Dusky are a London-based electronic duo, whose techno/jungle influenced brand of house has been making quite a stir over the last few months. More importantly however, they constitute the latest in an unprecedented series of events in which Hold It Down have managed to attract some massive names on the circuit to Devon. So far, Sigma, Duke Dumont, and Hannah Wants have all been extremely successful – would Dusky meet this high standard?
Before I consider this, I will highlight one aspect of Hold It Down nights that I feel set them apart from their competitors, namely the more diverse demographic of clubbers than many of the other series in the city. I remember being a wide-eyed fresher trying out Cellar Door for the first time, unsure of how to cope with the decidedly different vibe of a deep house night – so I just ended up standing aimlessly bobbing my head on the dancefloor. I feel this experience is replicated across many of the student-run house nights across the country, and whilst it’s by no means a bad thing to get new people engaged with house / electro, the last thing you want is a dancefloor filled with awkward idlers. Or worse, those who take it upon themselves to repeat that car-alarm esque “ooo ooo” sound during any fast-paced track. This is a roundabout way of saying, the cross-demographic appeal of Hold It Down leads to a market of people who are united, there for the acts, and there for the music, rather than there for the experience of going out, or because they are looking for something to do on a weekday. Unsurprisingly, this translates into a charged atmosphere from the get-go, which isn’t often replicated elsewhere.
We didn’t spend a lot of time in Room Two, only really moving into there towards the end of the night, post Theon Bower’s set. A conglomerate of the DJs who had played the room earlier in the night supplied the music, which was mainly an extremely high-octane brand of drum and bass, the antithesis to much of Dusky’s set, which had a committed core of revelers writhing on the makeshift dancefloor. Whilst some of the MCing was a bit ropey, we ended up staying in Room Two for far longer than anticipated, and it proved extremely enjoyable. Notably, it was also really exciting to see some of the more obscure local names that Hold It Down had given slots to on this stage, namely Item and Marek Skibinski. Applause should go to the organisers for giving opportunities to relatively inexperienced DJs, rather than exclusively relying on the usual suspects that are well established on the circuit.
Turning to Dusky, I should probably mention the set was like Sigma’s, again marred by the fire alarm, something the Lemon Grove should probably look to sort out. Again, no fault of Hold It Down or Dusky, but to be standing outside baffled isn’t a great way to welcome in 1am on a Saturday morning. Dusky, however, did immediately redeem the night once we were allowed back in, fittingly dropping Firestarter by The Prodigy, an unexpected change of tact from the majority of their set which proved to be a highlight. The brunt of their tracklist was unsurprisingly techno-house hybrid heavy, epitomised by smoothly repetitive beats that made dancing extremely easy for the busy crowd. Whilst I would have maybe liked to see more progression towards a climax, which I felt Sigma did extremely well, the brand of music on show catered perfectly to the crowd, and I have no complaints on the ambient but danceable atmosphere the duo generated. All in all, this constituted another successful night for Hold It Down, and I’ll be keeping an eye on who they manage to pull to Exeter in the future.