Electronic dance represents the jewel in the crown of 21st century popular music. With its bass-heavy electronics and uplifting tone, it is hard to resist the urge to get up and dance on it for everyone, young and old, even when feeling a little lethargic after a few beers. Last Thursday (29th of March), DJ and producer Sub Focus came to O2 Brixton Academy with his startling talent and gave us what was without doubt one of the best shows in 2018, initiating a three-day stretch of live shows that also see him at Birmingham’s Boxxed and Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse. The concert was an exciting occasion for fans of high energy dance music to enjoy a seven-hour long fabulous set. Sub Focus was preceded by four phenomenal supporting DJs, amongst whom the US dance prodigy JAUZ, known for mixing dubstep, trap, house and EDM in his breath-taking sets, drawing on productions which gather support by big names such as Skrillex, Diplo and Borgore. This was a pitch-perfect blend with the similarly diverse sounds of Sub Focus, whose music is rooted in drum’n’bass but incorporates elements of house, dubstep and electro.
It was 1.30 when the concert hall filled itself with smoke and silver stripes began falling on the heads of raging youngsters. A medium-tall man with a blonde ponytail, casual bearing, and baggy blue jeans entered the stage: it was the long waited for star of the night, who, throughout the whole concert, stood at the centre of what looked like a giant exploding circle of lights emitting dazzling patterns according to the music. The man at the centre of the electric globe is 35-year-old Guildford DJ Nicolaas ‘Nick’ Douwma, who has created two successful albums that mix dubstep, drum’n’bass and electro: ‘Sub Focus’ and ‘Torus’. Mainstream-friendly rather than aimed at underground clubbers, the most recent album has cornered a distinctly young clubbing audience.
From the moment he came on stage, I could feel the energy filling the venue which did not stop throughout the whole set and was made of increasingly aggressive tunes. Sub Focus, who has been famous for tracks such as ‘Turn Back Time’ and ‘Endorphins’ that both reached the top 10 of the UK Single Chart, kept the teeny crowd jumping all night using a plethora of guest vocalists including Alpine and Alice Gold, who sung Douwma’s most memorable tunes, Tidal Wave and Alice Gold respectively. The light show seemed perfectly synced to his set, and the crowd rode that last wind through to the end of the night. With a stellar light show, outstanding acoustics and bass that vibrated up and down your body, the show was nothing short of perfect. Sub Focus’ tone encompassed a variety of different types of electronic music: some songs were heavy, some emotional and some just downright trippy.
Douwma mixed tracks new and old into a seamless blend that had the whole of the crowd dancing non-stop into the early hours of the morning. People were going wild – not once did anyone shy away from letting loose to the groove. The stage lit up with outstanding visuals that scarily coincided with each mood of the song.
VERDICT: Sub Focus’ vision of electronic music is stellar – it’s absolutely perfect for both newcomers and fans to enjoy live as it brings such exhilaration that gets you out of even the worst of moods.