Rusko, Dub Assembly
April 30, 2010
Better than: anything that has been at Trees since its re-opening.
This was the Trees of old. By 9:30 p.m., the room was already buzzing and already a quarter full; the line outside already wrapped to the parking lot between the venue and Franzini's Pizza on Elm Street.
Dubstep was in the air for the entire evening, as Dub Assembly's Royal Highnuss and Mundo manned the turntables until the man whose name has almost become synonymous with dubstep in some circles as of late came to the stage.
And while the DA camp provided a more than ample setup for the Rusko set--strategically wobbling the room with menacing sub bass and the room steadily swelled to capacity--there is little that can prepare one for the impact of seeing the Leeds-born dubstep king in person.
When he set the Lizard Lounge's dance floor on fire the last time he came this way in December, the buzz has been has been constant and intense. That night, he had the entire room moving as one, all dancing intensely as his energy lifted the spirits of all.
When asked about that visit to Dallas, Rusko said he remembers it fondly as a highlight--a highlight that he planned fully on outdoing for the crowd who came down to Deep Ellum to see what else he could do.
Being one of the places where dubstep has a rampant following, Dallas has been fortunate to have Rusko come here twice less than half a year. With a new album, O.M.G., out tomorrow on the Mad Decent label, the artist who calls Los Angeles home now will hit a festival this week in Baltimore before setting off on a month and a half tour of Europe pushing his full-length debut. And with the recent surge in popularity of dubstep, whose legacy is becoming more and more to the mainstream, he may just have what it takes to make it a huge success.
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What does Rusko have that makes him stand out? The answer is quite simply personality. Even before he took the stage, his boyish enjoyment of what he's doing showed. Take, for instance, the fact that his laptop was churning through updates right up until he was set to take the stage. Nonplussed, the artist smiled widely, eager to get in front of the energized audience. As the updates finished he stood up and casually quipped "Let's see if this works" as he grabbed his computer and descended the stairs from the backstage area onto the stage.
Clad in a black-lettered white tee shirt, a pair of denim shorts and a pair of standard-issue black Chuck Taylors, it was only his youthful curly blond faux hawk that made his outward appearance anything but unassuming. But make no qualms: this man is a rockstar. He stepped behind the turntables after Mundo lathered the crowd up and, before he even played his first record a little before 12:30 a.m., he had the balance of Trees in the palm of his hand.
The energy pulsing throughout was unreal and reminiscent of the rock shows that I've seen in the very same building.
When the first tune dropped the room that had been bubbling just exploded, the event itself playing out as a living mashup with the raw bounce-off-your-fellow-concert-goer intensity of a punk rock show intermingling with the togetherness of a rave or other massive dance music event. And the face-melting intensity of the nastiest bass lines that Trees has experienced in years evoked the same kind of wild emotion as a well-placed virtuoso guitar solo. By the first bass drop, it was clear that this would be an historic affair. When a projectile cup of ice slammed into my forehead I was not surprised at all.
This was a party.
A few beach balls, and an array of inflatable sea creatures, made their way around the crowd as we all bounced as one unit, all equally mesmerized by the man before us. Rusko made it quite clear that he was just as into it we were, jumping, flailing, throwing and gesticulating throughout the set, as he kept in touch with the crowd by way of his frequent banter on the mic set up by his turntables. His virtuosity shone through in the form of technical ability as well, wowing other DJs in the room with his skill.
Rusko is ready for the big time.
He further proved his showmanship in the live setting in the buildup for his final record. Spinning a towel around his head like a helicopter, he artfully flung in into the throng as the bass line was set to hit. Only, the room fell silent as it became clear that his on-stage wildness caused him a technical difficulty.
"I've been rockin' out too much," he quipped with a sly grin as he explained why one of the turntables was now unplugged. But his error was quickly forgiven as the tunes were fired up again. "You know the best thing about dubstep?" Rusko asked the crowd before his second attempt to drop the last record. "Everybody loves it--it's 100% good vibes."
And those sweaty good vibes continued without waning all the way until the final note. The cheering mass was won back instantly when the music came back and it seemed that just about everyone in the room stayed until the end.
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The set came to a close and Trees' house lights came up to chants of "DUBSTEP, DUBSTEP, DUBSTEP."
Personal Bias: The Trees sound system sounded amazing, handling the intense bass beautifully. The venue would do well to book more shows that take advantage of this top-notch clarity.
Random Note: With his ready-for-showtime persona, his home base in LA, and an album set to drop in a genre that has rarely had success selling full-lengths, don't be surprised if you hear more about Rusko in the coming months. If your mom asks you about him, don't say you weren't warned.
By the Way: For those of you interested, his selection included "Woo Boost," an Imogen Heap "Hide and Seek" remix, a Jurassic 5 remix, his classic "Da Cali Anthem" (California Love), Doctor P's "Sweet Shop," and a Lady Gaga remix. Sorry if you missed it.