Kicking off festival season with some serious pomp, Antwerp’s Rampage brought together the biggest and brightest in drum and bass for the largest indoor party in the world.
Straddling the sweet spot between coursework deadlines and the beginning of exam revision, Rampage offered a perfectly timed released of pent up energy. Here is a selection of 10 acts that blew away a crowd numbering in the tens of thousands.
Alix Perez / Skeptical
Alix Perez has been in the Drum and Bass game since the early 2000s. As well as making music as a solo act, he has his own label 1985 Music as of 2015 and is part of the collaboration project SHADES, alongside fellow-producer Eprom. His latest single, featuring Monty, was released at the end of January and is entitled ‘Good to Me’. It showcases the expressive range of Drum and Bass well with its queasy “halftime” style. Perez’s downtempo beats allow the phat bass synths space to breathe and evolve in impeccably clean and subtle mixing. Together with Skeptikal, he brought a deeper, more atmospheric tone to the arena.
Image: Alix Perez by Jakob Hallaert
Radar Records Soundsystem: Andromedik / D-Nasty/ Doctrine
From the subtle to sheer bombastic excess, a showcase of Radar Records artists featuring Andromedik, D-Nasty and Doctrine kicked things off with a high energy one hour set on Saturday night. At just 20 years old and an Antwerp native, the future looks bright for Andromedik whose mixes are full of youthful swagger with a melodic focus that stems from classical training in his childhood. Andromedik’s latest single, coming out late last year, is ‘Titan’ and exudes a sinister energy complemented by his down-tuned vocals.
Image: Andromedik by Jakob Hallaert
Culprate / Signal / Disprove
A crowd favourite was a back to back set from Culprate, Signal and Disprove. Melody seemed less of a concern for this trio whose glitchy antics led some to crown the hour as the festival’s heaviest. The intensity rarely let up with the chaotic ‘Helter’ from Culprate’s 2018 album Others encapsulating the far-out and frantic mood.
Image: Culprate by Jakob Hallaert
Against the experimentation of Culprate and co., Dimension’s sound has greater popular appeal with its high-gloss production and euphoric vocal features. From London, he was one of about half the acts who made the journey across the latitude line over the channel to Antwerp on the day the UK was scheduled to depart the EU. Minus an MC, Dimension let the music speak for him. Although often radio-ready his tracks work equally well in a festival context.
Young Dutch dubstep and drum and bass artist, Dion Trimmer blends sci-fi vibes with pitched up vocals to created soundscapes reminiscent of Skrillex’s early work. His beats are hyperactive, refusing to sit in any one place for more than a few bars. On Friday he threw in a variety of genres, deviating from dubstep with some moments that bordered on happy hardcore. Trimmer was clearly having the time of his life, acting as his own hype man throughout with ecstatic interjections.
Image: Dion Trimmer by Jakob Hallaer
Monstercat Showcase: Koven / Muzzy / Fox Stevenson / Feint
Koven is a duo comprising of Max Rowat and Katie Boyle whose drum and bass is tailor-made for festivals and arenas like Antwerp’s Sportpaleis, long since outgrowing clubs and their anthems got the crowd chanting stadium-style. The collective euphoria that the Monstercat’s artists were able to generate was quite something to behold. Fox Stevenson, with his signature headband, also brought his blend of skill in guitar and acoustic drums coupled with production prowess to Antwerp alongside the blissful melodies of Feint – the alias of UK artist, Andrew Hu – and Hampshire native, Muzzy.
Image: (left to right) Fox Stevenson, Katie Boyle, Feint, Muzzy, Max Rowat by Jakob Hallaert
Drum and bass can be quite scary, and this artist is terrifying in the best possible way. Remaining anonymous more in the tradition of a Batman villain than Daft Punk, he wears a demonic kind of balaclava that evokes the nightmarish Scarecrow. His sound has a heavy industrial bent and features many demented vocal samples depicting a fiendish narrative where FuntCase has been condemned to the “asylum” for causing “carnage”.
Image: FuntCase by Jakob Hallaert
Murdock ft. MC Mota
Murdock opened his set with a new tune ‘Soldier’ which whipped up the crowd into a unified mass of adoration and featured sharp military snares. MC Mota was at the top of his game, rapping over several tracks and generating great rapport with the crowd. This is not to mention the public marriage proposal (successful, as they tend to be) he adjudicated during the middle of the set. It would probably be fair to say that several lives were changed by what many called Saturday’s best act.
Image: Murdock by Jakob Hallaert
Sub Focus / Wilkinson
Headliners, Sub Focus and Wilkinson opened with the former’s ‘Tidal Wave’ from the 2013 album Torus. Flanked on either side by two MCs, they delivered amped-up mixes of their radio-friendly brand of drum and bass. A particular highlight was Wilkinson’s debut of a beautiful new track entitled ‘All for You’ which features his excellent incorporation of anthemic female vocals over driving and dramatic beats.
Those were the highlights from the crazy weekend that was Rampage 2019. If you missed out there are still tickets going for the outdoor event happening on 26th and 27th July – Rampage Open Air.