It’s hard to downplay Noisia’s grip on the scene of drum and bass. Owning and running not one, but three varying labels (Vision, Division and Invisible recordings) the Dutch trio have also released on Metalheadz, Moving Shadow and RAM. But the credits don’t stop there – recently working on project I Am Legion with companions Foreign Beggars and with guest production on tracks for both Wiley and Wretch 32 – along with 3 full studio albums – it’s fair to say the group have been relatively busy since their conception in 2003. And for an act with such an impressive following, particularly in Holland, a night curated by the three-piece was due to be an interesting occasion.
Entering the main room to catch Foreign Beggars, the crowd was already quite dispersed – whether through punters deliberately arriving later to catch the evening’s headliners, or those seeking out the heavier music selection that Hybris was providing in Room 2 – and due to this the atmosphere wasn’t really all there. Don’t get me wrong – the whole tongue-in-cheek theme that runs with the group is great (maybe an album entitled ‘Bukkake Ski Trip’ is a little much, however) – and the premise of the show was all about having a laugh. The difficulty was the performance didn’t seem to expand on anything more than couple of sing-a-long hits from ’08 – with ‘Contact’ being an obvious highlight -but what remained of the set didn’t transfix the crowd or create the hype that the DnB/Hip-Hop crossover should inspire. Even in a foreign land, the Beggars’ performance felt slightly deflated – even with the MC’s best attempt at crowd motivation.
It wasn’t long though before the room became sufficiently filled (thanks to the loyal dutch contingent migrating to see the Gronigen boys play their set in the country’s capital) meaning that Machinedrum starting in room two at the same time had a tough job to pull the audience numbers – which against all odds he did effectively. Beginning with slower, trap styled beats (live sampling using the push box that has become a staple on his tech rider) he then began moving through his own production, teasing elements of his work on Vapour City archives. The American’s sharp transitions and intriguing selection kept the crowd locked in as footwork-styled percussion kicked through the room two sound system. Judging by the time slot and crowd size he had to work with – Machinedrum truly made the most out of the bad hand he was dealt.
Unsuprisingly, Noisia embraced the warmest welcome of the night – tearing through classics off their three albums, keeping the crowd bouncing and the energy alive in the room with VIP’s and edits that kept the punters inside the south-amsterdam venue on their toes. Notably, the half-time VIP of Shaking Hands considerably tested the lows of the room one speakers, and ending with the Ivy Lab remix of ‘Tentacles’ was a definite crowd pleaser. Although there was a bit too much crowd communication over the mic from behind the decks – you can’t blame the headliners from wanting a bit of interaction with their devoted followers – tonight marked the launch of the ‘Outer Edges remixes’ – and judging by the atmosphere inside Melkweg during the early hours of Saturday morning, they were the act that most had been anticipating.
Unsuprisingly, Mefjus brought a powerful set to room one – incorporating his heavy style of rolling neurofunk to keep the atmosphere going following on from the headliners. However, it was EPROM in Room Two that really closed the night in style through his unique selection – equipped with heavy grinding bass lines and a far slower tempo than had been previously heard. Mainly playing a combination of his own production, coupled with his work under the moniker ‘Shades’ with Mefjus, the slowing in speed didn’t lose any momentum in the room despite the obvious pace change – mainly down to EPROM’s intricate transitions and builds in momentum as the set swayed between industrial soundscapes and hard hitting, half-time, future drum and bass. Highlights were EPROM’s very own Hurricane and Beats of Babylon – but it was his version of ASAP Ferg’s ‘New Level’ that really shook room two. The 3:30-4:30 time slot was an excellent bit of timetabling in regards to the organisation – EPROM’s set closed the night effectively and provided a real spectacle for those who’d stuck the evening out till the bitter end.
Now onto studio album number four – it’s clear the dutch group of Nik Roos, Martijn Van Sonderen and Thijs De Vlieger have come a long way since their first release back in 2003 – but 14 years later the trio of Noisia show no sign of slowing down. Being able to curate a line-up is one point, but being able to showcase the most significant talent in the genre on one single night is another thing all together – and this just solidifies the presence that the outfit have, not just in North Holland, but on an international scale. Although certain elements of the evening took the shine off what would otherwise be a spotless event – both Machinedrum and EPROM demonstrated why Drum and Bass still has a prominent place in the capital of The Netherlands – and with seasoned talent like Noisia being able to push this music to the masses, it’s no surprise that ‘Noisia Invites’ was a winning combination of styles and artists.