Written by Alex Frampton
When it comes to live DnB, I’m a big believer that the best shows are those which are truly immersive. Big sounds, unreal visuals and live effects can be used to transform simple raves into unforgettable experiences where artists tell stories through electronic bass-driven music.
Given that this incredibly preachy opening paragraph is my actual opinion, I was pretty gassed when Dimension announced a world first ‘live’ performance, promising an immersive and powerful sensory experience, the likes of which Drum & Bass has never seen before. For those that are not familiar with London based DJ Rob Etheridge aka Dimension, he was responsible for the massive track, Desire which was produced in collaboration with SubFocus in 2018. He is revered for making tracks which combine hardcore DnB with distinctive melodies, earning him mainstream popularity alongside his cult following within the bass music world. His live performances are epic and often depict stories with dramatic black and white visuals adding an extra element to his killer, refined tracks.
On Saturday night in the Electric Brixton, he delivered this in a bigger way than ever before. Rather than stepping behind the standard Pioneer CDJs, Dimension put together a unique live performance, taking control of a 100kg see-through synthesiser which was constructed by technicians who worked on Star Wars and Game of Thrones. As if this wasn’t extravagant enough, he played with the largest LED screen ever used in the venue to his back and 50 lights and laser walls to his front. This was certainly a night to remember.
When we arrived, the up and coming Brighton based DJ, 1991 was mid-way through a pumping, high energy set. Having seen a teaser of Dimension’s synth online beforehand, I was pretty hyped by the fact that 1991 was performing on the left-hand side of the stage, with the centre taken up by a sheet covering something big, the outline of which looked very synthy. I bet you’re wondering what this could have been.
After an unreal set, featuring some original bangers - Midnight and Kings & Queens to name but a few – it was time for 1991 to say goodbye and the technicians to start getting ready for the main act. Following a short wait, Dimension made his way to the main stage, with a deafeningly loud chorus of adoring fans and his hit Devotion combining to form the soundtrack of what was a dramatic entrance. As soon as he stepped up to his synthesiser, it was clear that this was a wildly different DnB performance. His bespoke controller contained 9 different instruments which allowed him to improvise and remix his original tracks live. As such his undivided attention was given to this almost alien looking console which allowed him to distort his tracks on stage.
The visuals at this show where quite simply unreal. Dimension and his team had gone to town on the video production, as the crowd was treated to unique visuals which told a story for each of his tracks. Be it simple black and white flashes of Rob himself, snarling wolves, skinheads screaming at each other or insurgents in a Toyota pick-up, the display made for a show which was truly multi-dimensional (If you’ll pardon the pun). For me the highlight of his performance was during If You Want Too when he departed the stage mid-song. He returned much to the crowd’s amazement wielding a see-through guitar, on which he proceeded to strum out the song’s brilliant bassline hook.
After an hour and a half of what was a live dance masterclass, Dimension took a bow, caught the roses and took his leave. What came next was a classic jump up B2B from Upgrade and Turno followed by a strong closing set from Ekko and Sidetrack. No doubt, this was a bit of a hazy memory for those who stayed until 5am.
What certainly won’t be a hazy memory is the hour and a half in which one of the UK’s finest producers joined the likes of Pendulum, Chase & Status and Wilkinson in the hall of fame for live DnB performers. Dimension continues to showcase his artistic flair, which goes beyond just music, as he successfully projects his dark, gothic and mad-science inspired vision onto not just ravers but mainstream music fans. Let’s just hope that his live debut won’t be his last.