In a day and age when dubstep is thriving more than ever, fans are always looking for the newest original sound to headbang their hearts out to. While huge names like Skrillex, Zomboy, and Datsik, dominate bass music, many fans complain that live dub sets have become somewhat predictable in the last two years. A style that is being adopted by artists like Getter, Spag Heddy, and Virtual Riot, take up the majority of bass music that gets played out, and while it creates for very energetic experiences for fans, for seasoned dub veterans it can get old fast.
One artist who has been defying the cookie cut nature of the average dub set has been a French Canadian animal named Snails. Snails has developed his own sound entitled vomitstep, that has been captivating audiences since he blew up early last year. Vomitstep can be described by words such as grimy, heavy, and slimy. A combination of distinct growl synths and compressed kick drums form a sound that any dubhead can recognize from a while away.
On Saturday night, Philadelphia was transformed into a sea of vomit when Snails brought his Enter Slugz City Tour to the Theatre of the Living Arts with direct support from Must Die! local support from the Actual Records crew featuring Get Up and Ruxbin. South Street was flooded with fans repping Snails gear before the show, and the atmosphere was filled with anticipation for him to take the stage.
The local openers warmed up the room perfectly for the main acts making sure not to overlap any songs that Must Die or Snails. Get up played an especially good set, using an MPC controller to make the majority of his songs live during his set. We were very impressed with his ability to compose himself and mix together hip hop style MPC beats and dub synths.
Next up was Never Say Die label member Must Die! who threw down a diverse bass heavy set featuring plenty of tracks from his fellow Never Say Die label members, as well as his housier material to give the fans a break in between their bouts of headbanging. One thing that disappoints me every time I see Must Die is that every time he plays, he is usually opening for someone else. When I hear his music and hear heavy songs like “Survivors” and “Gem Shards”, I want to experience that kind of energy all throughout the set. Never have I had the chance to see a full dubstep set from Must Die, but with his mixing very toned through his experience with Skism, I can only imagine what it would be like. In no way was the set bad, but I always leave shows with him on the bill longing for a little more from him.
As Must Die walks off stage, the lights in venue turn off and darkness envelopes the crowd. Suddenly a bright screen flashes on and the venue is filled with lights as alarms blare through the speakers. The alarms sound until they are come to a halt and nothing but silence fills the air again. A terrifying voices comes over the speakers with the phrases “The vomit has been freed”, “Do you recognize the power?”, and “Enter Slugz City”. The opening sax portion of Snail's VIP of his hit song with Big Gigantic “Funk With Me” comes over the speakers and the crowd immediately is sucked into the vortex that is a Snails set. While the venue is not as packed as it could have been, the crowd had no lack of energy and love for the French Canadian on stage.
This was my 4th time seeing Snails in the last seven months or so, so while I was expecting a great set, I was not expecting to hear many new songs from Snails. It was only a short period of time into his set before I realized that I was clearly mistaken about that assumption. This was easily the heaviest set that I've seen the vomitstep master throw down, and from start to finish he constantly surprised me with brand new material that I hadn't heard previous to that night. One of the reasons that Snails has rose to his fame so quickly and developed such a dedicated following of fans is his ability to constantly change his set and never give the same performance to his fans, even with the shows being a few months apart.
His style is new, his stage presences is energetic, and overall the vomitstep movement is a fresh new part of EDM culture that the bass music community can't get enough of. Finishing the night out with an encore that featured a love ballad of Whitney Houston's “I Will Always Love You”, and arguably the most timeless dubstep anthem “Tetris” by Doctor P, Snails gave Philadelphia a night that will not soon be forgotten and we can't wait for the new tracks he played to be released. The future of vomitstep is a bright one.