Do you know what it’s like to sit first row at the Superbowl, sippin’ on a cold IPA from Lakeside Brewery thinking to yourself, “I’m living big, I can get used to this”? Me neither. But you know what show recently gave me the feeling of living large, alive, and feeling appreciative that life has so many great experiences to offer? An incredible Dubstep concert I just survived (barely) in the suburbs of Illinois’ Windy City. The guys over at Stay Gold Promotions put together a ridiculously voracious Bass music showdown that still has me shaking 36 hours later as I drive home to North Carolina for my first day back at Grad school (exciting right). *TheCharlotteSessions.com does not support texting and driving* When I saw the videos of a Riddim concert that took place in downtown Chicago in early 2017, I made a commitment to experience the Windy City Riddim vibes for myself.
If I told you that the West Coast, Dubstep archtype of Post Malone, who formally goes by the name of AL ROSS, put on an unforgettable performance with his East Coast hubby from another bubby mr. GramGreene, in front of a SOLD OUT crowd of nearly 800 people in a dank venue known as Medusa Chicago, would you believe me? What if I told you Al Ross took the Charlotte Sessions Handy Dandy notebook of Death out of my hand and wrote down that his favorite producers right now are Yakz, Ivory, Svdden Death, Xaebor, Bommer and STYN along with a big heart and skull, in blood red ink? What if I told you that St. Louis, MO sweatergang leader, BOMMER, showed up unannounced and threw down with Gram Greene b2b style in the dirtiest way possible? What if I told you that the Dutch beast from the far East, STYN flew from Toronto to Chicago in a propeller plane to play a surprise b2b set with Al Ross? Would you believe me?
If I haven’t struck a tear in that shiny, pretty eye of yours with this intro, then bear with me. Because the pictures and videos below explain a ten thousand words that I can’t even begin to imagine exist. Brace up folks because this was probably one of the most challenging, yet exciting concert reviews The Charlotte Sessions has created, to date. (Ps. The only time I’ve ever seen Al Greene perform live was for 25 minutes in Philadelphia, after I woke up on the couch in this massive complex with nearly 2,000 people, so I was definitely due for a rerun).
I’ve been traveling for three weeks. I’m tired. Graduating college and immediately putting 5000 miles on your car can take a toll on a man, ya know? I was blessed to have met a homie named Dave at the recent SNOWTA Music Festival in Minneapolis – he was the first guy I met in 2018 actually. He put me on to his people from the Lakes of Chicago, and here I was thinking about lingering around the city for a day or two and wooking it out till the day of the show. Nope, turns out there’s family everywhere you go. I was blessed enough to have been introduced to a great group of people including the likes of the Space Wóók, two awesome guys named Justin and Rob who ended up joining me for the show, and a bunch of other characters that I could talk about for days. I guess I wasn’t riding solo anymore! When I met Justin early that Saturday morning at the neighbors crib, the second thing he told me was that he was a vocalist. So after we chugged some moderately tasty detox drinks (they were disgusting) he puked his up, and within five minutes I had him freestyling over STYN’s “Smokin Lean“ beat and Woodlock’s “Stormtrooperz.” I showed him some videos of Al Greene and STYN and he was sold. Right around 7:30, four new faces walk into the crib. I asked everyone who wanted to go to the show, and believe it or not, one incredibly kindred soul named Rob (the Aura Guru) said yes. And that’s how the three of us ended up in Elgin, IL for one of the best Dubstep shows I’ve experienced to date. By the way, this was Justin’s first bass music show/rave. On the fifty minute ride to the venue he said “I feel like I’m in a Jason Bourne Movie.” No Justin, that’s just what it feels like to hit a rave with the TCS family.
