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In Leicester, right underneath Bistro Pierre, three floors below Berridge Street, within the murky confines of the Below basement, a stalwart of the East Mids scene and a DMC World Champion, Jon1st, delivered a world-class scratch DJ set in formidable style. Oliver Payne was there. 

The other week, Leicester’s biggest legend since Attenborough, Jon1st, laid down some seriously sketchy beats for those at Below for RYVM’s biggest headline-led party yet. With both Jon and RYVM sporting a similar broken, halftime DnB and post-dubstep sound it felt only right that the two should come together in one epic night where the city’s avid fans of the DMC World Champion and those who perhaps didn’t know him as well could embrace in a memorable and messy underground basement rave three floors below ground level. 

RYVM’s infamous and devoted community of ravers: a group of Leicester’s most receptive ravers and knowledgeable bass music heads, are what make new faces leave each event with positive and refreshed outlooks on the city’s nightlife. Only in their second year, they have to be one of the most tantalising brands representing intimate, grassroots parties in the East Midlands. No snobbery. No negativity. Anything goes. Plus this event’s crowd, who reflected the same combination of humble politeness and un-yielding rave attitude found in Jon1st’s own personality, were what made this a night to remember. Alongside Jon’s world-class scratching skills, of course.

The night, as with every RYVM, contained an eclectic palette of music from across the electronic spectrum, with each resident cleverly picking the suitable elements of their own genres to best suit the vibe of the night. And, as always, it worked. Resident DJ Kenpachi kicked off with bopping bass house vibes at the start of the night, clearly keeping the tempo low as a basis for it to build. It did, with Ressika keeping things rolling till 1am, offering a mellow selection of breaks, leftfield techno, UK funky and percussion-heavy rave vibes from Yak, Overmono, E-Unity and Martyn. By this time the vibes were set; tempo already reaching 140bpm.

Then, taking things even faster and into DnB territory, was Deniall. A new addition to the usual RYVM residents, he flew through a hefty collection of minimal vibes that came from the same vein as the likes of Icicle and Dub Phizix. This was followed by regular Zander Toxsikk, who’s made a name for himself in Leicester as a go-to for dark dubstep, evident from the Leicesterdeep days as well as ‘deep:artment’ right now, and for explorations in the various corners of DnB. He boldly covered both of these styles; one highlight being a mashup of Ternion Sound - Verify Me VIP and Tempa T - Next Hype (XXXX bootleg), which got the intimate basement, with mesh now hanging low overhead and ravers packed in tight, worked up just in time for the man they all came to see. 


And by the time Jon1st came on for his late night set at 2.30am, ravers in Below thought they were prepared. They weren’t. His unique style of scratching, which sees him exploit the kit to its full potential and use it almost as its own percussive instrument, came as a surprise at that time - and it worked perfectly. It was comedy gold to see the faces of ravers – by this point well into proceedings -  light up, surprised when this top tier scratcher did his thing. Some seemingly forgot what they were in for. Others knew all along; smiles beaming. This was special.

Jon snapped back and forth between tracks in head-spinning succession, and effortlessly teasing us with scratching on occasions while at others making selection the priority. At the centre of all this sweaty madness was Jon1st: quiet, collected and calm with musical genius bubbling underneath the surface. 

He maintained a straight concentration throughout, dipping into old school jungle anthems, one being the all-out ragga attack of Topcat - Original Ses [Police in helicopter]. The crowd were introduced to the energetic footwork flavours in the form of his brand new bootleg of ‘Boy Don’t Waste My Time’, too. Jon1st even managed to go about skilfully scratching in some of his own productions into the mix. Jon1st productions, you ask? Yes

Afterwards, residents Oddity and Neon cooled things down with a typical strange neurofunk sound that the later hours at RYVM often come accustom to. It’s safe to play the more daring, darker stuff at this time, and especially at RYVM, because the crowd are mostly right there with you for every mix.

What made this such a special night was the pure passion that was thrown into it from all angles, from the RYVM gang right through to the devoted fans that came. Jon1st is a DJ the Leicester scene is immensely proud of. What he has done for the scratch scene nationwide is impressive, and he’s toured all over and done so much. It is nice to see everyone’s favourite back in his hometown, comfortably dishing out the high calibre scratch skills we have all come to love to a handful of fans the same way he would anywhere else. A big moment. See you at the next musically rich and vibrant RYVM event.

Oliver Payne 

February 20th 2019 

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