The Bloomfield Bridge Tavern was packed early, uncharacteristic for a Wednesday evening. The weekly drum 'n' bass night hosted by FUZZ! 412 DnB DJ collective can always draw a crowd of the faithful, but on certain nights, with certain headliners, they can pack the little dance floor with raging bass junkies who get in early and stay 'til the very end.
Last Wednesday was one of those nights as they hosted London-based drum 'n' bass producer and DJ Klute for their 11th Anniversary celebration. The bartenders handed out pizza in lieu of pierogies to an appreciative crowd as one of FUZZ!'s resident DJ's, Depth One, opened up with some classic techstep. The atmosphere wasn't necessarily celebratory as it was just keepin' up with tradition.
FUZZ! is the longest-running electronic music event in Pittsburgh and stands out on a short list of longest-running in the country. Hearkening back to the late '90s and early '00s, the weekly platform for drum 'n' bass has moved venues a few times, tweaked its name, and seen its audience shrink and swell over time. Throughout the past 11 years it has remained steadfast and adamant about bringing quality drum 'n' bass to the Burgh both by cultivating local talent and by bringing world-renowned producers in to grace the stage of the BBT.
Resident FUZZ! DJ and local veteran of the ravey drum 'n' bass formalism days of yore, Geoff Maddock (Cutups) says of the group's collectivism, "We put all the money from the weekly nights into a pot so that we can afford to lose money bringing guests. It's just a sign of the love and dedication that the crew has for this music."
As a genre, drum 'n' bass has seen historical moments of ballooned underground acceptance as in the rave days, when raves were not the same as today's all-ages parties that feature hardstyle DJ's; a veritable sonic onslaught that often leaves those who saw the inception of rave culture scratching their heads in confusion. It has also seen moments of homelessness, and an interest and continuation by only a dedicated few who hung on to the fast-paced tempo while other purveyors of electronic music slipped into a more mainstream jazzstep sound.
But here, and now, 11 years after it's inception as a consistent event in Pittsburgh, FUZZ! has made the point that drum 'n' bass is entirely too vast of a genre to be broken down and their choice of a headliner in Klute does everything to prove that interest remains.
Klute's set was constantly in conversation with the speedy, intricate percussion lined drum 'n' bass that could now be considered 'classic,' and a more minimal, smoothed-out languid sound. He vacillated between hard-dark-speedy and soft-glistening dub with ease. His set was like dance floor time-travel, pulling up the sounds from the past and pushing them into the future. Pretty much the mentality that could give FUZZ! 11 more years.