Stay Gold Promotions:
It was practically just as cold as Minneapolis was when we pulled up to the scene. I ran to the front and asked a group of folks burning some stoggies if they knew who the owner of Stay Gold Promotions was, because I had something to say. “Hey man, yeah that’s me” said Erick Tucker one of the co-founders of the Chicago based promotional company. After I introduced myself and told him my story, he immediately commended me for the little preview write up I did on the show and quickly introduced me to his partner Jack Hanson. I pulled out my valley-girl-blue notebook and asked them to write down their name, their favorite producers and their Snapchat info (cause who doesn’t love making new friends?). Eric put down “Svdden Death and Yakz” and Jack put down “Svdden Death.” I could see why we all clicked so well, their taste in Dubstep is heavy. They took me up a huge flight of stairs and showed me where the second room action was going down. There were like 70 people packed up in the tiny little dance floor, and once I went up another flight of stairs, I was finally in the money. PS, Eric and Jack, you guys are phenomenal at what you do, don’t ever stop putting together shows. Especially after creating nearly 800 smiles flashing throughout one solid piece of architecture! *Takes a deep breath*
The Main Room:
I was greeted by a group of movie theater styled seats that were neatly tucked into a a wall, these concrete structures gave off the feeling that I was about to party “Somewhere in Rome” (Rest in Peace Counterpoint). I looked to my right and a 10 foot painting of a Medusa was staring me down – I immediately grabbed my camera and took my first photo of the night, which happens to have been deleted in the hustle and bustle that was getting to North Carolina.
I looked around every corner – on my left I saw the $4 water bottles on my left, *laughed briefly because I had just picked up 24 bottles for about tree fiddy earlier that day. To the right was a neatly designed bar, and right before you hit the dance floor there was a 6 foot statue of Santa Clause staking his claim. The atmosphere was outrageously creative. I ran to the front to see who was DJing because I heard the sound of Bukez Finezt crushing the Meudsa soundsystem. What a sight, a young man in a Grey t-shirt was raging out and having a blast on stage. He goes by the name of KOTA and boy does he know how to set a vibe.
I immediately ran up to the front to go see if my bae Gram Greene was hanging around. He was. Below, is a true, authentic reaction people. You can’t find this stuff on sitting around on the internet. It was nice to play catch up with the Don after just having seen him slay an incredible performance with Monxx, Ranga’ and a Sektah (Read that Joint HERE) in Washington DC in late November. That performance alone had a huge impact on my life, so I was very excited to see the New Jersey Warrior throw down in one of my favorite cities. But I digress, let’s talk about the hot Illinois trio, the Bass Technicians.
This western Illinois trio has been taking over random house parties in the Midwest for some time now, at least that’s what the locals told me. I wanted to go support my friend Mike “Cotten“ because he’s CLUSTXR Fam, and that’s just what you do. If you meet someone at a festival, and they DJ, and your vibes click, then don’t digress to see them if you’re already in the right place, at the right time. However, I had no idea that Bass Technicians was in fact a trio composed of Illinois based spinnas Cotten, Jedi Knight and Kornholo, a seemingly fluid crew of friends who just love throwing down some Dubstep for a vibrant group of supporters. The room filled itself with fans and friends alike, and in the flash of an eye, Cotten grabbed the mic and shouted “Yo we’re gonna do a quick little transition, who’s ready for the Bass Technicians?” That unintentional rhyme made my night in more ways than you can imagine.
The immediate vibes of CLUSTXR Festival hit me hard as each DJ flawlessly rotated to lock in their double drops for the hungry crowd. I managed to catch a few prominent drops put forth by the Bass Technicias such as the new 2018 heater “Evolution“ by Argentina’s very own GRYM. Then I heard the sexy Virtual Riot VIP of “Dragons“ layered with the vocal stems from “Purple Lamborghini” along with some other ridiculous third tune. I had to keep the book down for a while because their set was just too fire to hold on to some len and paper. Good looks on the set boys, it was nice finally meeting the whole crew and catching up after the show, until our paths cross again.
What came next was something completely out of the ordinary. At the end of the night I comfortably decided that out of every performer, I felt like I could relate to this Illinois based DJ who goes by the name of GAPZ, the most. This is mainly due to his energy, track selection and the overall vibes placed by his jaw dropping set. The whole thing just reminded me of the experience I created the second time I’ve ever DJed in front of a crowd (at a bumpin’ pool party at Basslantic City). By this point in the night, there were no longer a mere couple hundred ravers walking around the nightclub, no sir, by the time GAPZ had hit the stage, the the room was packed with hundreds of avid Riddim fans who echoed the sounds of Svdden Death’s “Dr. Boy Ball.” One of my favorite double drops was when GAPZ took Xaebor’s “Don’t Stop” and threw it on top of BloodThinnerz’ collab with JAM P R D “Rampage.” The energy was relentless, just imagine the sounds of CHIBS’ Sharingan blarring through Medusa’s roaring sound system as Infekt’s “Orgalorg” came into play for a big thump. GAPZ you are fantastic at what you do, never give up and keep shooting for the stars. I’m thoroughly looking forward to our next encounter!
