Ten Years Of DBE
At Maneki, we simply cannot get enough of the Midlands at the moment, tell that one to your middle-class parents and watch them squirm. Yes with our ears just about done ringing from Square One back in October the week before (go on read that review after….be a darl) it was time to hit the road jack the raving lad once more as we headed to my old uni, I say old, it was about five minutes ago, for 10 years of DBE. Our second birthday celebration in two weeks, this was something truly special, for those unfamiliar with it, DBE is the cornerstone of music culture at Loughborough University, bringing light to the dull void that stretches between junction 21 and 24 of the M1.
After snagging the last couple of McMuffins left at St.Albans McDonalds (except for Stephen, he went for nuggets cause he’s a basic Fiat 500 boy) we rocked up to Loughborough on a gloriously sunny Octobers afternoon, and the whole scene around the students union was alive with the prospect of the 13 hour-long party we were about to witness. After reminiscing with some of the residents and some old friends, the party began.
Disco Iglu: DBE Does Disco
The centrepiece of the points of interest during the day was the Disco Iglu stage, what was it like you ask? Well, I mean...exactly what it says on the tin, a bloody great inflatable iglu with disco playing inside it. This arena was perched out front and centre nearest the queue and for that reason, it got busy pretty darn fast….but because of the vibe in there, it never emptied. We loved it, with the sun beating down outside and the floral shirt and shades brigade out in full force, what better than an ice cool groove about in a palm frond decked iglu with the sensational melodies of disco, 80s groove and a tiny single serving portion of acid house thrown in for good measure.
We caught the likes of Gawler and Sleazy Wonder bring the heat behind the turntables before giving way to two statements in the past and present of house music. First PBR Streetgang, a duo whose unique nu-disco style has put them on musical maps from Dover to Dunfermline over the past couple of years. They were followed up closely by the unbridled legend Marshall Jefferson, a man whose musical stylings in the late 80s going forward, made a lasting impression on how DJs of now craft a four to the floor beat. The moment he dropped ‘Move Your Body’ will stay with me for a lifetime as it has for house fans stretching back the last 30 years. Pure gold dust.
The Secret Stage
A hop skip and a jump from the Iglu was the secret stage. At first, I thought ‘Secret Stage’ was just going to be a lavish and fancy way of injecting excitement into one of the lesser profiting union bars, but no! I was totally wrong, as the secret stage came in the form of a sound system equipped retro Routemaster bus...asif we didn’t need any more reminding of how fun London transport could be with just a slightly more lapsed alcohol policy. It was incredible, parked up outside the main building with a large courtyard area serving as an excellent makeshift dance floor, and the sides of the bus draped in hanging records that shimmered in the autumn haze.
The bus didn’t move but the wheels certainly turned as the DBE legends Puyan, Puddy, Malfie and Benji blasted their tunes out all day long to a crowd that slowly built in size until it spilt out into the adjacent smoking area. The whole thing bounced ever so slightly from the thumping bass and the pulsing crowd motion. From the open top deck we got the best views of the party, and a mini open-air rave of its own broke out up there as Benji pummelled the fuck out of it on the floor below, but not before Malfie had tantalised the crowd with some of his brand new tunes which went down an absolute treat.
The only day venue that has been a more frequent feature on a DBE event of the past, was Fusion terrace. But no house on the menu this afternoon….and certainly no Mr.Brightside (I’m looking at you classic union nights), today we listen to drum and bass, and tonight we dine in hell. The role of the weather on the success of this area could not be understated. The terrace looked wicked in the sunshine, and it sounded even better when at 3 pm the switches got flicked and we were rolling, first with the grass-roots excellence of the LSU DJ’s and then with a bombardment of deep minimal and heavy rollers from KRS Skills.
At 5 O’Clock the dynamic duo GLXY made an appearance, we caught them at Kodiak a couple of weeks back and we’ve had nothing but good things to say since, and we’ll keep saying good stuff for the foreseeable future because they were incredible. Their set produced banger after banger after banger, from Untitled Horn by Spectrasoul, to the VIP of Cocooned by Bungle, S.P.Y’s filthy remix of Junglist by Congo Natty, Drop It Down by Calibre, Acid Fashion by Nazca Linez….the list goes on, they played an absolute blinder. And once they had jumped off the decks, they hung around to tell us about how they remember DBE from their days at Leicester uni and have always loved the energy the events bring.
Speaking on energy, no shortage of that followed when North Base showed up and tore what little roof that terrace area had to offer clean off, the whole area was bouncing for the full hour, especially the high tables, which had J-Silks spraying lyrical fire on top of for the duration. Our favourite set of this area though, and maybe even of the night, however, came from Mollie Collins.
A girl who is out there smashing it in every means how these days, whether it is holding down a residency on Kiss FM, or more modestly, holding a rank in our list of The Top 10 Powerhouse Female DJs (You know what to do). With sheer talent at her fingertips, her set reignited Faris and my love of jump up, that had been on a bit of gardening leave since Let It Roll. As the sun set and the temperature cooled, she brought true fire to the terrace, paired like a fine wine to a delicious meal with the legendary IC3, whose MCing was pitch and pace perfect to the last syllable. His showmanship was among the best I had ever seen, a true crowd pleaser. If you wondered where all the energy in the crowd was coming from….it was from all them Duracell Rabbits that Mollie and IC3 were pulling out of their twin turntable’d top hat. nts bring.
