Pittsburgh hasn't been at the forefront of dance trends lately. Raves still pump techno and trance, goth sticks to futurepop, and the local drum-and-bass bastion Fuzz (Wednesdays at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern) is seven years old. Even mashup king Girl Talk was dismissed here -- like IDM, electroclash, breakcore and grime -- until he became huge worldwide.
Adam Boura, who spins as ABZ, hopes to change that by offering CHUFF, the area's first night devoted exclusively to dubstep. The Mercer County native started DJing a decade ago in Youngstown and Cleveland, and began dropping dubstep into sets at Fuzz and holding Monday-night sessions at the now-defunct Pittsburgh Deli Company. "Two years ago," he recalls, "I was still playing a lot of drum-and-bass, but then I got sick of it and went full bore into dubstep."
Dubstep, for the uninitiated, is the London-based sister of grime, and emerged out of the U.K. garage/two-step scene. Influenced by DNB and dub reggae, dubstep's main traits are dark atmospheres, lots of open space between melodies and samples, and extremely deep sub-bass lines which can be heard properly only on large club systems. Dubstep runs at 140 beats per minute, but eliminating the kick on the second and fourth beat creates a shuffling rhythm that feels only half that speed.
Over the past several years, dubstep has followed grime in garnering major coverage in XLR8R and on Pitchfork; The Wire awarded the 2006 No. 1 Record of the Year to the self-titled debut by enigmatic producer Burial. Dubstep DJs still use vinyl, spinning new acetates as well as employing programs like Ableton and Final Scratch. Sales of some dubsteppers such as Skream are skyrocketing, even as techno and breakbeat producers try their hand at dubstep tracks.
ABZ's own productions are receiving some attention. "I uploaded my first couple of tunes to the dubstep forum for DJs to play," he says. "A radio show in Belgium called the Bam Dub played both of them, and one had a double rewind. Now I've put up 10 tunes, and there's about 15 shows on the Net that play my stuff."
ABZ won't hold CHUFF too often -- perhaps every three months -- but he thinks it has potential to stir up an otherwise moribund dance scene. "Everyone's heard drum-and-bass, so it's hard to shock people. But with dubstep, people aren't ready for it, and sometimes they're surprised."
CHUFF will be held July 13 in the basement of the Firehouse Lounge. The free event will feature Jason Burns (Cleveland), Cringer (Chicago) and ABZ, plus Ratana and Preslav opening with classic dub.