The Riddim Boyz soon came on the stage to throw down some spicy tunes for the starving crowd. You could tell everyone was ready for the one of the main men of the hour, GramGreene to finally get behind the decks. The bigger guy in the duo laughed at me when I asked about a certain track that GAPZ played during his set, so I used this hour as the perfect opportunity to explore the rest of the club. However, I did hear the duo perform Svdden Death’s “Take Ya Head Off” which I had been playing several times throughout the day. Props on reading my mind. Also, big ups on throwing in “Dynamic Pressure.” The Akatsuki Chop Music vibes came about for just a moment as the sounds of Flax Dubz emanated through the sound-system. Finally, the reason why I stayed in the Midwest so long was about to take place. My 5th Gram Greene set in less than a year was well under way.
Where do I even begin? Yo amo a Gram Greene mas que una abuela ama a su nieto. Translate that one folks. Milton, the Jersey killa, the badmon Riddim thrilla hopped behind the decks with a smile that said “Hey Chicago, I’m about to rip you to pieces.” Facial expressions sure do give off a persons vibe, because after that hour long compilation of explosive tunes, gracious dance moves, and sensual chops makes for one heck of a story. While many may have a hard time recollecting (as am I at this very hour), Gram Greene did a series of cool things that made this set worth talking about.
First of all, he casually popped up on stage sporting a cotton candy, zebra print rain coat with a matching “Satan is Waitin” hat that was to fresh to not notice. But after Gram Greene introduced himself, shouted out Chicago as being one of his favorite cities, and gave love to the Moshpit Mob that apparently slaughtered souls at the last show – the path to our destiny was well on its way. The intro was so hot that the whole crowd was shouting “Ohhhhhh, ayeee” in separate directions. It almost felt like there were several little pockets of extremely hype Riddim rats, and I was loving every ounce of their energy. “Ayo Chicago, what the F*ck is up, my name is GramGreene, enjoy this next one.” It wasn’t even three minutes before the Warrior took off his coat, which in reality wasn’t a mechanism for defending himself from heat, it was actually to unleash another filthy layer of Riddim drops. A lot of the tunes that Milton played throughout his set gave off the dark vibes that many tunes from Monsters Crew typically display, as the DJ of the hour dropped heaters like “Turn It Up” by Subfiltronik on top of a special version of AOWL’s hit single “Realm.” At that point Al Ross was already on stage showing off his dad-inspired dance moves to the crowd. He picked up the mic and shouted “Yall know how I know you ain’t ready for this? Because you ain’t ever seen Gram Greene do it like this.. Turn It Up!” I could barely contain myself when Al went up to the audience and started holding hands and turning up with random fans while Gram Greene dropped some heavy tunage by Blox.
(From Left To Right: Al Ross, Gram Greene, Bommer, Dudeguy with the GramCam, STYN)
Bommer b2b Gram Greene:
Then, the unexpected happened, one of the sauciest artists in the underground Dubstep scene known as the one and only, Bommer, from the Mound City, wound up behind the decks. I was told at the beginning that he was chillin’ in the building, due to a nearby show in Minneapolis with Crowell for the Death Before Dishonor Tour, but I was also told that he had no intentions on performing that night! So needless to say, the surprise b2b was definitely worth every penny of that ticket if you ask me. But its because of moments like this that you can’t put a price on a good experience, you just have to be thankful that it even took place to begin with! Take a look at the video below and tell me if you can pick out a few tunes in the bunch!
I have to say this, Chicago absolutely loves Bommer, and I have to say, I’m very grateful for whatever sorcery took that got Bommer to want to get on stage and perform for a little while. This present was unlike anything I would have ever expected at a Stay Gold show.
