Huddling into a crowded Love Inn, those eager to hear from grime veteran Sir Spyro took seats in assembly fashion, all facing a deep-set leather sofa – where the sermon was about to unfold. Dan Hancox, the Guardian's resident grime correspondent, was leading the discussion. To much of his relief the chat unfolded in an equally relaxed fashion as the setting, which these intimate talks (especially those featuring producers) so often do not.
Over the course of the talk, Spyro elaborated on how his father – a successful reggae musician, was mainly accountable for his interest in music, and also on how his elder brother and sister – both DJs themselves, gave him an introduction into mixing records, utilising their jungle collection as a means to learn... albeit without permission. He then delved into stories of his pirate station early days, namely experiences with Rinse and Geeneus, then the onset of garage, followed by the formation, rise, fall and subsequent resurrection of grime – all amidst a world tour DJ'ing for Tinchy Stryder. It's a pretty legitimate grounding for any DJ, and his tales shed light onto how he acquired such a knack for controlling crowds – something he'd be doing a lot of later that evening.
Onto the latter half of the programme, and without any observable warm up the night kicked off as soon as doors opened with a heavy b2b2b2b featuring Sir Hiss, Lemzly Dale, Drone and Invader Spade, who by no means took the 10 o’clock slot as a reason to dial things down. L U C Y then took control, who was by this point already playing to a packed venue. As one of the newest faces on the Bristol grime circuit, she proved capable of rising to the occasion, delivering a blend of the grittier, dirtier side of 140, as well as smoother, melodic tones. Following on was Red Bull Academy graduate Drippin, who offered a selection more slanted towards the trap and vapour side of things, reminiscent of Silk Road Assassins/ Last Japan, keeping it varied and energetic enough to maintain the stamina of the crowd.
Entering the second half of the night, Spyro took the reins and it’s safe to say things got chaotic quickly. The raucous energy of his selections pushed the intimate venue to its capacity, with the dancefloor consumed with frantic moshing, flailing gunfingers and spilt beverages for the entirety of the set. Reactions heightened with each drop of his own productions, boasting tracks from AJ Tracey, to Stormzy, to the undisputed most pulled up track of 2016; Topper Top. Rather than simply conveying his scoop of new tracks in a clean, blended mix, the set was transformed into a showcase of skill, presented to the crowd in much the same way a scratch DJ would do so, aiming to impress. DJ EZ's sets do the same with garage. This is no doubt a skill developed with longevity and persistence, two things both Spyro and EZ have abundance of - refining their craft over decades, until there's a slight fractional possibility that their sets have become if anything... a bit much.
Words: Julian Caldwell