Known for their celebration of real and conscious roots music, Reggae Roast have built themselves up as one of the most vibrant reggae collectives. This time, the crew leveraged their quarterly residency at Plan B to lure us to the south side of London, just before the technicolor railway bridge and fifty metres from the salt fish patties of Brixton Village. The hype hadn’t burrowed into my bones until I showed up to an eager queue of at least seventy-five dub-heads; wide-eyed for a night of bass from the king of selectors –David Rodigan.
The boys from Reggae Roast, Ramon Judah and Clapper Priest, opened with an uplifting and embracing set of foundations root reggae. Together they built up the crowd with deeper vibrations and foreshadowed an early morning of sub-heavy dubstep. However, it wasn’t until the ‘World Cub Clash Champion’ began to flip through his zip-up CD case with hand-printed track listings that the club rushed towards capacity.
The beats of Judah and Priest tampered off and the sways of the crowd slowed. “No no no, you can’t test Rodigan, no way boy…” from King Tubby’s ‘You Don’t Love Me’ faded into the haze. Just as the crowd went wild and rushed to the decks, David Rodigan would begin his set by compelling us to beg for the baseline.
The night wasn’t about the technicalities of mixing nor what is about seamlessly progressing from track to track. Instead, the set was about storytelling. Through reggae and rock-steady ska, he wanted everyone to experience Jamaican music like he had. Rodigan engaged the crowd in a way that celebrated the call and response delivery rooted in reggae music. He took us back his first clashes, against Barry G on JBC Radio, and to the Wailers of ’69 with a night full of goodies ‘from the Rodigan dub plate basket’.
And just as the crowd settled into mystical offbeat rhythms and staccato chords, Mr. RamJam spun over 3 decades of dub music and dropped Digital Mystikz. The once rhythmic skank escalated into a mosh pit as dubstep took over. A mosh-pit, but with a lot more love and a lot more rhythm. There was something about Plan-B’s warehouse walls, painted with flags – Brazilian, Swiss, Jamaican, German – and the way Rodigan spoke about ‘the man’ that made that mosh pit rush like one.
The rub-a-dub riddims continued for the full ninety minutes, riding on wave after wave of bass and vibration. There is something quite special about seeing David Rodigan in Brixton, something makes you feel The Abyssinian’s ‘Declaration of Rights’ with a much more indulgent and submissive ear. Roddy ended and paved the way for Shepdog with a shout out to the broken hearted as the voice of Delroy Wilson, “You, cheated, you cheated, you cheated, you cheated on me”, filled the room. Tonight we were anything but cheated.