Scottish club brand Xplicit is still carrying the torch for drum & bass, putting on one of their best line-ups to date for this month’s fifth birthday event. David Pollock speaks to guest DJ Friction and promoter Simon McGrath

I t’s 7pm on Friday night, and promoter Simon McGrath is getting ready to host his first Xplicit of 2010 at

Edinburgh’s Bongo Club. The venue is deserted, but a huge sound system on loan from the venue’s dub reggae night Messenger Sound System is already set up in front of the stage and looks ready to cause some damage. It says a lot about the

popularity of Xplicit in its home city that this residents’ night, in aid of charity, will be the lesser of its two outings this month. The next is one of its quarterly (or twice per university term) specials at Potterrow students’ union, where an all-star cast of drum & bass artists will gather to celebrate five years of the club’s life. McGrath expects, as usual for one of these larger dates, a 1200 capacity sell-out within its own genre, it’s fair to say that Xplicit ranks alongside the likes of Colours, Optimo and Subculture as one of Scotland’s most recognisable clubbing brands. ‘When the night started there was nothing else out there really killing it,’ says McGrath, taking a seat for just a few minutes before rushing off to do some last-minute flyering. ‘Obviously Manga [legendary but now defunct Edinburgh drum & bass club] was a huge night for the city, but when that finished the drum & bass scene in Edinburgh hit a lull. I’d worked behind the bar in clubs, I knew how things worked and I wanted to give promoting a go myself. I



and Chase &

Status having

emphatically crossed over to the mainstream

in recent years. ‘These are guys who all had

their Scottish debuts at Xplicit,’

says McGrath. ‘Chase & Status, Spor, Pendulum . . . in fact, one of Pendulum’s very first live shows was with us, I think they’d only done Glastonbury and one or two other dates before they brought it here. Sub Focus too, he’s going to be the next big thing on Ram Records [jungle DJ and producer Andy C’s label, also home to Chase & Status] a lot of these guys we were booking before they were even big enough to headline.’ While Xplicit is designed mainly to replicate what McGrath calls ‘London-style line-ups’

eventually did it just so I could book the guests I wanted to see.’ Xplicit’s first residency was at the Honeycomb on Niddry Street (now the Hive), and it’s also appeared at the old Venue and, more recently, the HMV Picture House on its way to the Bongo Club and Potterrow. In that time the night has managed to surf a resurgence of interest in the D&B genre, with artists like

5 TUNES THAT MADE XPLICIT Most big tunes come and go, but some remain classic. Residents Paul Reset and Simon McGrath pick their favourites from five years of Xplicit

CHASE AND STATUS Eastern Jam (Ram Records) Paul Reset: ‘Scratch Perverts gave this its first Xplicit play at Potterrow and it was just fucking madness. This track signalled Chase & Status’ move towards becoming really huge

28 THE LIST 21 Jan–4 Feb 2010

producers. It mixes the harshness of drum & bass with the tempo of dubstep. There’s a massive crossover between the two genres. Dubstep almost is drum & bass, but with an emphasis on the bass rather than the noise.’

QEMISTS Stompbox (Spor Remix) (Ninja Tune) PR: ‘Qemists are a full band that are signed to Ninja Tune, so this track blends their live feel with Spor’s big chunky bass and really tough production. It’s not so much that it has

a great hook, it just sounds huge, like all of Spor’s stuff. He always goes down really well at the club, and he’s coming back again for the birthday party.’

HIGH CONTRAST If We Ever (Hospital)