This weekend just gone, British drum and bass label RAM Records decided to throw a two-date event across two venues in London. Friday night would be home to a headline-type performance from label founder and drum and bass pioneer- Andy C, along with supporting performances from June Miller and Teddy Killerz. While Saturday’s lineup would be stocked up with some of the label’s hottest talents including Calyx & Teebee, Culture Shock and Loadstar.
While tickets for Friday night at The Steelyard flew off the shelf and sold out fairly quickly, I still decided to cop a ticket for Saturday’s star-studded lineup, which was set to be held in East London, at The Oval Space. Somewhat annoyingly, we’d massively mis-judged the trip from Surrey and ended up arriving a little later than anticipated, resulting in missing one of the acts I’d wanted to see the most- Audio. Despite this, we arrived just in time for the start of Rene Lavice’s experimental set, while the night is of course a drum and bass-heavy night filled with more wobs than a Skrillex performance, Rene Lavice’s setlist was filled with a plethora of surprises. Beyond the expected hits within RAM Records’ extensive catalogue, Lavice weaved an array of unexpected jams with a drum and bass flip- Kanye West’s I’m In It, Die Antwoord’s Ugly Boy and a contrapuntal EDM hit that I didn’t recognise.
Beyond the stellar opening set(for me), the quality of the performances continued across the remainder of the night. Calyx & Teebee provided their typically disgusting drops and distinctively vulgar baselines, including their brand new track A Day That Never Comes, while Loadstar dropped a number of distinct now-anthemic hits such as Pendulun’s remix of Voodoo People, and TC’s Get Down Low.
While the array of DnB talent itself met, and in a lot of occasions exceeded my expectations, I couldn’t help but feel a tad disappointed with the RAM Weekender, and there’s a few reasons why. My main qualm with the night was the venue- what started off as an interesting place, rocking a separate ‘chill out’ area with darkened lighting and a ‘free’ vibe, was quickly illustrated as a simply poor choice for an all-out example of drum and bass. For such a hyped-up event, the venue was a particularly small, one-room shindig that was only about half-full, despite the ‘sold out’ label being plastered over the event. As well as this, the entire ceiling and the walls were painted white, leaving every bit of light reflecting off of it- illuminating the room every time a strobe was turned on. This made it feel as if the house lights were on the entire time, or as if the event was in the daytime. Beyond these flaws to the venue itself, it was simply too quiet, at base-fueled nights of adrenaline and lost heads, I expect ear-deafening, eye-bleeding bombardments of noise that leave my ears ringing for days after, and unfortunately this simply wasn’t the case.
Drum and bass remains a seriously slept on genre, but will always an integral part to British nightlife. Big DnB events from pioneering labels such as RAM are always nights to put into your diary and the RAM Weekender has been lodged into my calendar since January. While there’s no getting around the talent on show- each providing their own distinctive sounds to make up a diverse night from every spectrum of DnB, the abundantly clear poor choice of venue, along with a sound system lacking that eardrum-penetrating volume, on the whole it left me feeling a little underwhelmed.