By: Evan Townsend
San Jose-based dubstep artist Danny Beall, better known as NiT GriT, drew a large crowd in Columbia, Missouri on Saturday night. Braving icy roads and sub-freezing weather, fans came from as far as St. Louis and Kansas city to see the man whose work is rapidly gaining recognition in the highest tiers of the dubstep world.
Mojo’s occupies part of a low-slung, nondescript gunmetal gray building. Its modest size and cozy atmosphere work to its advantage. Quite a distance from any major roads, its thin walls let throbbing beats guide wandering fans. The crowd packed tightly onto an old wooden floor that shook with every bass line. They came dressed in anything from blue jeans to neon wigs and candy bras, ready to forget about work, school, and the two feet of snow that had trapped most of them inside for the last week.
Though timid at first, the crowd didn’t resist for long the high voltage glitch-hop of Bassthoven, the night’s first act. The duo, comprised of DJ Blac and Bentone, lured the audience in with their deep, gritty sound, but their real skill lay in their ability to change the mood fast enough to cause whiplash. Bassthoven took the crowd from bursts of hard-hitting dubstep, down to smooth electro for a quick breather, then straight back up again.
Next up was Alpaca, Columbia’s native dubstep DJ. While each of Bassthoven’s tracks were different from the next, Alpaca's songs were eclectic in their essence and left the audience clueless as to what might come next. His sporadic style played with the crowd like a game of Simon Says, the only command being “head bang.” Alpaca’s erratic sound allowed him to use a lack of beats as effectively as his heavy bass lines, giving the few measures before a drop more suspense than an Alfred Hitchcock film.
The last opener was Smashel Tooth, a female DJ from California. She was a refreshing change in a genre dominated by Y-chromosomes. Her style was almost exclusively hip-hop remixes, which seemed to surprise and engage an audience that was eager to start moving their hips and give their necks a rest. Smashel Tooth didn’t just Dj, though. She put on a performance. Anything but shy, and seemed to be having as much fun as the crowd she was entertaining. She danced to the songs, mouthed the words, and even took out audience members with a toy laser gun. Though she started her set in a t-shirt, she ended it wearing a bikini top, sunglasses, and a lobster bib.
NiT GriT took the stage shortly after midnight to much fanfare. It only took a few minutes to make clear why his is one of the biggest names in the dubstep scene. For a genre rife with “dirtier than...” comments, NiT GriT’s music had a surprising amount of class. His melodies breathed life into otherwise mechanical songs without making them lose any of their power. The music, and the audience, responded to him like he was the conductor of the Dubstep Philharmonic Orchestra. He pumped out each note with precision, and the crowd bounced accordingly.
NiT GriT finished the set with a two-minute encore, in a race against the city’s sound ordinance. The audience had no qualms about accepting the MC’s challenge to prove to Nit GriT that Columbia knew how to rock. The encore marked the end of one of the most high-powered, adrenaline-fueled hours of my life.
NiT GriT has rocketed to the top of the dubstep world, but he’s still pushing. It’s obvious he will take this genre places it’s never been before, and I impatiently await more.
Malfunction - NiT GriT
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