After the sun finally dipped behind the horizon beyond the looming industrial skeletons of East Midlands Parkway, we turned and headed indoors for the latter half of proceedings, where we swapped jumpers for t-shirts, shouts for sweat and became creatures of the night.
With the terrace conquered, we started out in Fusions main room, which was playing host to DBE’s most famous house DJs Jake Twell and the man himself Pasquale. Fusion is a staple arena at every DBE and one that never ceases to tread the line between mayhem and mastery ever so well. We navigated the cables yonder the decks to get some excellent footage on easily the most animated crowd of the whole event, losing their heads to the beats being audibly fed to them.
They were joined by a trio of house heavyweight headliners, Elliot Adamson, Marc Roberts, Alex Virgo and Big Miz, bringing their collective expertise from all four corners to ensure that the whole top floor of the building was thumping until the wee hours of the morning. The atmosphere in the room was wicked, no sign of a bad time at all….well aside from the couple arguing, but I suppose did you ever even go to Fusion if you didn’t see a tantrum play out in that narrow corridor between the loo and the staircase to JC’s?
When we had done with all the upbeat stuff, we figured we would turn the dial right the fuck the other way with the darkest shit we could find. Luckily there was a party going down in Cogz that delivered just that as the boys from Juan Forte were taking Cogs by force. The Juan Forte Cartel is a Mexican themed group of grime and medi bandits who hail from Loughborough uni and the surrounding area, and their stage presence on the evening almost brought a tear to my eye, as they were an organisation that stemmed from the growing music culture in Loughborough, of which DBE has played a central role.
We could feel the subs murmur before we had even begun to think about descending the stairs, and once we got in there, it was like being inside a piece of wall insulation that was being fiercely drilled through. Cogs gave the cartel an intimate vibe for them to utilise to great effect, leading to a diehard crowd slowing knee dropping to the beat. They also brought some fat stacks and impressive sound system with them that wouldn't look out of place at Outlook festival. Suffice to say the sound was so nuts, that at one point I walked past what I thought was a normal wall, only to realise that it was a huge speaker set after I noticed that I suddenly no longer had any working bones.
Their headliner came in the form of Plastician, another absolute monolith to bass music culture, I mean this guy has collabed with Skepta for fuck's sake. His music is in my opinion somewhat illustrative of the dark, urban grittiness that has made the UK music scene such a worldwide success, and he has the one DJ that every other headliner of the festival unanimously professed their desire to witness perform. We could certainly see why because the man seemed to have a sort of 6th sense of knowing exactly what the audience wants, and then promptly giving it to them. His set was a minute by minute celebration of the grime and dub culture that Juan Forte fly the flag for….and when he played Topper Top, oh my lord what a reaction and what a madness. R.I.P Stormin, you’ll be missed.
Last but by no means least, we had Room one to visit, by far the largest capacity arena across the day and night, and unsurprising given its visual display possibilities and favour with the locals. Here we managed to jump about on stage watching the madness that goes off at a DBE night unfold in all of its spectacular glory. We got in there just Rinse resident and party queen Emerald set off.
We didn’t really know what to expect as we hadn’t heard too much about her. Well, I knew who she was from that time I got overground for 14 stops only to be greeted by a one in one out policy at Dalston rooftop (some things are too good to be true) and didn't get to see her play! Boy did she surprise us though, she glided about behind the decks with unparalleled grace and confidence, and overall just looked like she was at one with the music from the moment she took control of the booth. Her unique blend of bass house and garage with a hint of afrobeats went down an absolute storm. We loved every minute and so did the rest of the room by the sounds of things, we hope to catch her again soon, and she rivalled Collins for the best set of the event.
She was followed up by another Rinse regular, Oneman who rocked the decks with a mix and blend of all things fabulous from the world of grime, bassline, garage and dnb. By this point the room was absolutely seething, a vast sea of raised hands gun fingering and reaching for more energy, and Oneman was all too happy to provide Oneman….a man in a league of his own.
Before we turned and tailed to hit the M1 and ride into the earning morning twilight, we caught the last and arguably biggest headliner of the night, the boys from whom the term ‘leng’ has become a universally coined phrase in bass music culture. My Nu Leng have gone over the past 4 or so years, from Black Butter to white knights of bassline and bass house, even stopping briefly to collaborate over some dnb affairs on Shogun. They never fail to rock a dance floor until the gloss cover has scratched off and tonight was no exception. With dread banging it over the mic and the room at max capacity, they banged people's expectations into the middle of next week. By the time we hit the road, we had more energy than when we had set off almost a full 20 hours prior, a wicked end to an incredible display on the part of DBE.
As someone who has been partying at DBE on a regular basis for the last 4 years, I have to say that this one was the best I have ever been too, and the first and incredibly high bar for my associates. DBE is the crown jewel in the nightlife that supports the students of Loughborough, in fact, it is much a part of Loughborough's culture as BUCS sport and active wear. The last ten years have seen this twinkle in the eye of a certain Italian DJ become a full-fledged bass powerhouse that is keeping people saying all the right things about the Midlands. This party was the spectacular realisation of all of the last decades' hard work, and the work has certainly paid off.