some lighter Reggae and Dub tracks to curtail their set.
After over four hours of heavy bass, claps, and breaks, the crowd cooled off in the moist air outside, under a cloud-covered San Francisco night sky. Beyond our baggy eyes, ringing ears, worn clothes, and sore feet, we reveled in our shared belongingness to these niche electronic communities. It seemed as if we had just walked outside of Chicago’s Footwork Battlegroundz or South London’s DMZ clubnight on a regular weekday night.