On Sunday night, from the back of a cone-shaped DJ booth known as “the vortex,” dubstep producer Datsik turned the 9:30 Club into a vibrating cavern of thrashing limbs. The audience members, wearing all sorts of lights, fabrics and body paint, came hungry for brash, mechanical swaths of noise. That’s exactly what Datsik dished out, never offering anything that could spoil his fans’ appetite, instead delivering a safe mixture of new and old material.
Datsik, a.k.a. Troy Beetles, is a 24-year-old Canadian-born producer now popping up regularly on major EDM festival bills and at the top of dance music charts. He’s also one of the inspirations for the term “brostep.” The word was first used as a joke in an online forum but is now a genre descriptor for aggressive, robotic-sounding dubstep.
Power drills, earthquakes and cyborg groans are a few things that came to mind while listening to his set. His selections inspired dancers to churn into uncontrollable frenzies, and his pace offered little downtime to recharge batteries. By the end of the hour-plus set, fatigue hung heavy on the faces of his fans.
When Datsik did veer away from dubstep bangers, it was into sure-fire hip-hop crowd-pleasers like Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” and House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” all loaded with a little extra electro.
Robot sounds aside, the set often felt like it was running on autopilot. There were no surprises, which didn’t seem to bother anyone in attendance, but it ultimately gave the performance a monotonous feel. The mixing was auto-synced, the lights swirling around the DJ booth were auto-synced, the clubgoers all raised their hands in unison and even bugged out right on cue. As far as DJing goes, Datsik did little more than jump on the mic, jump on his toes and at one point jump into the crowd.
For a sound that can be so reckless, the performance lacked any kind of rough edge.
This was never more evident than right before the set’s last song, a four-to-the-floor cut called “Flashlights” by Sygma. He prefaced the cut by calling it “a little experimental, don’t judge me.” The song didn’t sound too different from the ones that preceded it, and the crowd ate it up, but a little more experimentation would have done the night some good.
Yenigun is a freelance writer.