Dubstep is one of those genres that’s more often talked about than heard. A bass-heavy offshoot of UK garage, two-step, and dub, with dark, atmospheric production and languorous bass lines, it’s been championed by critics and DJs but has only recently has gained any traction in clubs outside its London stronghold. There are now signs that it’s emerging beyond the realm of the UK underground. This month will see the US release of two dubstep full-lengths: the sophomore disc by the producer Burial and a double CD compilation on the Skull Disco imprint, Soundboy Punishments.
In Boston, a number of DJs are dipping into dubstep, incorporating its deep bass wobble into sets at Enormous Room’s “Beat Research” night (every Monday) and “Leggo Dub” at the Middlesex Lounge (the next one is this Tuesday, October 30). But the city’s first club night devoted to the subterranean sounds of dubstep is a monthly called “Bassic.” Founded in June of this year, “Bassic” is run by four young DJs — Dabu (a/k/a Dan D’Aloisio), Damian Silva, Cotec (a/k/a Chris Ward), and Memory Trace (a/k/a Nick Dika) — known collectively as Soundbox Presents.
“We decided that Boston really needed something like this going on and we had better do it ourselves,” explains D’Aloisio. Prior to discovering Dubstep, he’d been a breaks DJ, but once he bought his first dubstep 12-inch, there was no turning back. He was intrigued by the genre’s flexibility, which allows him to fold a variety of styles — hip-hop, drum ’n’ bass, dub — into the mix. But it was also the brooding atmospherics and, naturally, sub-shredding bass that drew him in. So once he and his Soundbox compatriots decided to launch “Bassic,” the first order of business was to find a space with a system that could handle the strain — no mean feat in a city with a dearth of good PAs.
“We started searching for venues, and Peter [Fiumara], the owner of the Good Life, was very hip to the underground sound. He’s really passionate about new styles of music, and he’s got a great sound system, so as soon as we went there, we were sold.”
D’Aloisio adds that the key to the night’s success is rooting out innovative dubstep tracks by lesser-known producers as well as canonical artists like Kode9 or Shackleton. “Our night is the only strictly dubstep night in Boston where you’ll find the latest cutting-edge sounds. We put a lot of work into finding new stuff to keep people coming out. And we get a good turnout, because people can look forward to hearing the latest music. Our little circle of people expect us to really kill it.” (You can check out a recent mix by DJ Dabu at his MySpace page.)
With every month, the “Bassic” folks get more ambitious. In September, they brought in Headhunter from the influential UK imprint Tempa for his first Boston show. This Wednesday, their special Halloween Masquerade party will feature a set by Joe Nice, a celebrated and influential American dubstep producer.
“Joe Nice definitely gets the dubplates from all the biggest labels and producers, stuff that may never get released,” D’Aloisio points out. “We have him coming on Halloween, which is going to be enormous. He’s told us that he has a special bag of tricks that he’s going to unleash, so we’re really excited. It will be fun just see what he has to offer and see if the crowd really digs it. Because if you don’t know what dubstep is like, coming out and seeing Joe Nice is going to show you exactly what dubstep is. I mean, I’m afraid for the sound system.”
“BASSIC,” FEATURING JOE NICE | Good Life, 28 Kingston St, Boston | October 31 | 617.451.2622