I’m going to start this post off with 2 disclaimers:
- Dave Droneboy is a thoroughly lovely guy. I’ve always been in awe of his positivity, and the way he will make an effort to make everybody feel included. He’s done a tremendous amount for the Cardiff music scene over a very long career and should be recognised for it.
- I love drum ‘n’ bass. I find it to be one of the most consistently fascinating genres there is. So many different and unique slants on a simple framework. It grabs me in a way that house and techno very rarely do. I don’t often get through a Moon set without a detour above 170bpm, and I have the most fun doing it. I would struggle to list all the dnb producers that have enriched my life over the years.
Anyway, on with the rant.
Last night, Facebook turned ugly. I’m still getting alerts from this argument 24 hours later.
The #savewomanbystreet campaign video was shared along with a criticism that it only featured white contributors and strictly white audiences. This was very swiftly debunked, as the very first interview in the video was with a punk of colour (I think he described himself as ‘mocha’). I’ve been blocked by the original commentator, so I can’t post a direct quote, but this guy was basically told that punk wasn’t a ‘black’ enough scene, and he wasn’t representing his community. Unbelievable though that is, it’s not the point of this post.
The comment thread was quickly dominated by Cardiff’s passionate drum ‘n’ bass community, who claimed that the eviction of Concrete Junglists from Clwb was an attack on the diversity of our city’s music scene, and that SWS needed to give their explanation for this immediately. SWS don’t work for Clwb, and are in no way involved in the club’s decisions when it comes to their music policy. So they were in no position to make any comment on these events. And yet, the fingers were all pointed at them.
Let’s quickly talk about the work #savewomanbystreet have done, because today was a big day for them. They set out their demands, and just a few hours ago, the ‘agent of change principle’ was voted in, forcing new developers to be held responsible for sound-proofing against noise complaints, rather than the pre-existing music venues. This is huge, and basically nullifies the threat from that dreaded Wetherspoon’s hotel. And it’s also just the beginning. I can’t divulge (or fully remember) everything that Finn’s told me about their plans for the future, but it’s very, very exciting.
Why any fan of underground music would be against this campaign is beyond me. People were criticising our local MPs for ‘jumping on the bandwagon‘. Who gives a shit when we get protection for our local venues? In fact, isn’t it basically in the job description for MPs to jump on bandwagons? It means they’ve listened to their constituents. That’s their job in a nutshell.
Now back to drum ‘n’ bass.
Why would a night that sold out every ticket in advance, with a packed bar all night be banned from returning? It can’t have been for financial reasons…
I don’t remember the first time I went to Fabric. I was 18 years old, and a mess. But I remember the second time. Hype, Pascal, Friction, Grooverider, Commix b2b Alix Perez, Taxman. I’d never experienced music this exhilarating, this intense, this angry, this danceable. Of course I’d heard dnb before, but never in a setting like that. It remains one of the most life-changing musical experiences of my life. But I did not make friends. I tried, but I repeatedly got told to fuck off, and to get the fuck away, presumably because I was in a hawaiian shirt, clearly a university student. I didn’t belong. The other punters made that clear. Thankfully, the Cardiff scene is nowhere near that nasty, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t problems.
The last Concrete Junglists to take place in Clwb was headlined by Hazard, king of aggressive jump-up. I played in Room 2 and I loved every minute of that night, but it was no surprise to me that they have been barred from returning. The whole night I was being barged out of the way by the bouncers as they broke up yet another fist fight. One scrap broke out right in front of me, and a big circle cleared whilst 2 or 3 guys smacked each other over and over rolling around on the floor. After several minutes I asked my friend if I should get security. He responded ‘Nah, that’s just jump-up mate.‘
To me, this was the obvious elephant in the room; the blindingly obvious reason that Clwb said enough was enough. The bouncers were rushed off their feet, working at least 10 times as hard as they would on any other night. I didn’t feel scared, as I knew that the only dudes fighting were those that were looking for it. But the punters downstairs who came for cheesy pop probably didn’t feel so secure. And they’re Clwbs bread and butter. Grassroots music venues don’t survive through gigs, they survive because of their weekly club nights. Every. Single. One. If regular people are put off going out to Clwb for fear of losing a tooth, this could end the venue. Couple that with the fact that the venue is legally obliged to hand over incident reports to the police, and they’re facing problems on all sides, for the sake of one financially successful night.
The response from the drum ‘n’ bass community has been complete denial. I’m fully aware that this doesn’t happen at all dnb nights. This was a particularly aggressive night. But to play the victim instead of demanding that your audience take responsibility…it’s gonna leave them without a venue. If you see someone windmilling or acting like a dick purposefully out to hurt people at a punk or metal show, the audience stands in unity against that person. I’ve seen it a thousand times. Sometimes the band calls them out, sometimes the rest of the punters shoulder the responsibility. But we never let it slide. And so I call on the drum ‘n’ bass scene to take note. To the tiny minority that spend £15 on a ticket just to go out and have a punch-up, save your money and go to St. Mary’s Street instead, don’t ruin it for the rest of us. And to the rest of the junglists, stand up against this kind of behaviour, or nowhere in the city will put on your shows. And you’ll only have yourselves to blame.