By Oscar Mortimer
As the skies are open to reign in the week of British summer, my degree is coming to its climactic conclusion. For that reason, I have resounded myself to the life of Soundcloud mixes, questionable library food, and staring longingly out the window at the edgy art students as they frolic in the sunshine (get a real degree) that lies before me. But before I hit the books harder than a recruitment consultant at a day at the races, I thought I might savour one final taste of happiness by taking a trip to Stealth to see the folks at Square One, May the fourth be with me.
Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this son of York. Jayfor and Mileage I believe are their names, and they were back with a line-up to give the neighbours something to squawk about. I bumped into Jayfor at Rampage festival in Belgium, it's good to know that we both definitely survived, although there are parts of both of us which I’m sure are still stranded in Antwerp looking for the bus station and asking passers-by for a spare cigarette. I will gather them up when I return next year (10 out of 10 you should come too).
The hours before the rave were a bit of a struggle, I wasn't feeling in the best of states given that apparently, even going to the pub watch Arsenal play mediocre football and crash out of the Europa League, constitutes an excuse for me to consume an unhealthy volume of cheap larger. Hangover just about managed, I mustered the energy to get back on the wave and hop on the short train to Notts. My girlfriend, who had previously bailed because of 'work' had seen sense and decided to join me too, so the threat of crushing loneliness on the journey had subsided.
One can of Red Stripe later and I was standing front left, the musical stylings of Sub Antics welcoming me lovingly back for my long-awaited return to Stealth. His head bobbed excitedly up and down behind the decks as he unleashed a host of token rollers from the likes of Benny L and King of the Rollers, before dropping effortlessly into the unmistakably large Unglued bootleg of If We Ever. A tune that despite being yet unreleased, is making a convincing claim for DnB tune of the year. At this moment I felt my pulse rise and the first bead of sweat roll off my brow.
His set gradually wound down to its climax as the main room at stealth had slowly filled with Drum and Bass skankers eagerly awaiting the night's main event. Sub Antics handed over control of the room to one of the biggest duos in Drum and Bass, Calyx and Teebee. These two have a career in DnB that stretches back further than the line at a Supreme drop. Starting out as individual innovators, the two made their partnership a permanent fixture in 2012, releasing their groun dbreaking album 'All or Nothing'. I feel the need to mention this because the release of this album coincided with my awakening to the world of Drum and Bass.
I had listened to artists such as Noisia, DJ Marky, Pendulum and Chase and Status indiscriminately as a child, but it was only after the release of songs such as 'Pure Gold', 'Elevate this Sound' and 'Skank', and listening to Calyx and Teebee's incredible Radio One Essential Mix, that I truly understood the genre I had fallen in love with. For that reason, there is always a fleeting brush of sentiment tied to whenever I watch them play. And a three hour long set this time too! I'm not sure what payday loan company Jayfor had to approach in order to pull this one off, but I am certainly not complaining. I can think of no better way to spend three hours, well I mean other than watching every episode of series one to three of the Big Lez Show back to back (that'd be fackin skitz mate).
I'm not really sure where to begin with this set, I guess the first hour seems about right! The room felt almost silent for a moment before their set rumbled fourth with some dark rollers, almost like something out of a set by Perez or Kasra. Not their usual fare, but it makes sense given they had a full three hours to perform. If you are gonna go at it for 180 straight minutes, you might want to introduce some foreplay. Such gentlemen!
However, within 10 minutes the pleasantries had been shattered as they dropped into some heavy neuro which left me short one ear and one clean pair of boxer shorts! They then returned to wailing rollers, giving me some vital seconds to compose myself, dropping into Sinkhole by Mefjus. My personal fave off his newly released album, a song that spins a sinister tale and sounded perfect for the gloom within Stealth. Then came the moment they went on remix duty, their take on Pale Blue dot came scorching in, that iconic breakdown catching everyone off guard. I'm giggling like a piglet and everyone else is swearing and screaming before the room gets turned the fuck upside down. Simply Incredible!
This thumper then tagged in a second thumper in the form of their remix of Kingpin by Skream and Friction. Ever wanted to see a floppy-haired Southerner attempt to headbang whilst rapping lyrics by Scruffizer? Look no further than me whenever this song plays. Feeling already overwhelmed, I adjourned to the smoking area to catch my breath and fill it with carcinogens in time for act two.
I returned to find the dynamic due churning out some future bass stylings that took a leaf right out of 1991's book, showing yet more versatility in this set. My muscles then seized up as I heard the intro for Skank VIP creeping in over almost a full half minute. The excitement in the rave reached a fever pitch right before that unmistakeable drop happened and I felt like I was getting baptized into my first Drum and Bass rave all over again.
To round off, we were treated to some of the more seminal vocal songs from the two, that feature Calyx's talent as a singer. A notable track that came a cropper was Elevate this Sound, which is one of the few DnB songs which people can remember every word to, and this proved true at that moment as we all practiced our best karaoke skills. The tempo then switched up into a dancefloor styling, with their festival anthem Where We Go leading the charge, a simply put, ridiculous song that will take you from coma to full body spasm in 0.5 seconds.
The blissful three-hour journey into the music of Calyx and Teebee then reached its glorious climax with tracks such as the monstrous Get It Twisted, which rightly so, twisted my hand into the shape of a gun; and an innovative remix of Human by Rag and Bone man. Which beautifully blended the best of mainstream and the darker underground. The set in its entirety, left me totally in awe, certainly the best I had seen from them, and probably one of the best I have ever seen.
The decks then tumbled into the hands of Mr. be there be Square himself. A man who has a harder job than a one-armed bricklayer in Syria, having to religiously be the poor guy that follows the incredible headline acts he brings to Notts. However, I have over the past year come to expect nothing but consistent greatness from Jayfor. Tonight was no exception, he attacked the room, that was still reeling from the three relentless hours of Calyx and Teebee, with a sensational blend of his token neurofunk vibes, with elements of jump up and dancefloor thrown in for good measure. A highlight for me, was when he mixed in the floor filling anthem of Take You Higher by Wilkinson, with that DnB conservatives' guilty pleasure, of Tour by Macky G. Award for crowd reaction of the night goes to Jayfor for that one!
Four O'clock soon approached, and the cab rank and revision textbooks came a calling. And I made my leave into the warm spring night. Yet another stonker at Square One, and one that ushered in the summer sun in style! See you at the next one, provided I haven't overdosed