With a mammoth queue outside (some lined up for five hours just to get in on the action) dubstep's pioneering club night FWD took its residence at central London super club The End for one last time a few weeks ago. The lineup—consisting of some of the most influential DJ's that have played at the event since it started in 2001—was one that mostly took a nostalgic theme in the lounge. Skream, Youngsta and DJ EZ all paid homage to the year that they made their mark on the UK music scene (2006, 2005, 2001 respectively) by playing sets with music released only during those 12 months.
As Skream took to the decks for his best of 2006 set, however, it was impossible to get anywhere remotely central in the room as he reeled off one of his many signature tunes, "Dutch Flowerz," to great elation from the crowd, some of whom were proudly strutting around shirtless. I escaped the stuffy surroundings, and headed off to the main room where there was more dancing space as grime DJ's Spyro and Maximum played an energetic array of grime, old and new. However the selection waned after the first 20 minutes, as it seemed that the crowd lost interest and the MC's (Jammer and Frisco) ran out of tricks and began repeating the same lyrics.
Photo credit: Shaun Bloodworth
The best set of the night came from DJ EZ, who blended 2001 garage classics such as "God Made Me Phunky" by Mike Dunn and "Little Man" by SIA with his swift mixing style which brought back memories of the seminal Pure Garage compilations of yesteryear. A very close second, though, was Plastician who went back-to-back with Chef in the main room, where they mixed ubiquitous, hard and pulsating mid-range wobblers like "3K Lane" by Jakes and Joker with Geiom's silky "Reminissin," the latter of which seems to be a sign of where the dubstep sound may heading towards in 2009.
Closing off the night in the lounge was an un-billed set by DJ Kismet and host Tippa who played a mix of acid, deep house and garage classics including "It's A London Thing." The performance had all the feel of an after hours lock-in with revelers, bar staff and FWD DJ's all paying their respects until 7 AM, putting an emphatic exclamation point on just what FWD and their stints at The End over the past few years have represented.