Since cropping up on the London circuit at Velvet Rooms in 2000, FWD>> has cemented itself as the hands-down, out-and-out leading dubstep night in the UK, serving as the quintessential flag-bearer for the London scene during the noughties and beyond. Receiving props from the likes of Martin Clark, it pitched itself at the very forefront of the scene from day one as an antidote to the glitzy glamour of two-step and garage. Tracking the evolution of grime, dubstep and funky, its vision was of the grimier side of UK bass as opposed to the knee-high boots, peroxide-tinted Essex chic of the late ’90s. According to Clark, it provided grime at a time before it was even called grime to “underground heads who preferred grimy sounds to glitzy garms.”
Today it occupies a weekly Thursday night slot at London’s intimate rave den Plastic People, (its home since 2005), and is without doubt the essential place-to-be for bass-hungry aficionados week in, week out, showcasing anyone making waves in dubstep/bass today. Ramadanman, Ikonika, Jackmaster, Floating Points and Jamie XX are just some of the names that cropped up on the bill during the tail end of 2010, representing just how this club night has remained consistently on-point; a reverential showcase ancillary to a scene evolving with such fluid conviction, that keeping up requires complete submergence in the scene. So it’s no coincidence then that the people behind FWD>> are the same that run Rinse FM, London’s most forward-thinking, up-to-speed bass radio station. But, if bagging DJmag’s Best Club Night award sounds like a no-brainer, we’d at least like to know how it feels from the horse’s mouth.
“Great!” beams Rinse FM’s Rat. But keeping up with the dubstep scene in today’s climate can’t be easy, right? What with the likes of James Blake, Mount Kimbie, SBTRKT and Pariah catapulting the scene into the stratosphere during 2010 - rewiring the half-step wobble into lushly textured electronic two-step or UK funky infused, Burial-tinged dancefloor shredding future garage - providing an outlet for arguably the UK’s fastest evolving scene must be a challenge, not to mention exciting. “Our music policy hasn’t changed since the start,” says Rat. “All we do is try and push upfront, underground, UK music.”
Indeed, but what’s so remarkable about FWD>> is the way it has positioned itself so firmly as the seminal dubstep night. The event’s name has become synonymous with the scene; mention dubstep in a live London setting and FWD>> is the word that will inevitably crop up. So how has this been achieved? According to Rat, it’s simple.
“Because we did it first,” he affirms. Aside from an unrivalled DJ selection policy, FWD>>’s success can also be put down to its choice of venue. East London’s Plastic People is not only associated with chin-stroking crowds dedicated to electronic music - its carefully tailored Funktion One-stacked soundsystem is arguably the best in the country. Offering a home to deep house purveyors Warm and previously residencies from Detroit legend Theo Parrish and DJmag’s Best Producer Four Tet, Plastic People has taken FWD>> in to become one of its flagship events; loved by those behind the venue, those that attend every week and those behind the night. And once again, it’s been quite a year. Following a two month hiatus during the summer, during which the venue “had to paint the bogs”, FWD>> is again receiving the props it deserves. So what’s coming up in 2011?
“More great parties every Thursday at London’s best venue,” says Rat. Thank God for that. But, let’s be honest, did we expect anything less?
|<<< Outstanding Contribution||Best DJ >>>|
The Other Nominees
|Lowlife, London||Circus Liverpool||Monocult, Leeds||Warm, London|