Smile Politely

Dubstep Massacre: On the Cusp Of a First Year Anniversary

We all have recollections of youth; akin to our parents’ memories of watching us grow. Ahh, those first tender years coming to know ourselves, the world around us, and how it responded to our every cry, if for nothing else but to say “I’m here.”

217Mafia wanted to watch a scene grow up. What they gave birth to was something that they never expected to last this long or have this much strength behind it.

At first, Dubstep Massacre was an experiment in moving the crowd. Champaign’s deep electronic music history had lent itself to many a revolution, both of turntable and genre, birthing unto the musical world a set of legends both local and global: Spinnerty, J-Phlip, Impact, Bozak, Kirkwood West.

But now, DJs Belly, Mertz, Lincoln Jones, Mobius, Substr8 and Geist wanted something more; something more powerful, and something that they could adapt and stamp as their own.

Then, as suddenly as it had started (ironically, with a delay thanks to The Boat Drunks), it was a massive movement propelled by bass, feverish crowds, and an undeniable rhythm that kept people hooked. To quote Allen Payne’s character “Gee Money” in New Jack City: they came back for the bass.

Now, this once monthly show was getting national and international attention. First, it was local heroes, then Dub heroes of the Midwest: Phaded, Richie August. A phone call here, an accusation of “electronic dickery” there, and Champaign was now playing host to some of the founders of the genre: DZ and Skream.

Now, a year later, it began just as it started: a hail of buzz, Facebook invites, planning, design, and a plain dance floor at the Cowboy Monkey. The word had gotten around that 217Mafia was doing it again, as big as they could possibly make it in every aspect: 4 massive subwoofers, 4 DJs, and an estimated 300+ people.

From the very moment you stepped into 6 E. Main St., you felt like the energy was already teetering, ready to spill over at the drop of the first Dub plate. And the moment that it did, every hand was in the air, clapping, screaming, every mouth singing along with the same strain of melody that infected Champaign one year ago.

Every single bass quake from Rory Durkin’s massive subwoofers seemed to edge the crowd forward. It was no longer a massive gathering, as much as it was Champaign’s electronic music scene re-asserting itself with every song.

At the stroke of midnight, the energy came to a fever pitch with a simple idea: what’s a birthday without a cake?

Adorned with the same numeric candles used to illuminate childhood birthdays, nearly 250 people gave their best birthday regards to their new addiction. There were barely words that could be spoken by anyone on stage to would convey how thankful any and all of the promoters, organizers, and musicians were.

As the night came to a close, a hail of handshakes and autographs fell with the rise of the lights in the building. It would still prove difficult for the bite of a Champaign winter to wipe the smile from the face of everyone who bore witness to yet another massacre.

Happy Birthday, Dubstep Massacre. Here’s to growing up way too fast, and many more celebrations to come.

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