When I saw the 6 foot something producer walking around sporting a safari hat with a leather jacket on jean jacket combo, with bright pink painted nails, matching pink eye shadow and his hair pulled up in a ponytail, I knew that Al Ross wasn’t going easy on us tonight (in a Dubstep way. Get yer mind out of the gutter folks). It seemed like fans were constantly trying to buy the producer a drink, and by the looks of his dashing face when he got on stage, he wasn’t turning em down. You know how some DJs do worse whenever they start drinking a lot? Al Ross manages to unleash a whole new arsenal of dance moves and double drops whenever the Patron and brewskis come out out to play. After a little bit of Al Greene back to back action at the end of Gram Greeene’s set, I couldn’t wait to see what Al Ross could manage on his own. But wait, didn’t I mention earlier that Styn showed up to drop some heaters? Keep reading to find out what really happened at the Winter Shakedown. Imagine the headliner of the night in a suit and tie, walking into a corporate office claiming that a hostile takeover was well on its way? That’s how it felt when Al Ross took over the decks, a relentless, unyielding amount of energy poured from the stage for the next sixty minutes, as the California based rockstar searched through his arsenal of Dubstep music. Throughout the night we were lucky enough to hear heavy singles such as “B R A K E R” and “Civil War 2016.” I couldn’t contain myself whenever I Al Ross him drop his collab with Monxx, “Hi-Jack” or Crowell’s new tune “Mi Ritmo.” Suddenly, out of the corner of the room, a dark, red, shadowy figure emerges from the corner and reveals itself to be the one and only Bad Kitty Eliminator, a young man who no one thought would be playing in the Windy City that evening, mr. Styn. Throughout most of the evening, Styn was leaning against the wall soaking in all the Riddim action that was taking place on stage. But once it was it was time for the geweldige producer and Al Ross to rock out in a serious back to back fashion, Styn let down his headscarf and rolled up his sleeves as more and more people poured to the front of the stage. The crowd was going nuts once they realized that the rumors proved to be true. The two producers went back and forth, spinning and chopping different fan favorite artists such as Infekt and Benzmixer, in a wickedly smooth and functional fashion. We couldn’t get enough of it. There were almost too many people gathered on stage to experience the intensity of this wild b2b. And then, out of no where, this strange fluttery, tire screetching beat hits the mic unexpectedly, and in a flash, Al Ross spins back the decks to let the drop play out one more time. Gram Greene grabbed the mic and shouted “Yo Chicago lets give it up for yourselves, Al Ross b2b Styn right now, what the fuuuuuuh.” Stay tuned for some footage of Styn and Al Ross going at in the Medusa.
After that intense mini back to back, Al Ross grabbed the mic and shouted out “Hey whatever it is that you do, just make sure you always do you, Let’s get it!” He had been shouting out “Eskedit” at random moments of the night – at no point did it seem like Al Ross wasn’t having the time of his life. We have to give it to you Chicago, your ravers sure do know how to show out-of-towners a good time.
What I’m going to say next is simple. The Winter Shakedown will honestly be one of the most exciting shows that I’ll attend this year, I can already feel it. I had so much fun, in so many ways. While the scenery was absolute amazing, it was the people and memories that I created with them that mattered to me the most. Catching up Styn after the show and learning about his experiences with the Corteous Family was a special treat on its own.
But hey, I’d like the time to thank the following amazing people for taking a few moments to write in my book, or sign my jacket! Skylar put down that his favorite artist was Space Jesus! Caprice was adorable and put down Al Ross as one of her top producers right now. Natalie impressed the hell out of me when she wrote down one of the newest members of the Monsters Crew, FLIX, as one of her favs. Stjin wrote down that his tops at moment are JDilla, Madlib, Coffi, Subfiltronik, Pierre bo’urne, Dr. Derg, Jakes, Tsuruda, and MexikoDro. I met some adorable ladies from Baltimore outside the club and they wrote down some special names as well. Tia is all about that Avant, Aaliyah, and Three6Mafia, while her gorgeous friend Elise put down Alicia Keys, Brian McKnight, and Linkin Park as her favorites. We almost started tearing up at the thought of Chester Bennington. Rest in peace you legend! Talia tried pinching my butt and then impressed the hell out of me when she wrote down Liquid Stranger and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Good taste in musicians love! Big shout out to Bailey and Erin for supporting my gas tank and grabbing a few Charlotte Sessions pins before the show was over! Erin loves that Morphics! While Bailey is all about that Riot Ten. Ariel made my heart melt when she wrote down Excision (and Haywyre + Kaka de) for her answer. Last but certainly not least, Justin out down Yakz, Al Ross, and Svdden Death, Kamil wrote down Zeds Dead and Nick put down Shiverz. Illinois. You guys are amazing. Great taste in music, amazing vibes, great concerts. 10/10 Would recommend going to a Dubstep show in Chicago. Hope you all enjoyed the read! Till next time Chi-Town!
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