When word leaked earlier this year that UK dubstep king Rusko was producing tracks for the next Britney Spears album, there was a quiet but sweeping understanding that the growing underground movement in EDM would soon explode onto the mainstream in a way that would render it inescapable. Some were apprehensive about the union, while others trusted that if anyone could help resurrect Brit, a dose of legitimate dubstep from Rusko just might be the key. Either way, supporters and naysayers alike almost didn’t have a chance to find out after an unfortunate accident this week.
The DJ’s house caught fire Monday, apparently caused by an explosion from his car. His new Los Angeles home and studio reportedly suffered significant damages, though he did manage to save a few important items. Rusko informed fans of the accident yesterday, tweeting the picture below along with a message, “My house!!! Not a joke. Thank god I grabbed my hard-drives.” A few minutes later, he added, “Were all safe thank the lord.” While Perez Hilton has reported that the Britney demo tracks have been lost, the music was likely saved and stored on one of the rescued hard drives.
Rusko (né Christopher Mercer) just wrapped up his O.M.G. tour in the U.S. and is set to hit the UK for a slew of shows through the end of this month (tour dates below). As of now, none of the tour dates have been postponed and—with luck on his side—he’ll be making his first stop at Fabric in London this Friday.
For all the debate going on about the future of dubstep, it’s safe to say the genre has already enjoyed a decade-long history that warrants its current foray into popular music. For any doubters out in the midst who haven’t yet found themselves enraptured by the works of other UK dubstep pioneers like Mary Anne Hobbs, Caspa, and Skream, there’s only one surefire solution to understanding what they’re missing: See Rusko live. Undoubtedly the champion of the genre at the moment, Rusko’s live show is the best induction into the sweaty, intoxicating, bass-heavy, thumping world of dubstep.
Not gonna lie, I was skeptical about what kind of crowd would turn out to the show in DC two weeks ago. I’d been to the venue before (boasting a massive sound system and owned/operated by DC DJs Will Eastman and Jesse Tittsworth), but had been underwhelmed by the turnout to shows that would normally yield huge crowds in more electro-friendly cities. (People work hard here, yenno? Trying to run this country and savee the world and all…) But here’s the thing about Rusko: he brings people out of the woodwork. Older fans of the UK dubstep, grime and DnB scene stood in line eyeing the 18 year-old kids covered in day-glo gear, wielding their glowsticks impatiently, with a heavy dose of skepticism and whispers of “What’s happening to kids these days?”
But regardless of their sartorial differences, level of commitment, and any debate over purism about the genre, both groups came together in celebration of a night of frenzied bass, synths and mind-numbing rhythms. The fact that it was a Sunday evening and most concert-goers had work the next morning was just a mere afterthought. Fans drove in from Maryland and Virginia to catch the set—some who had just seen him the night previous In Richmond, VA—and lined up around the block before the doors opened at 9 pm. That proved to be more than enough time to get situated to see the man of the night, who didn’t take the stage until 12:40 am.
Smash Gordon opened the night with an impeccable set that roused the crowd, priming them with some epic builds and drops. By the time Rusko hit the stage yelling “Are you ready to get stupid, DC?!”, U St. Music Hall was packed and grooving in fine dubstep form. He moved expertly through more crazed renditions of crowd favorites like “Woo Boost” and “Jahova,” later slowing things down, giving the crowd a reprieve with undulating grooves thanks to reggae-inspired tracks like “Rubadub Shakedown” and throwing some Kid Cudi into the mix. While his house was literally burned down just yesterday, he’s long been figuratively bringing down venues with every show, and DC was no different. His energy is unparalleled when it comes to working the turntables, perhaps thanks to his punk rock sensibilities and nostalgia for the showmanship that accompanies such performances, as he notes to Spinner. The dirty-mouthed DJ jumped up and down through practically the entire set, clearly just as concerned with being a part of the party as he was with providing one. Mission accomplished.
November tour dates
11/12 London @ Fabric
11/12 Bristol @ Motion
11/13 Manchester @ Warehouse Project
11/15 Edinburgh @ Cabaret Voltaire
11/16 Cardiff @ CYNT
11/17 Southampton @ Audio
11/17 Brighton @ Audio
11/18 Leamington Spa @ Smack
11/20 Liverpool @ Chibuku
11/23 Sheffield @ Tuesday Club
11/26 Berlin @ Icon
11/26 Derby @ The Royal
11/26 Nottingham @ Stealth
11/27 Leeds @ Stylus wax:On
11/27 Birmingham @ Institute