Being a Dubstep fan in America can be rough. Rarely do you see lineups outside the "brostep" sphere come to town, and even most "Dubstep" oriented festivals in the states are really EDM events where the three actual Dubstep acts booked are relegated to a side-stage with a half-powered sound system and a bunch of confused looking bros/ kandi-chicks all looking for a pill or a fuck. The scene can be brutal for those who just want to enjoy Dub culture with passionate fans and a proper system. This is why event companies like Parameter in San Francisco are so indispensable, so vital to the dance community at large. Parameter nights are stacked with integrity. Ranging from Minimal House and Techno, to Dubstep, Grime, and Garage, these are musical events for musical heads, not the slack-jawed masses fiending after drops like the molly they hope to score off of that "chill-seeming" dude with the backpack in the dance. Lineup after lineup, Parameter consistently brings the most respected talent to The Bay, while any unknowns on the bill are guaranteed to be diamonds in the rough. If you couldn't tell yet, I'm a fan of what they do. Because of this I make a point of trying to get to every Parameter night that I can, and as a Dubstep/ Grime lover, February 5th (2016) with Saule, Swindle, Commodo, and Truth was a night I simply could not miss.
After an impressive back-to-back opening set from Parameter and Outpost regulars Dhra and CM-4, Bay Area native and Gourmet Beats alum, Saule, took to the decks for a dubplate filled set. Saule is a mainstay of the local Bass music community and each of his sets contains more mind bending tunes than the last. Drawing upon a wide network of both underground and well known producers across the globe, Saule's bag of dubs is only upstaged by his own tracks. Being part of the American scene while operating within the global community, Saule seems to make a point of championing sounds from up-and-comers within the states, whilst never neglecting the classics as well as tunes from up-and-comers abroad. Saule's unique productions lend themselves perfectly to his creatively mixed sets. Tunes like Saule's "Kalakuta", forthcoming Gourmet Beats 005, full of dubbed out delays and reverb affected percussion, then eventually an amazing horn sample completely out of left field, lend themselves so well to these heavy-hitting double drops which Saule employed heavily and mercilessly. To the room full of the local deep massive, many of whom knowing him on a personal level, even more hearing him for the first time, Saule could seemingly do no wrong behind the the decks. Each track eliciting yelps of excitement and howls of approval, he kept the crowd in the palm of his hand. This was my second time seeing Saule perform, and he certainly does not disappoint. It was an intricate, unfamiliar, weighty, and deeply gratifying set.
Taking over after Saule was none other than Deep Medi alum, and our evening's Butterz representative: Swindle. Starting out with his emotional intro tune "Gotta Do", Swindle immediately dropped into some grime instrumentals. Swindle's own productions dominated the mix, but we were treated to a huge selection ranging across the UK's best in bass music. Swindle's set could be described as a Fabric night on tour. Furiously mixing between Grime, Garage, Dubstep, and even DNB seamlessly and in no particular order, Swindle put on a hell of a show. Chopping the faders and manipulating fx like a madman, his performance was obscenely energetic. Tunes seemed to just melt by in succession. An expert crowd reader, Swindle knew just which tracks to let play out, and which to slam through. By the end of his set, the room was stifling. People danced a whole rave's worth in his hour and fifteen minutes, but were hungry for the next act. Swindle finished off his set with some Drum and Bass leading into his tune "Mad Ting" ft. JME which closed out his performance. It was a soulful, yet aggressive experience. Swindle's message of "peace, love, and music" was clear, and the venue was feeling it.
After a blistering set from Swindle, it was time for things to shift down into a darker gear. Commodo made his way to the booth for what was to be an unforgettable session. It's fair to say Commodo is one of the most creative and weird producers in the Dubstep/ Grime world at the moment, and his mix was no different. Starting out with "Subroc" by Eprom, Commodo curated a funky, absurdly bass-y, and incredibly interesting mix. Showing off several heavily anticipated dubplates (F_ck Mountain VIP, etc.), and a surprising amount of released music, Commodo put together a cavalcade of heavy hitters as well as some thoughtful moments of melody. At one point playing his edit of Kanye West's "All of the Lights", tracks varied heavily while consistently flexing the subs to their limits. Any fan of Commodo's would have been supremely satisfied (as I was), but this set was extremely accessible to those who may not have been familiar with his work. I brought a few friends who left as converts for certain. Commodo's expert use of the mixer's fx spiced up any slightly dull moment, maximizing the effect of every tune. Capping off his performance with (what I'm assuming was his own) remix of Sir Spyro's epic tune with Teddy Bruckshot, Lady Chann, and Killa P: Top A Top, Commodo delivered a sonically captivating, visceral mixing experience.
Closing out the evening, Andre from Truth stepped up to the plate. Aside from being world class talents, Truth has a special connection to the city's scene. With the other half of Truth, Tristan, living here at one point, and their label Deep, Dark, and Dangerous being partially managed locally, our community has fully embraced them and is lucky to host either of the Truth gents many times a year. One would think that for the amount they play in the city, we'd hear very similar sets or maybe just get tired of their sound, but this couldn't be further from the case. At this point I've seen Truth in excess of four times and each time is completely different from the last. Tristan and Andre have slightly differing mixing styles, and their track selection remains ever changing. It's no wonder either; between running Deep, Dark, and Dangerous and receiving dubplates from producers around the world as Truth, the amount of new, completely unheard tunes either of the two must have on hand at any given moment must be staggering. Starting out with something that I had honestly never heard before (someone who checks my video may end up calling ignorant for that one), Andre quickly moved through tunes old and new alike, absolutely assaulting the crowd with bass. I fully felt each thump of the kick, punching me in the chest as the system shook with power. The crowd was ready for it. It didn't matter that it was past 2am at this point, these were the loyalists who were here to get down. As the set went on, I literally felt my shirt literally shake around my neck when he dropped their tune "Monumental" ft. Ill Chill. The force of the air displaced by the subs was absolutely unreal. Screams for reloads dominated any emptiness in the room. Occasionally obliging, Andre played it close to the vest, allowing each tune to breathe, and only when absolutely necessary giving it the pull up. Every time I see either member of Truth perform, I always walk away with the same thought in my mind, "consummate professional". Both of their mixing is impeccable, but the way they handle the crowd (as Swindle did) is that of a seasoned performer. It was the perfect way to close the night. High energy, high impact, low frequencies.
This was certainly one for the record books. I rarely see this particular venue (F8) so crowded, and this night was absolutely wall to wall. Amazing sets in the main room across the board. Saule, Swindle, Commodo, and Truth each brought a piece of themselves to the table, and each audience member walked away feeling that energy. Parameter knows their clientele well, and this was only a teaser. The main event is reserved for April 8th (2016), at Public Works in downtown San Francisco, when Parameter will be hosting Mala, Gorgon Sound and an accompanying set as Kahn & Neek, as well as Om Unit for the Deep Medi 10 year anniversary tour. Be ready San Francisco massive, this one will be absolutely lit.
We've compiled some videos of the night on our Youtube which you can view below. We apologize for the low quality, the decision to profile this event came after the actual night so these were taken on an iPhone not a professional camera.