Bring the beat back
David Pollock checks out the state of drum & bass as Xplicit launch in Glasgow and Manga return to Edinburgh for a one-off special.
One weekend later this month shall surely prove whether or not drum & bass is still the force to be reckoned with it once was north of the border. Unusually for Scotland, the genre once held greater sway in Edinburgh than it did in Glasgow, with the much-lauded Manga being for a time the most talked-about club in the country - in fact, one of the most revered in the UK - as the brainchild of G-Mac and DJ Kid monopolised the affections of D&B fans across the land.
Times have changed though. With worthy venues closing across the capital, Manga - which had spread to a regular residency in Glasgow, as well as nights further afield - shut up shop earlier this year, with the men behind it taking a break and concentrating on larger-scale one-off events in the future.
It was the same story across the board, in fact, as DJ Kid’s Jungle Magic and Glasgow’s other regular night LiveVEvil ceasing to be going concerns around about the same time. The only success story seemed to be Edinburgh’s Xplicit, an exciting mixture of D&B and breakbeat which has consistently reported good crowds during a relatively short lifespan, which has included residencies at the Honeycomb, the Venue (both since shut down) and now the Bongo Club.
As eventually happens in situations like this, everything that’s been around seems to be coming around again. Now suitably rested, the Manga boys are returning for their first one-off live date at the Liquid Room this fortnight, featuring a special guest appearance by the night’s old friend Dillinja and his new protégés Cragz and Parallel Forces.
Xplicit, meanwhile - now Edinburgh’s premier, and only, monthly D&B night - is following Manga’s lead and starting a new regular excursion to the School of Art in Glasgow. Special guests for this event will be Pendulum and MC Verse, while the old LiveVEvil crew will be in attendance and a new sound system is being fitted specially for the occasion.
‘There haven’t been any regular drum & bass nights in Glasgow since LiveVEvil finished in December,’ says Xplicit’s promoter Simon McGrath, ‘so we thought it was just a good time to give something a try there. I mean, Glasgow seems to be a lot more techno orientated as a city, so that’s why we decided to bring in Pendulum for the first date. They’re the drum & bass act of the minute, they’re accessible, and they should be the perfect foundation to a new night through there.’
While Manga’s G-Mac contests that his club nights in Glasgow were largely successful, he does admit it was much more of an uphill struggle. ‘No matter what style of music you’re doing’, he ponders, ‘the city is much more geographically diluted than Edinburgh. In Edinburgh there’s a kind of heartland which contains only a certain amount of venues, whereas in Glasgow there are so many more places spread over a wider area, and much more choice. It means you have to work a lot harder to promote a night, and it won’t go well if you don’t.
‘As for Edinburgh, there is an audience, but in essence there are only four useable venues for nights like these. Trying to schedule things is difficult unless you go block-booking venues, and Edinburgh is missing out because of its lack of clubs. Again, you just have to go working a lot harder to make things happen.’
Xplicit launches at the School of Art, Glasgow, Fri 10 Nov. Manga’s one-off event is at the Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Sat 11 Nov.