Friday, March 11, 2011

A Brief History of WMC Dubstep

With all the Winter Music Conference mania running around South Florida right now, I thought I would re-blog the article I wrote for last year about dubstep's history at the annual conference.

The history of dubstep in Miami goes back a little further than most people think. Beatcamp’s own TS Heritage played a dubstep set back at the Laundry Bar in 2006. Also at Laundry Bar around the same time Martyn mixed his atmospheric brand of dubstep with drum and bass for a small crowd. Even Broward county got in on the action back in early 2007 when two of Florida’s first dubstep DJs, Orlando’s Redcoat and Norbel brought heavy dubstep bass to Roxanne’s in Fort Lauderdale. A few months later Miami’s own Gooddroid was playing dubstep regularly on Thursday nights at the now closed Soho Lounge. But the spark that fully set the fire ablaze happened on September 21st 2007, that night Londoners Skream and Mala’s amazing display of sub-sonic mastery destroyed any negative preconceptions many had at the time and really built the foundation for dubstep in the magic city.

Winter Music Conference 2008 was the first year dubstep was fully represented at the conference. Although since 2002 the yearly Transatlantic showcase featured U.K. and American garage and 2step, it wasn’t until ‘08 that we got dubstep packaged in its current incantation and we got it in heavy doses. Benga’s first WMC performance came thanks to Dj Zinc’s Bassrush party. The lineup was mostly drum and bass but the dubstep faithful who waited till the wee hours for Benga’s set got a legendary performance that even had Goldie reaching across Benga and rewinding a track. Another highlight of WMC 2008 and possibly the biggest dubstep highlight of all was Plastician’s insane set during Friday night’s legendary Viram showcase. Tucked away in the side-room of a massive drum and bass event, a packed group of energetic dubstep ravers lost all control. Plastician who was already no stranger to Miami rocked the house like he owned the town. For nearly 4 hours Plastician dropped so much bass we all had to practically leave the club in wheelchairs. Saturday afternoon’s Destruction event was a great way to experience sub-bass frequencies chilling poolside or underwater. The world renowned Bomb Squad joined Mala, Skream, and long time U.S. representatives Moldy and Sam XL on the decks. A fun day in the sun and a great warm up for what was to be the main dubstep event of WMC 2008, London Bass. The Laundry Bar on South Beach was already home to dubstep in Miami so it made sense for the location to house the premiere WMC dubstep event. Mala and Skream replicated their September performance but this time for an international crowd of partygoers. The duo’s combination of face melting bass drops and heavy rollers was the perfect way to end an exciting and exhausting week of events.

As usual WMC 2009 was emphatically anticipated but nothing could of prepared me for the massive wave of support dubstep received and seemingly out of nowhere. Dj Craze and Shy Fx’s Bang Bang party was the real eye-opener that illustrated just how far bass music had come in a short time. It was a ridiculous party on a Wednesday night that really made you think, if this was WMC Wednesday then what was the weekend going to be like? With standout sets from Plastician, Benga, MRK1, and 12th Planet outside in the court yard of downtown’s The White Room and the crowd going bananas all night it really felt like a turning point for Miami dubstep. Skream and Mala’s second round of London Bass hit music conference attendees the very next night. It went down once again at the staple of the Miami scene and unfortunately no longer open Laundry Bar, the venue that felt like it was a home away from home for many original Miami dubsteppers.

Possibly the biggest night for dubstep during the 2009 conference went down at Soho Studios which was the site of the always quality Viram event that’s been an annual mainstay featuring the best from Andy C’s Ram Records and Ed Rush and Optical’s Virus Recordings. This particular year the union extended further to include easily the largest international breakbeat organization, Future Sounds of Breaks. Just like the previous year at Viram, Basshead Music was in charge of the dubstep area so naturally the results were nothing less then massive. Skream and Benga went back to back and their party style jump up bass had the outdoor crowd rocking. I will have to admit though Mala’s set at Viram/FSOB was the highlight of my WMC. Deep meditation style done at its finest and truthfully all the clich├ęs that get thrown around about music taking you on a journey certainly applied in this case. Not to be outdone, Rusko’s first Miami appearance came during WMC 2009. His set for the Mad Decent/Turntablelab/Trouble & Bass party at the O.H.W.O.W. gallery was crazy fun and energetic. Backed up by MC Rod Azlan, the sweat filled garage rave vibes were out in full force with other acts on the line-up like Diplo, Dj Sega, and Drop The Lime.

Now WMC 2010 promises to raise the bar even higher. This is going to be my 10th consecutive conference and I can’t even remember another time where the buzz building up to March was so widespread. Events heavy on dubstep are scheduled for every night of the week and in some cases, multiple dubstep events happening on the same night. With so many options, it’s exciting to think about all the potentially great performances were in store for. If the last two years were any preview, dubstep could be up to the challenge of completely owning this year’s WMC and many more to come.

One thing I was right about was dubstep's dominance over the last year's conference, at least for underground music. It was impossible to keep track of all the shows unless you were a student at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters and could multiply yourself into five different ravers just to be everywhere at once. So far 2011 is shaping up to be another one for the record books. Despite all the controversy with UMF, some amazing shows have been scheduled for both weeks. Make sure to drink plenty of water and get a few hours of sleep in there when you can.


  1. Great write up LOS. You brought back a bunch of great memories for me.

  2. Big Up Nome. You been there since the beginning homie.

  3. Wow to think I was oblivious of this.

    Big ups to the dubstep scene!

  4. Nice review ... It's hard to believe it's been ten years since we first played dubstep at BeatCamp. That's right folks, back in the days of Beat Camp @ The Mission we used to drop dubstep in the second floor room ... back when Turn U On and Horsepower Productions were the sum total of all dubstep production. Well, in my opinion it was Nico and the Horsepower Crew that coined the term dubstep. We debated so many times as to whether we should include the term "dubstep" in the Transatlantic WMC flyers, but like Grime at the time, it was decided that UKG was a good enough title to cver everything UK Bass related. How much things have changed ... UKG / 2step is now the sub-genre, grime is "old school" and dubstep is the grand champion of the underground bass scene. I only wish I was still down there with my Miami crew to experience the WMC madness and witness how far it has come over the years. Shouts out to BassHead, Get Low, Jsin, SomeJerk, Goodroid, and all the crews that took it to the next level!

  5. Big Ups to you Toby for paving the way! SEEN!

  6. It's pretty incredible to see just how far this music has come.

    I remember playing UKG/2Step outside at The Edge in 1999-2000 and thinking "I wonder where this is headed". Amazing to see how the sound has progressed, and influenced so many other genres as well.

    Respect to everyone involved.