When the name of a gig was first used in the english language to describe chaos or madness, as Bedlam, a hugely popular club night that takes over the Cardiff Student's Union for a few nights every year, you know that you're in for a treat, and last Friday night was no exception. With 3 rooms of music covering almost every facet of bass music, a stellar line up with some truly international dance music stars, the stage was set (especially in the main room where Netsky's extensive live gear covered most of the space,) for a classic night!
Although I was determined to spend a bit of time in each of the various rooms, the strength of the main room line up meant there was only one place for most of the night and after queuing in the decidedly frosty Welsh weather, I entered to catch the second half of a DJ set by a man called Nick who helps to run lots of the Bedlam events and cracked out a set of lovely rich house, little cuts of dubstep and a spattering of moombah, aided by a flood of smoke machines and bright green strobes. Despite having never heard his DJ'ing before, it was a lovely warm up for the next five hours of madness.
With a bit of luck and some crafty elbows, we managed to get squashed right up against the barrier at the front of the Solus stage, and at just after 11, with a roar from the crowd, Ayah Marar leapt onto stage with a fantastic rendition of Follow U, and set the floor in motion. Playing an explosive set, delivering hit after hit in quick succession, with tracks from her debut The Real, mixed in with collaborations with Camo & Krooked, she danced and skanked cat like around the stage, exchanging banter with her MC and never letting up on her relentless energy!
Following her departure and the break out of a small fight behind me over whether mosh pits to waiting music were acceptable (as general gig etiquette, no one moshes when no one's on stage,) following some calming measures by the MC, Jack Beats took their places behind the decks and delivered an hour of their trademark, squidgy basslines combined with epic chords, and threw into the mix other cuts from various tracks, constantly keeping the crowd in flow, building anticipation and exceeding expectations with every rise and drop, thanks to some clever mixing.
Following them, we made a little excursion to the grime room, and found it in rude health, with a crowd eagerly lapping up the beats and rhymes, before heading back into the sweltering Solus pit for the main event, Netsky's live show. After all the hype, this had to be excellent, since capturing all the intricate details of a dance track, whilst creating as much excitement as a live track is never an easy task but the Belgian, who's meteoric rise to stardom had come on the back of his groove and slick beats, unleashed a classic performance.
With the audacity and energy of rock stars, he and his live band delivered hit after hit, cracking out the best of new album '2', bringing on guest vocalist Billie for We Can Only Live Today, playing new and unnamed tracks, along with renditions of old favourites such as Secret Agent and Moving With You. The set was so well delivered that despite the best efforts of Friction, whose stirling DJ skills would normally top a night, he couldn't quite create the same buzz that Netsky did, although a quality selection of tunes past and present ensured that as the beers flowed there was still a dancefloor of mayhem.
Towards the end of his set, I took second little departure to room 2, with 20 minutes of old school groove and slightly more underground, deep drum & bass being played to a smaller, no less passionate crowd before returning for one last rave under the guidance of Delta Heavy. Famed for their combination of full on, dancefloor crushing bass lines mixed with quality melodies, the last set of the night managed to wring every last drop of energy (plus sweat in the case of some people) from those still standing at gone 3am. With a combination of their originals, remixes and some truly monstrous tracks from heavyweights of the bass music scene, with a remix of Monsta's 'Holdin On' being a particular highlight.
It may not be the most sophisticated of events, but for the highest quality music and the most fun you'll have on a night out, Bedlam certainly hits the sweet spot, and as we shuffled out at gone 4am, with one drunken reveller standing at the barrier demanding 'just one more tune mate,' no one really wanted it to end!