A day of raving in the beaming sun? Sounds like a bit of us. This years Critical BBQ was a celebration of the UK's most exciting D&B record label, and you should be preparing yourselves to make the trek to the capital next year.
Its been 17 years since Kasra Mowlavi, better known by his DJ name ‘Kasra’, began Critical records in North London. The label’s innovative take on 170 BPM has taken D&B out of the confines of underground clubs, and pushed avant-garde artists like Mefjus into the mainstream. The annual BBQ is fast becoming one of the largest D&B bash ups the capital has to offer; with the venue set at Studio 338 - jungle heads, neuro nutters and liquid lovers flocked in with plenty of anticipation, sporting a uniform rich in Air Max, rare football shirts and wavy moschino.
Turning up to your Gran’s house with a couple crates of Stella may seem completely unacceptable, especially one as holy as mine, but when the price of a 330 ml bottle of Fosters is £6 at Studio 338 - you have to bite the bullet and watch her sing the hail marys. However, the five of us knew we would be in safe hands soon enough; the range of DJs playing this event had all individually defined hardcore music as we know it today, helping to completely reinvent the scene. Outside, you had the award-winning Brazilian selecta Marky, who has been a prominent figure in the UK since Bryan Gee brought him over to English shores in the late 90s. His three hour set captured a euphoric energy, running through timeless classics and new shellas that satisfied all the generations who had flooded to the docks for Saturday afternoon.
In the company of Marky was a whole host of underground legends. Many may not have know him before the event, But DJ Fabio was one of the most prestigious acts on the line up; the Londoner is widely regarded as one of the greats in the game. His Radio 1 residency, and earlier shows on pirate radio, helped to push Jungle into the mainstream; the composure he possesses on the decks is crazy - and with Inja on the MIC, the set was perfect. Living in the suburbs of Cambridge, we tend to see the rapper fairly regularly, so it is weird watching him on stage spitting bars and sipping coconut water; he is an absolute titan in the field of D&B MCs and we love him.
A wise man once said ‘There’s nothing like t-shirt weather in the manor my friend’, and although we weren’t in the ends Kano grew up in, the sun really came out for London at the weekend. This made the outside hangar venue particularly special, but inside lurked a line up of some of Critical’s most prestigious signees. With the help of heavy subwoofers and psychedelic visuals, they put on a show like no other. Foreign Concept, Enei and Kasra span sets that tampered with not only classic D&B, but heavy dubs and breakbeat too. However, the performance that determined the night came from no one signed to Critical; Benny L B2B T>I completely locked off Studio 338 - blending jungle with new wave rollers to make a scatty statement at the venue. (Real Name) Ben Love is one of the most in demand DJs at the moment, Goldie is a particular fan and has been known for dropping ‘Low Blow’ in his sets; with ‘Vantablack's' release just in time for the festival circuit, the rest of 2019 will be a huge year for him.
With so many organised raves popping up across the country, it is hard for companies to establish themselves in such a dense crowd of competition. Kasra and Critical are doing this though, despite the astronomical price of beer at Studio 338. 2020 seems promising for the hottest record label in D&B, so get yourself down next year for their annual celebration.