Low End Lowlife Special: Outlook Launch Party ’12 - 21.01.12

Cold as hell. Crowds of people milling about in duffle coats. A mild stench of human fluids emanating gently for the underground station somewhat like the delicate scent of apple blossom on a spring morning breeze. Apparently this is not Croatia. And it sure as hell isn't summer.

Jan 21st, 2012 at Ewer Street Car Park, London / By Matthew Bayfield
Low End Lowlife Special: Outlook Launch Party ’12 - 21.01.12 Nonetheless this didn't deter the masses of bass music types currently packing themselves into a damp London car park for the Outlook 2012 Launch Party. Yes, for those unaware Outlook is the bass music festival held every late August in sunny Croatia, and is the festival of choice for anyone that knows anything about bass... Just to clarify, when I say bass I mean bass music. Anyone who turned up expecting to be able to purchase a new set of neon lures or a see live PA set from Mike Iaconelli may have found themselves sorely disappointed.

Those who were in attendance to 2011's festival this past August however were clearly not disappointed, voting it 'Best Overseas Festival' in this year’s UK Festival awards. 2012 therefore, has a great deal to live up to, and a taste of things to come was what was on offer this evening.

The venue, a car park by day, was split into three tunnels each featuring a stage complete with full soundsystem and a wide range of acts across numerous genres. All of them linked through a reliance on that low end frequency.

After a brief stop at Stage 1, where Mungo's Hi-Fi were warming up both the decks and their own custom built soundsystem it was down to Stage 3 where Fantastic Mr Fox took the controls for an hour set of electro, juke and rhythmically led work that reflected much of the sound from his Black Acre releases of 2010. Always an excellent crowd controller, the set kept a remarkable pace throughout, although Fox hasn't been as visible as most in the past 12 months this has clearly not dulled his game face, and as one of the acts already confirmed for next year is without doubt worth keeping an eye on in the run up to the festival itself in the summer.

After a swift G&T to cool off what proved to be a remarkably hot underground car park it was down to the Mungo's Hi-Fi rig, where the perennial reggae gents themselves were launching into what proved to be the most joyous set of the night. If you've seen MHF in action before then it will come as no surprise that this was one incredibly fluid set, rolling through roots reggae to dance hall and some heavy head nodding dubstep. Taking in numerous cuts from the highly recommended new album Forward Ever and also making room for the Beverly Hills Cop theme tune it was apparent why they and their soundsystem have been invited to Outlook again this year, after literally nearly tearing the place down last year, not to mention years previous. It was probably the closest you could get to sunshine whilst trapped underground, mid winter in central London.

After some logistical confusions which sadly meant missing out on what would have no doubt have been a big set from Night Slug's affiliated Girl Unit the Iration Steppas Soundsystem on Stage 2 was now playing host to the rhythmic assault and battery instantly identifiable as the work of The Bug, ably assisted on vocals for the first half of the night by the deranged ragga outbursts of Daddy Freddy, who was literally sweating energy and for the second half by the dexterous baritone verses of long time collaborator Flowdan. The raw power of Bug's London Zoo album was the prevailing aesthetic for the set and there was also the unveiling of some new material with a track called 'Slaughter Riddim,' which apparently does exactly what it says on the tin. The heavy bass of both the sound rig and Bug's production were genuinely massive, and I mean that in the proper sense of the adjective representing size and sheer scale. Not 'massive' like an ill-read youngster might post on a YouTube video...

Grammar lesson over and gin funds rapidly depleting it was a quick blast of roots energy from Iration Steppas, bringing their standard bag of classic reggae, high power dance hall and plenty of surprises to keep things interesting followed by V.I.V.E.K, who was performing back to back with fellow Deep Medi signing Quest, closing Bearded's evening (there was one last hour of acts to take it right through 'til 6am Sunday morning but we sadly had church to go to) with a blistering set of deep, dark bass weight, the likes of which Deep Medi can more or less call themselves experts on and V.I.V.E.K & Quest certainly didn't let the side down this evening

So, no sunshine, no Croatian priced wine (that's extremely cheap if you are still a little behind), yet still a blinding success of an evening. The actual festival, which takes place in an abandoned fort and on the sun kissed coast of the Aziatic should already be on your calendar... If it isn't I suggest you stop reading this and go get hedumacated in all thing bass.