I had been hearing for weeks about the Never Say Die showcase that was slated to take over Girls and Boys at Webster Hall last Friday night. The lineup included a multitude of hard-hitting dubstep artists including Laxx, Must Die!, Skism, and Eptic. Most of my basshead friends were left collecting their jaws off the floor when they'd originally heard of the event. Still being the novice that I am in the bass world, I was left with no real scale of how ridiculous this event was sure to be. I let my curiosity get the better of me and despite originally having the night off, I packed my gear and headed to Webster Hall to see what all the fuss was about.
I found out a photographer buddy of mine from Boston, Adam Straughn, was trying to attend the show, so I got us in to do some tandem shooting. We got through the doors right as Skism was tearing through his menacingly mechanical set. The sonic bombardment was relative to a symphony of robots battling. His sound is reminiscent of Excision's diabolical production of screeching synths laced with the sounds of an exploding transformer. The grand ballroom became a headbanger's ball as the night progressed.
Following Skism was LAXX, a producer from the UK who mixed a perfect blend of electro, trap, and dubstep into a continuous brand of genre bending sound. His set rounded out the dubby and glitchy sound that was present throughout the showcase. Highlighting tracks from his recent EP "Twitch Pts. 1&2," the towering producer played the crowd perfectly. At one point, he brought the crowd into a frenzy with a remix of "Deep Down Low" after instructing them to get as low as possible and jump with the drop. Like the name of his EP, LAXX is the self described pioneer of the "twitch" subgenre, a mashup of bass music styles that offer something for anyone that loves heavy bass.
Up next was Must Die!, whose monstrous builds and drops had the stacks of speakers on stage rocking back and forth through the entirety of his set. I remember standing next to them as his set began and feeling the vibration of not only the bass, but the back and forth rocking of the speakers. I was amazed, yet slightly terrified, at the pure physicality of the bass coming from Must Die's mix. The amount of times I felt the venue should have collapsed were many, but exciting nonetheless. Not only a member of Never Say Die, but also OWSLA, it's obvious that Must Die! was destined to bring out a big mix of dubstep and drum and bass.
The climax of the night was with Eptic, the Belgian producer who has become known for his pure, unadulterated dubstep. During his set I made my way out onto the floor of the Grand Ballroom; without my camera, of course. The churning mess of moshers, headbangers, and bass-fanatics was ravenous, chomping at the bit for each drop as Eptic calmly wove his way through a mix of screaming synths and bone crushing bass. I had heard good things about what Eptic brought to the table, but this was something I couldn't have been prepared for. My good friend Matt, and my sire into the world of bass music told me this show was going to be "filthy," and that was quite a bit of an understatement.
Once again I found myself shocked that Webster Hall's floor was able to sustain the insanity that took place in the Grand Ballroom that night, but the historic venue proved once again why producers and fans of all walks of life continue to gather there. There are very few places I would catch a show like the Never Say Die showcase, and I think they chose the absolute best place to have it.
Shawn Russell Johnson: