Allston erupted with the sound of the London underground Thursday night. Benga, one of the UK’s most renowned Dubstep DJs, arrived at Harper’s Ferry to spin a set for the expanding Greater Boston Area’s Dubstep fan base. News of the show and JMP Live’s eye-catching promotional fliers had spread throughout college campuses, house parties, and local electronic music events during the previous weeks, producing an impressive crowd eager to catch a glimpse of Benga’s emblematic afro.
Dubstep, a genre of electronic music, is known for its bass-driven 2-step rhythm which often produces beats described as sounding similar to that of funky garage or dub reggae. Simply, a new take on an old sound. Benga (Beni Uthman) has watched Dubstep come alive since its inception in 1999. As a 15 year old boy, Benga began producing original music as the genre emerged into the underground of South London, with his first release “Skank/Dose” in 2002. Along with fellow Dubstep producer and long time collaborator Skream (Oliver Jones), Benga has learned to grow with the genre.
“Skream and I kind of go down the same road trying to make something fresh,” Benga said with conviction (and a distinct British accent) before his Harper’s set. “I think that if we lead and we keep on changing things up, if you lead than you stay up there (gestures to the top) or if you start following what other people are doing or you stay standing than you go down there (gestures to the bottom). You don’t drop, you stay in the middle, and you don’t do nothing with yourself. Always gotta be a leader.”
With Dubstep exploding onto the U.S. electronic music scene this past year, Benga described the parallel to a long-standing overseas popularity.
“When it comes to music everyone reacts the same,” said Benga. “It only takes a few months for people to get how to react to a certain type of music, and they start going crazy. It’s the same everywhere once people get it. It’s the same here, if we didn’t have the accents I wouldn’t know the difference.”
The crowd at Harper’s swayed and emitted an unceasing amount of sky-high energy from the moment opening act DJ Jaminic (Greg Nickerson) began his set.
“I was very honored to open for a legend of Dubstep,” said Nickerson. “Ending my set and hearing the crowd erupt with celebration was incredible.”
Benga surveyed the packed venue as he walked across the front of the stage, expressing his gratitude for the show’s turnout. His set began with heavy, strong tracks, causing the stage to shake from the bass levels and multiple members of the crowd to scream out “Benga!”. As the show ensued, there were definite highs and lows. Dubstep fans- and Benga himself- understand that a Dubstep show relies heavily on flawless sound production. Thursday night, the sound levels did not stay consistent for long and Benga appeared noticeably disheartened during moments where the intensity of his set was cut down.
“The show definitely could have gone more smoothly from a production standpoint,” said Kyle Langan, co-founder of JMP Live. “Perileyes had a problem with their output wire, which they did not have in sound check. Also, Benga had some difficulties with his vinyl because of scratches and vowed after the show to move to CDs, like Skream, who he called “a clever one.”
Benga pressed on through the difficulties, picking up the mic at one point and gesturing towards the crowd as he exclaimed “If it weren’t for you, I would have killed myself already!” The show’s overall success was the product of a loyal and grateful fan base- as Benga described, smiling wide into his microphone, a “very good crowd.”