There were forces at work during this landmark show that I, as a mere attendee to the American Jungle taping at SD Union with Hybris headlining, was unaware. I have, in spite of myself, been following American Jungle's progress around the country as they film at different parties and interview the various local heroes who gave birth to, or have worked hard to maintain the stateside Jungle and Drum and Bass culture, and based on what I've seen it looks like it will be a pretty good representation. In San Diego alone, I was impressed with the range of DJs and MCs they spoke to; oldschool heroes like Havok Mega and Uncut, Brand New Heavies from the Organized Grime Crew like MC CSD, Proof, and Gum-B (who's actually been around for a long time but OG is the new project), and trenchmasters like MC Ridda and Eric Yo!, who have been slaving away trying to keep the DnB cruise ship from going Titanic lo these 7 or 8 years while the others have been busy regrouping or being in high school. It was a great mix, and if these guys have been nearly as thorough in other cities, and all this great material also makes it into the finished documentary, we're in for a great ride.
When I say I wasn't aware of all the players, it's because I still have no idea who the dudes are who are touring and doing this work, but that's ok. They're clearly insiders to know as much as they do about whom they should hit up for filming, and if they're also promoting themselves and trying to make connections at the same time, I for one will applaud their efforts. That is, as long as they stay true to the scene and I don't see this shit on MTV after Teen Mom. Deal? Deal.
Since I'm hardly fully informed about the project, however, I've found it difficult to finally get this review down on virtual paper. The best I can do is give readers my own experience of the event, and hopefully that will suffice. At the very least more connections will be made.
When I first got to the Ruby Room at around 11:30, I was surprised to see that it wasn't completely packed. Between Hybris (Metalheadz) and the taping, I expected people to be lined up around the block. A little shy, are we San Diego? People did start to filter in a little later though, and once Hybris was onstage, it was properly packed. Other featured DJs that night were Organized Grime's SubKillaz, of whom I am becoming more and more of a fan, and DJ Evlo. Us vs. Them's Volz rounded out the lineup, and the event was hosted by Ridda and CSD.
As a crotchety old Junglist, I really appreciated American Jungle's muted presence at the event. Ridda did merch giveaways onstage throughout the night, and I saw some people being interviewed, but I was happy to see that they made sure not to stick any cameras in anyone's face, and they stuck to the sidelines and didn't disrupt the flow of the party. They were definitely there, but didn't make a big deal about it and it seemed like they were trying not to make the party all about them. Yet another indication that these guys really get it.
What this party was all about, as it should have been, was Hybris. I don't believe I'd seen Hybris live before, but I've definitely been digging his tracks for a few years now. They're reminiscent of that great time in DnB around 1999 when jump-up and darkstep were first merging - his tracks are dark and grimy but higly danceable and the whole party was definitely on its feet dancing for the entire set. I believe I caught a few minutes of my two favourite tracks by him as well, "Not Human" and "Please Exist" (off the Prague Connection EP) but don't quote me, as I may have had a few adult beverages and dreamed it. If you're not familiar with Hybris, click these links or here is a video of him live another party:
As usual the SD Union vibe was fun and not too heavy, and I credit Ridda and the Technical Support crew for really keeping things together after the SD scene split up into crews and rivalries back in 2005. It was good to see everyone out in full force, and to see that the San Diego scene will be well-represented in American Jungle. I missed one installment of this monthly in June, but the next one is coming up next Saturday, July 13 and will feature Ben Soundscape from the Insiders. SD Union is tagging this as "Pride After Dark" as it falls on the weekend of pride and will be in Hillcrest at The Merrow, which is the new name for the Ruby Room after the shift in ownership. Check the SD Union July event page for info and updates.