SBTRKT - Lancaster Library
Before anybody takes to the stage this evening there is already an electric buzz within the Get it Loud in Libraries crowd. In charge of adding to the atmosphere is London-based producer SBTRKT AKA Aaron Jerome, along with frequent collaborator Sampha. Building his reputation by remixing well known tracks like ‘XXXO’ by MIA and ‘Lotus Flower’ by Radiohead, his back catalogue gives some idea as to the wide range of influences from which he pulls. Tonight, however the material aired is taken from 2011’s self-titled release, proving there is a lot more to SBTRKT than just his remixing skills.
Taking to the stage in tribal masks, the silhouettes of the duo appearing pushes the buzz in the room to full capacity. The first beat drops and the crowd subsequently goes wild, shoving to the front and cutting shapes like they were at an Ibiza closing party rather than their local library. They prove my regular claim that nobody can actually properly dance to dubstep, but they sure seem to be trying despite the irregular beat. But it’s not just dubstep here, but a hybrid of trance, garage and soul making up a post-dubstep sound. Not that anybody here cares about genre, all of their attention tonight is on hypnotic frontman Sampha, his soulful baritone adding a soothing quality to the thumping bass lines reverberating around the library.
‘Wildfire’ is a set highlight, featuring Little Dragon's Yukimi Nagano to keep the hipsters happy, and a Drake verse to keep the less cool kids interested (I stand firmly in the latter camp). Sampha bounces around the stage, high-fiving the front rows, whilst somehow still managing to hit every note and fulfilling his role on the keys. It is difficult to believe that such a complex sound, with so many layers, is coming from just two blokes. Electronic beats are peppered with Jerome’s live drumming, which at times can over complicate the music. Drumming is clearly not his forte, but combined with the strobe lighting, makes for a great visual.
Ending the set with ‘Never Never’, it is obvious that SBTRKT has cemented his position as one of the sounds of 2012. Sampha’s seductive line ‘I never left the crown’ echoes round the room as they leave the stage but the silence doesn’t last long and their encore features the first ever live performance of ‘Look At Stars’. It is off the cuff and messy, but probably a worthwhile risk seeing as this is the smallest date on their tour. It’s incredibly entertaining to see the pair talking, almost panicking on stage as they attempt to replicate it. Rather than being a mistake, lack of rehearsal means the live replication of the song is organic, original, and surprisingly good. The pair leave the stage abruptly, with the crowd dazed and sweaty knowing that they are unlikely to witness SBTRKT in such an intimate venue again.