Published Nov 04, 2011While James Blake's turn from dubstep hero to piano balladeer irked a lot of his core audience, fellow Londoner Aaron Jerome, aka SBTRKT, managed to make the transition from EPs and singles to album artist with much more ease. His self-titled debut presented a soulful amalgam of all that's hot in bass music, and won him a ton of accolades and some famous friends in the process. After all, Drake popped up at Jerome's last Hogtown gig.
No superstar guests made an appearance on this night, but it was clear that word of the show had spread and a more fratboy-friendly element had infiltrated the crowd. Regardless of how they found out about the show, the crowd was highly receptive to Brooklynite AraabMUZIK. The producer attacked his two MPCs with abandon, positioning himself as the Eddie Van Halen of drum machines by having videos of his fancy handwork projected on the venue's walls. His short 30-minute set skewed away from the hip-hop work on which he first came to prominence, leaning heavy on the dance-oriented samples showcased on this year's Electronic Dream.
After a short break, Jerome and vocalist Sampha took the stage, introduced collectively by Jerome as SBTRKT. After opening with "Heatwave," Jerome went behind the drums at the front of the stage while Sampha took over frontman duties, delivering an impassioned version "Hold On." Decked out in tribal masks similar to the ones found on most of SBTRKT's album covers, the duo managed to squeeze in "Living Like I Do" before equipment malfunctions derailed the show for about five minutes. They recovered but lost much of the momentum created by the first trio of songs.
Jerome's insistence on moving back and forth between the drum set and his barrage of samplers and drum machines ensured that the start-stop vibe continued. But once he settled in on the drums and Sampha found his groove, the duo seemed unstoppable. Clear crowd favourite "Wildfire" was accompanied by computer-triggered vocals and a verse from Drake's remix, before the pair closed the night with one more track.
In 2011, it was supposed to be the year bass music broke through to the mainstream. And as has been noted by many critics, the genre's great white hypes -- James Blake and Jamie Woon -- failed in a certain regard. Yet time may prove that it was SBTRKT's clever melange that finally brought the bottom end to the masses.