Gig Review: Murdock @ The Slate Room, Christchurch - 5/2/2020
Updated: Feb 13
Billed as Sub180’s last ever gig at The Slate Room (a venue which has hosted many of Christchurch’s high profile international gigs over the last couple years) and also falling on the eve of a public holiday, there was an air of expectation for a massive night. Particularly among the younger crowd, The Slate Room is a favoured venue for its large dance space and sizeable smoking area (even if the pool-hall ambience and lack of seating designates it as more of a rave area and less of a club environment) and with international act Murdock providing a huge, high energy set, it was the perfect combination of factors for a raucous send-off.
I arrived near the end of opening act CPAZ, and I was surprised to hear pounding jump-up tunes so early in the evening - not exactly a tone-setting warmup, and to make matters worse the DJ accidentally ejected the wrong USB during the changeover. Luckily the vibe recovered well via veteran selector Izzy, who took things deeper with an appropriate selection starting with an MC Fats tune and moving through recent favourites Roll The Dice, Pretty Girl, Bang and Guitar Track. The massive You Got Me remix by S.P.Y got things heated up toward the end of the set, as did Ben Snow’s Out In The Streets which the crowd gobbled up like candy.
Sub180 has a long-standing relationship with local sound system Boom Candy, often billed as the loudest system in the South. It was my first time experiencing the rig and it was certainly impressively loud, to the point that to be in its presence was a physical assault on the senses. T-Bone smashed out the 11PM-Midnight slot and kept things tight with a high energy but sophisticated set favouring deeper cuts over readily-obvious crowd-pleasers. Word came down that a noise complaint at 11PM meant levels could not be pushed beyond 80db (part of the reason why the venue reportedly will be discontinued for drum & bass gigs), but despite this I found the volume crushingly loud, to the point that sometimes the mids tended to get drowned out by the weight of the bass frequencies.
At the stroke of midnight Murdock stepped up for a 2 hour set, kicking off with his signature remix of Unforgettable, and moving through an assortment of massive, stomping tunes. The brains behind Belgian brand Rampage, he’s ushered a decade-long string of events renown for beefy production values, and with his association with label Viper Recordings, his music tends toward big and dancefloor-oriented. That was certainly the case here, a massive LED screen and strobes providing the visual stimulus, Boom Candy pounding ears and bodies into submission, and Murdock dropping a variety of hard-edged selections including an old Netsky tune, the title track off his recent LP Stronger (a singalong favourite), and Ruffneck Soldier by Drumsound & Bassline Smith. At one point he moved away from the decks to the front of the stage and beckoned everyone closer so he could leap out and crowd-surf to the delight of everyone. As the set moved into the second hour, perhaps as a nod to the fatiguing nature of the full-sensory show, he let breakdowns breathe a little more, a highlight being his tune Can’t Keep Me Down featuring lovely vocals by Sena Dagadu and Shystie, and the almost-obligatory appearance of Wilkinson’s Afterglow.
A well-rinsed, mostly-younger crowd showed their gratitude as the last tune played out, and Boom Candy head honcho Redwolf closed things down with a variety of thudding, juddering bass selections erring on the side of jump-up but blessedly free of too many foghorn antics, with some more minimal selections such as Bladerunner’s Flying Technique and Klinical & Objectiv’s Phenomenal. It was clear from the faces and bodies that it had been a worthy conclusion to this era of Christchurch Drum & Bass, but as always, the beats roll on!
You can next catch Boom Candy in action at City Doof, Hide Club on Friday Feb 14th, and Sub180 returns to Christchurch on March 7th for Bou w/ Special Guests at Vanguard Square.