Eight days of jungle raving in the mediterranean sunshine? You can count Dave in...
There’s a lot of talk of ‘family’ in drum & bass, isn’t there? You hear it from the MCs in the dance, you see it from the DJs on Facebook. Fam this, fammo that, big up the drum & bass community. We come together as one. You know the drill. And, let’s face it, quite often it’s little more than rose-tinted posturing.
Sure, there’s undoubtedly an understanding and sense of respect and appreciation among serious D&B heads. The community among artists and DJs and the D&B industry is also tangibly tight, friendly and inspiring, and it would be straight-up insulting not to acknowledge the emotion, love and support there's been in the scene during the tragic moments where the genre has lost some of its most unswerving, inspiring totems. But beyond these examples, when you hear an MC reach out to the "family", ask yourself: are you really going to invite every junglist on the planet over for a roast this Christmas?
Then you arrive in San Teodoro, Sardinia for the annual eight-day D&B utopia that is Sun And Bass, and suddenly you start wondering where you’re going to get a big enough turkey to feed everyone. You start thinking about how many plates you’re going to need, and where everyone will sleep. Truly, if ever there was a tangible sense of a drum & bass family, felt from the artists and MCs right through to every last fan, it's here.
It's here where that knowing look you usually share with your fellow junglist soldier at a rave becomes a knowing emphatic hug. It's here where regulars from over the years have become lifelong friends, and even first timers (like this writer) are made to feel welcome. You start making friends almost instantly yourself, as you start to spot familiar faces while you stomp on the velveteen sands of La Cinta beach, strut poolside at the swanky Bal Harbour hotel or go a little loco at the festival’s main venue Ambra for the night session.
It's here where you see artists returning to their original music-loving D&B fanboy/girl mode, grooving in the middle of the dance, appreciating their peers on a night off or running over to shake them vigorously because they’ve just dropped a new dubplate and it slaps. It’s also here where you see many of the artists bring their partners and children along and make a week’s holiday out of it themselves. You can’t get more drum & bass family than that.
All of the above is why the festival sells out within minutes, without so much as a sniff of a line-up (which isn’t revealed until about 10 days before kick off) It’s the week all diehard drum & bass fans from around the world dream of and look forward to all year. They’ve saved up, they’ve booked up and at points during the week they’ll probably well up, because the vibes, atmosphere, music, weather and sheer appreciation for the music among everyone in attendance are just too strong to handle to do anything but feel raw emotion running through your veins from the tips of your sandy feet to the top of your sun-singed head.
It would be impossible to list every single one of these moments I experienced personally. Partly because there were frankly too many to be healthy for a week raving in the sun, and lists are boring. But also because the schedule is a marathon and you have to accept you’re not going to see everything… I know I missed out on a whole host of magical moments this year because of a little thing called sleep (and other little things like pasta, gnocchi and pizza).
That said, these are the moments that made Sun And Bass categorically the best D&B festival I have ever been to: Calibre & DRS’s Alchemy set on the beach as the sun dipped its toes behind the island’s gnarled mountains, DJ Zinc taking us back to The End circa 2005 with an impeccable (and rare) D&B set, during which the heavens threatened to open but not one person budged from Ambra’s outdoor garden arena. Elsewhere you had Breakage’s heavenly roller session, Doc Scott & dBridge’s first ever B2B and the tribute to Duncan Spirit where the likes of Storm, Mantra, Total Science, Seba and Bryan Gee all played their hearts out with raw, palpable emotion.
Flipping the script
Then there were the alternative sets: Mark System’s sublime house session, Marky’s party- pummelling funk, disco and hip-hop experience and Fracture’s body-popping electro set where doing the robot wasn’t an option but officially mandatory. Moving Shadow’s largest reunion in 20 years with Nookie, 2 Bad Mice, EZ Rollers and Dom & Roland (whose young son put us all to shame, dancing on stage with more energy and vitality than everyone in the club put together) was a major high for many of the older Sun And Bass family members while on the flip, younger next-gen talent was also given full appreciation.
Particular new breed highs included Satl’s barbed soul badness and Mac II affiliate Trex, who celebrated the release of his album High Time with a crucial Sun And Bass debut riddled with dubs, rollers and a surprise appearance from MC Fox, who jumped on the mic for a live take on their powerful roller What I Say.
Fox wasn’t alone: just as the DJs brought their finest dubs, the hosts revealed their deepest souls, the likes of DRS, Singing Fats, Cleveland Watkiss, Blackeye, Moose, Lowqui, SP and Degs guiding us through the days and nights, often sparring bar for bar, proving why they’re the voice of the genre and reminding us just how much extra magic a good MC can sprinkle on a perfect party. There’s just one difference… when these guys reach out to "family" at Sun And Bass you know they actually mean it.
Fam this, fammo that, big up the drum & bass community. We come together as one. You know the drill. And if you know what’s good for you, you’ll head to San Teodoro to join the family next year. In the meantime please come over to mine at Christmas, you’re more than welcome. Family, innit?
Words: Dave Jenkins
Tags: Sun & Bass, Sardinia, D&B, D+B, drum & bass, drum n bass, jungle, Calibre & DRS, DJ Zinc, Breakage, Doc Scott, dBridge, Storm, Mantra, Total Science, Seba, Bryan Gee, Mark System, DJ Marky, Fracture, Nookie, 2 Bad Mice, EZ Rollers, Dom & Roland, Moving Shadow, Satl, Trex, MC Fox, DRS, Singing Fats, Cleveland Watkiss, Blackeye, Moose, Lowqui, SP, Degs