Gig Review: Trei & Jabz MC - 'Locally Sauced' @ The Slate Room, Christchurch - 22/11/2019
DJ/MC partnerships are a long-standing tradition, especially in Drum & Bass; just think of iconic pairings like Andy C & MC GQ (and later Tonn Piper), Grooverider & MC Flux, and DJ Marky & Stamina MC. On a humid Canterbury evening in late November, long-time NZ-based duo Trei and Jabz MC treated a sweaty Slate Room to an exhibition of that unique chemistry.
Momentum Promotions’ boss Domino (mixing for the first time under this new alias) warmed up the Subtle Sound System effectively with melodic tunes such as Roll The Dice (Shy FX ft. Stamina MC & Lily Allen), Step Away (Chase & Status ft. MC Fats), as well as the dark and catchy Bang by Particle.
Swifty utilised a laptop setup to drop a nice selection that started with a cheeky remix of Can’t Help Falling In Love, and an impressive mix of Critical Impact’s Pretty Girl (ft. Youhman & Furniss) into a version of Adam F’s Circles followed quickly by an unidentified foghorn roller. Jam Thieves’ Babylon VIP also got an airing with it’s recognisable “notes by the layerz, true f*cking playaz” refrain, and while the mixes were tight, being in behind the laptop meant there wasn’t much performer engagement with the growing crowd.
Vex is a seasoned DJ and it showed in his deft manipulation of energy levels, quickly bringing a proper rave atmosphere with assured, dextrous blending. Heavyweight tracks such as Envy by Bou did considerable damage on the Subtle Sound System, as well as Need For Mirrors monstrous Lambo, and Pretty Girl got another airing no less effective than the first. Jabz MC appeared and began warming up the dedicated gathering, as well as warming up himself (literally stretching in preparation).
Trei unassumingly took the stage but was soon dropping huge, high energy belters, the temperature of the room rising considerably as sweaty ravers were coaxed to higher levels by both Jabz MC and the pummeling beats. Trei’s signature sound emerged as a combination of shimmering, pad-heavy breakdowns and fast tempo, tech-stabby drops, no better represented by the dubplate collaboration between himself and Futurebound forthcoming on UKF’s 10 Year LP. Amongst this formula were sprinkled some classic cuts such as Bad Company’s Pulse 2000, J Majik’s Spaced Invader Remix, Drumsound & Bassline Smith’s Dreadlock Remix and Original Nuttah 25.
Jabz MC likes to stalk through the crowd, reading the vibe and temperature of the ravers in the ride, allowing the music to do the destroying and then stoking a frenzy when needed. One love vibes and unity through the music were the messages coming through, and from the looks on euphoric faces it was a shared feeling. Picking up on when the crowd needed submission or obliteration, Trei’s greatest asset was knowing just when to challenge or indulge, feeding off flurries of gunfingers, or the inevitable exodus to the smoko area during any breakdown longer than 15 seconds (the latest generation of dancers appear to have either very short attention spans or severe vaping habits). Dubplates from Viper Recordings led into a nasty double of Drumsound & Bassline Smith’s Ouija with Commix’s Be True, and the set was rounded off by some lovely vocal-heavy bangers, including Trei’s collaboration with recent NZMA winner Tali, entitled Rebels.
As the evening wound down and a clearly exhausted Jabz MC left the stage, local veteran Subvert brought things to a close with some weighty, dark tunes and thudding basslines, still plenty of ravers soaking up the brutal beats. While the turnout was not capacity, it hardly mattered to anyone in attendance, as performers, promoters and punters alike shared in the special vibes created by a perfect blend of selectors and sounds.