Spontaneous Combustion

Wildfire doesn’t have shit on the spread of dubstep. The slow, wompy darker-sister of the electronic club beat only leaked out the London back-alleys five short years ago; now, propelled by entertainment capitalists the planet over — each determined to be the first to expose the underground — dubstep is under death threat of overpopularity.

UK originals are being flown into LA, dangerously visible under the Hollywood magnifying glass. Top-40 leeches like Snoop Dogg, Rihanna and Britney Spears are catching wind — kicking sparse Lil Jon jangles for the slugging halts and screeches of dubstep (albeit at its safest and simplest). Even Wu-Tang tried to ride the sparks of the exploding scene with a disc of classic verses remixed by “indie” dubstep producers.

I mean, fuck — as of three weeks ago, UCSD has its own dubstep club. That’s when you know the hip factor has blown.

But it’s a more natural fit than one might think. According to Dubstep at UCSD founder and engineering grad student David Gross, the scene’s diehards are dirt-styled twentysomethings loitering on the introspective fringe of dance culture, shying from LED lasers, happy pills and the sweaty rave grind. UCSD introverts, rejoice: You can get out of your molding dorm rooms for a night and still be perfectly antisocial. Because it’s built on a woozy 2step rhythm, moving to dub is a noncontact sport with a hoodie/headphone uniform.

Gross is optimistic that student interest in his cause will snowball until we’ve got ourselves a mini dubstep scene on campus — to a degree that could rival the Che Cafe of yesteryear. And it does seem the base is there: On the same Saturday that Let’s Bounce — UCSD’s most popular deejay event — went down in the Price Center Ballrooms, dubstep “brainfeeder” Nosaj Thing managed to draw a faster and more committed crowd to the Loft next door. The kids apparently got so hyped that one pulled a fire alarm (either that or a fun-killing security guard wanted to flush the hordes from Price Center and do a recount — if you’re the conspiracy-theory type).

The venue’s coordinators, according to Gross, didn’t let Nosaj set up the woofers he needed for the maximum bass experience. And, as any true dubhead can tell you, the beat is nothing if not rattling the phlegm from your most neglected alveoli.

“I’ve been to shows where you literally couldn’t breathe,” Gross said. “Dubstep is definitely not for people with pre-existing heart conditions.”

Now, thanks to the electronic Dome at Coachella, UCSD has a student org devoted to womping on the weekly. It was in the Dome, where they ran the beat run until 4 a.m., that Gross first discovered his love for the dubstep culture. He then spent the summer getting whirlwinded into the LA scene — rivaled only by that in England and New York, Gross said — hopping between word-of-mouth warehouse shows and even systems set up in movie theaters. (In the seated environment, the show can be all about the visuals, he said. And, of course, the vibrations.)

By the end of last quarter, Gross and seven of his friends had materialized a plan to recreate the dizzying LA dubstep vibe here at UCSD. But as soon as the thousands of fliers for their first show at Porter’s Pub went up in Price Center three weeks ago, Gross said the administration started asking questions, trying to “roadblock” the club by mandating expensive university equipment and security guards.

“They charge like $800 for a fog machine and a bunch of lights,” Gross said.

The club relegated all questions to Stephen Lawler, owner of the Pub (who’s more used to getting university admin off his back), and set a determined tunnel vision on gathering deejays and equipment for that night’s show.

“We were like pushing 200-pound speakers across the school on dollies,” Gross said. “We didn’t even have a microphone until the very end.”

And they would rather work that way — descending upon the unsuspecting students in a bass explosion, creating a sort of flash audio-mob that can’t be traced nor prepared for. Frustrated with the time-consuming process of applying for A.S. funds, the club has even bypassed that opportunity for a more spontaneous, you-find-a-needle, I’ll-get-an-emcee approach. The sound system, for instance, is currently being borrowed from a guy named Juan from East County.

“He’s just some guy we met,” Gross said. “Some guy with a ton of speakers.”

The club’s motto is “Experience Audio Thunder.” Unfortunately, chill as the Pub may be, its rickety plywood frame is no match for that kind of loud. At last Tuesday’s Dub at the Pub show — sadly underattended due to the rain (though I guess that only makes it more underground) — every nail in the place was all but buzzing out of its socket, absorbing all that good, warm worminess before it could find its way into our chest cavities.

That’s why Gross is hoping Mike Gao, a graduate student in the music department equally committed to the dubstep cause (he does the visuals and helps recruit guests for the Dub at the Pub shows), could one day convince the UCSD academics to give the stuff a listen. Just imagine, Gross said, all that perfect rhythm allowed to ruminate in a practice room at the Conrad Prebys Music Center.

Before the scientists realize its power and it flies the underground forever, get in on this shit. It’s happening this instant, and if you’re not here, you’ll miss it. So find your way to the Pub next Tuesday evening — there’s eight dirt-styled twentysomethings there who want to show you the dub.

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