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It’s 3am and the 5000-capacity sloping space is packed with ravers. Topless, sweating bodies glisten in the light from myriad mobile phones that resemble little electric campfires from the gallery above. The full spectrum of bass music is on show, with spectacular productions from Feed Me to Andy C’s ‘Alive’ thundering through the theatre, before the Brit-hop Foreign Beggars let loose in front of the temporarily lowered stage curtain.
Just ten steps behind them the enormous new light rig for Sub Focus, aka London-based d’n’b maestro Nick Douwma, is being lowered from the ceiling, as the man himself walks calmly into the backstage area, flanked by cameras and dressed all in black. Out front, two girls ride their friends’ shoulders, silhouetted by a distant exit sign as the stage curtain lifts to reveal a series of LED-ridden ‘O’s, the largest leaning 30° toward the crowd. Between flying spotlight beams the circles ignite to a salvo of bass, like an illuminated gyroscope or sci-fi Stargate, all pulsing spirals, hexagons and hypnotic circles. It’s an epic sight, one which leaves everyone utterly fixated and barely aware that there’s also an MC on stage hollering his lungs out.
Standing between the rings above and controlling their power with Xbox Kinect-like arm gestures, Sub Focus switches between violent dubstep wobbles and soaring drum ’n’ bass vibes. His versatility is a huge part of the attraction, seamlessly lowering the tempo into the synth chords and unmistakeable electro riff of ‘Could This Be Real’ before the wondrous sample from Vangelis’ ‘Spiral’ reveals that it’s time to ‘Let The Story Begin’, unleashing all kinds of euphoria, and a new exciting chapter for one of bass music’s hottest talents.