While flogging dubstep, reggae and jungle to students is hardly groundbreaking, you could be forgiven for thinking that something is going on in Liverpool’s dance music scene at the moment.
Over the last few years, several new nights have sprouted up through the pavement, all to peddle their various Rasta-flavoured beats. Some of the credit for that has to go to Dreadnought, where many locals and students had their first dubstep experiences a few years ago but the real fresh and ripe specimens at the moment are the boys from EAT YOUR GREENS.
Since its conception in November 2007, Eat Your Greens has steadily gained a following and has arguably contributed to the successful installation of a new scene in the city. As with most nights, it started off as a slightly more professional version of a houseparty which relied on the organisers themselves making a calculated loss in the takings, as well as depending on all their friends turning up.
“We just couldn’t have done it if our mates hadn’t all come and supported us for those first few,” reckons Joe Myhill, (RAVE MEARS). “What’s good now though is the way the night has built up. It’s a concentration of all these circles of friends, which really helps with the atmosphere. And now we’ve passed it on to a new generation.”
It’s this special atmosphere which they see as key to the night’s reputation and it’s a vibe which all of the acts seem to pick up on. Adam Aulaqui (BARRY WEST) agrees, “Yeah, Remarc absolutely loved it. He said it was more fun than anything he does in London. Nucleus Roots too, they said it was one of the best gigs they’ve ever played.”
One thing I’ve always picked up on is that when you watch the dub or reggae bands play at around 11 o’clock, the crowd is already hyped up and climbing the walls, eager for the onslaught of the faster music to come later on. Whilst a lot of these guys are festival regulars, and no strangers to excited fans, I’ve always felt that the Eat Your Greens crowd can really spur them on to some memorable sets.
The boys also have a certain ethos which they follow when booking acts and running events. They insist on having a variety of different tempos and styles to the evening, so that the music never feels stale. They also prefer to keep everyone together in the same room, rather than split up the audience. This careful planning and attention to detail has meant that the night and scene has steadily grown over the years, with other nights like Playdub and Takeover picking up the excess.
But is there anything special about the dark and wobbly dubstep monster which can account for the scene’s surging popularity? “Not really,” thinks Sam ‘JONAS’ Wright, “Most scenes are the same, I suppose. They swell up, then it settles down and then they just exist. Like drum and bass a few years ago. It’s just taken it a while to filter up here. It’s the local big producers who drive the scenes down in Bristol and Brighton, and we don’t really have any up here.”
It’s probably this local indifference to reggae-inspired music which has made these new nights stand out so much and allowed them to flourish. Your average Scouse clubber is more than happy with house nights like Circus, but there is nowhere to go if you’re a Toxteth lad into your urban or Caribbean music.
“It’s institutional prejudice on the part of the police. They don’t let lads walk around town freely so they don’t feel welcome at nights,” says Adam, “This is a major cause of the lack of Reggae until now.” Admittedly, some nights have had problems with violence in the past and some venues have felt justified in installing blanket bans on what they see as ‘rowdy’ music. But this doesn’t mean that all attempts to integrate the student and local populations are doomed to fail. Subdub in Leeds for example, is based in a West Indian community centre, and has built a reputation beyond the city of its birth.