One of the most exciting pieces of news to drop last year was that DnB royalty Hospital Records and Bristol’s genre-defying, mega-rave fanatics The Blast would be teaming up to take the reins of new brand ‘Shockout’ in 2018. Having hosted large-scale music events such as NASS and Westfest for almost 15 years now, it was only right that the site for such a beautiful coupling of alternative music minds would be the Royal Bath and West Showground. Boasting 4 arenas, gates from 7pm and music spanning 8pm – 6am, Shockout was a multi spectrum bass extravaganza set to rattle even the hardiest raver’s ribs. Sub-zero temperatures did not stop 7,000 eager punters flocking to sleepy Shepton Mallet and boy was the night set to be lit.
The years of experience and acute attention to detail shared by the two heavyweight promoters was abundantly evident upon arrival on site. This wasn’t just a chance to get hammered; a plentiful food court, whirling fairground rides and a heartily stocked Shockout shop all added to the festival experience. Wandering around in the first music-free hour revealed homely touches such as an espresso bar, alongside delicious food outlets Marion’s Deli German Sausages & Food and The Diner Shack. One of the most attractive sanctuaries was the luxurious VIP bar, which offered calm music, blissful ambience, magnificent boudoir décor and a private bar. It was certainly a clever move by those who paid that bit extra for the VIP treatment as the priority queue sped people in in no time.
An impressive crowd had already formed by the time Nu:Logic – joint alias of brothers Nu:Tone and Logistics – graced the Hospitality stage. Their combined set was a pleasurable fusion between Logistics’ beautifully melodic liquid and the more jungle-influenced breaks of Nu:Tone. With Logistics’ new album ‘Hologram’ set to land on 30th March, it was the perfect opportunity for the brothers in arms to test out some new tracks. The highlight of the set came at the end when ‘Chant’ (forthcoming on Hologram) dropped to insane crowd approval that shook the rafters. Ruthless proved why he’s been Hospitality’s golden boy MC of late by putting in a 3-hour shift, the last hour of which saw him combine with S.P.Y for a perfect dynamic duo. Fresh from completing EP trilogy ‘Alone in the Dark’ the versatile Brazilian producer begged reverence from ready ravers with genius blends and flavoursome energy.
Albeit being the smallest stage, ‘Dazed’ was nothing short of a cracking time, and hosted some of the local Southwest’s best party starters as well as legends in the game such as Serial Killaz. A particular highlight was Shosh B2B A-Bee with the 24 Hour Garage Girls. Punters were already warmed up for Shosh’s bouncing basslines after her recent killer mini mix for Red Bull. With the 24 Hour Garage Girls ripping the front of stage with killer dance moves of maximum finesse, an energetic party vibe was in full swing.
Just half a week after Shockout the DnB titans over at Hospital Records announced Degs as the newest recruit to the label. An accomplished pianist, guitarist and singer, the multitalented musician has firmly earned this signing. Hosting for Hospital head honcho London Elektricity, Degs displayed a huge array of performing talent by hosting, hyping, singing and harmonising in equal measures. The mutual respect and musical chemistry between the two was palpable.
The RUN x Drum and Bass Arena x On a Mission stage deployed an enormous line-up of filthy DnB, including Fabio & Grooverider, Mampi Swift B2B Crissy Criss and Logan D & Evil B. Arena 3 pounded and rebounded with vigour of a colossal scale and SASASAS easily drew the busiest set of the night with their collective full-frontal vibe. It was a wonder that they even played, it being so soon after member Stormin MC sadly passed away. Salute to them for this ‘the show must go on attitude’.
The Blast has always branded itself on an eclectic convergence of musical genres and the offering for Shockout certainly ticked that box. Their Arena 1 stage boasted incredible variety that progressed from basshouse and bassline, with signature sets from Darkzy and Bru C, and Flava D. Mobo award winning J Hus boiled punters’ excitement to a critical level, until legends Shy FX and Stamina tipped the heady revellers into a heavenly fever of amen breaks and jungle flavours. Hazard and Hype then rolled out with their Playaz Recordings sound in a timeless set spanning all ages. Very special guests and Bristol’s sweethearts My Nu Leng switched the tempo back from 170 bpm to showcase their uniquely underground sound. Featuring Dread MC, the trio went in turbo mode and supplied wobble, rhythms and supersonic energy galore.
Back to the Arena 2 and the Hospital crew, and it was a delight to see Danny Byrd surprise an eager crowd with new tracks that suggest great things to come. GQ perfectly complemented the iconic legend with his trademark technical vocabulary and intimate flows. Veteran High Contrast performed as a one-off after taking a step back from playing out so regularly. His record box was packed full of dubplates old and new and classics such as his remix of Adele’s ‘Hometown Glory’ took everyone merrily down memory lane. As another classically trained musician, we’re eager to see what is instore for his ‘High Contrast Live’ venture. The stamina crew saw out the 5-6am ‘graveyard shift’ with Kings of the Rollers (Serum, Voltage and Bladerunner). Their unique set of steppy, simplistic, stripped back, and yet rolling jump-up, was reinforced adeptly by the word surgeon and ever-smiling Inja.
Lots can be taken away from Shockout not least the jam-packed and full-spectrum line up, high-quality food and vendors, the incredibly electric atmosphere and an insanely high level of production (those lasers!!). As a first event, it managed to pull a monstrous crowd with nothing but good vibes. Ravers young and old alike were left walking away chanting and boasting about the work Shockout created and we cannot wait to see what bright things are in store for the future of this memorable new brand.
Published on 10 March 2018 by Beth Bicknell and Elle Chilton-Knight