"It's all about the bass", said UK Reggae legend Don Letts as I asked him to sum up the night in a few words. And all about the bass it was! Camden Roundhouse's amazing soundproofing meant even upon approaching the doors of the venue, it was unapparent as to what aural slaughter was about to me witnessed.
Picture 4 of London's biggest and best soundsystems filling one huge theatre hall; Reggae/Dub dons Channel One soundsystem were playing on the NoiseControlAudio rig, Skream and Benga were on the Void Acoustics rig, Goldie's Metalheadz on the TurboSoundAspect rig, and finally Soul Jazz Recordings on the Funktion One rig.
For anyone thats not been to a soundclash before, imagine each rig lined up taking turns to show the others, and more importantly the ravers in the dance, that they are the best; that they bring the freshet dubs, tightest mixing and baddest selection.
Hosted by Don Letts himself, and with the night named after his musically diverse and intelligent BBC Radio 6 show "Culture Clash", he oversaw events and decided on the theme of each round, some included were 'Biggest tunes in the bag' and 'mixing it up time'.
All crews smashed it, standardly, with the sound on every soundsystem individually puitting large scale national events such as the Warehouse Project Mcr to shame.
It was an incredible experience to witness the best DJs around today on the best systems switching every 15 minutes or so!
Channel One kept it real, dropping nothing but roots and culture. At one point, Mikey Dread and Ras Kayley stated to the crowd, (at the same time directing it to a very lively and high-spirited Skream across the room), that "Who will be remembered in 20 years time eh? We.. are the teachers. We… are the givers… Rastafari!". However throughout they never failed to show a presence of humbleness and gratitude towards the other crews and the crowd alike.
Metalheadz had a full stage from start to finish, with some unexpected special guests such as Dizze Rascal, Dynamite MC and Vancouver's B-Traits making frequent onstage appearances. If only Dizze Rascal had embraced the mic, enhancing Andy C's already filthy set!? Goldie dropped some bangers such as a Smells like teen Spirit and Benga n Coki - Night double drop, and devasted the dubstep system with an exclusive Katy B dubplate bigging up the Metalheadz movement.
MC GQ provided lyrical entertainment and good crowd interaction, and Shy and Storm provided massive bass filled tune after tune, playing both Drum n Bass and Dubstep.
Skream and Benga's crew had the crowd going crazy, with MC Nomad leading the crowds skanking. Mostly perfect mixing and diversity in selection (Snoop Dogg and Biggie tunes were played in Skreams set), all on an outstanding Void Acoustics soundsytem, meant there was little to fault about these dubstup pioneers, and they definitely made it clear that dubstep has made it's mark on the music scene in a big way, and that it was them that made it, and the they are here to stay!
Soul Jazz Records, with 100% Dynamite definitely got the award for diversity and outstanding original selection of funk, soul reggae and hippo, they even broke out into some oldskool Ragga Jungle. However due to a few mixing mistakes and the contrast between their laid back musical selection and the other 3 rigs' constant intense bass filled tunes meant Soul Jazz were clearly out of the competition and the crowd were left to decide who reigned as Culture Clash winners.
It was very close as all had strong crowd backing and deserved credibility, however it was decided after several recalls and roughly a thousand shouting ravers that Channel One were chosen champions. They acted as if they always knew they would win against their junior peers and blasted another 20minutes through the amazing NoiseControlAudio soudsystem.
The event itself was a spectacle and the Red Bull Music Academy should definitely consider hosting such clashes of sound and culture elsewhere in the UK, as it adds to the musical community in a special way that brings unity to the soundsystem music culture thats not possible with standard clubnights that we all attend on such frequent occasions, it almost aft a whole new point to raving. Watch out for a soundclash near you, and go to it!
Photos by Tim Kantoch
Listen to the recordings from the night here on the Red Bull Music Academy website ...