The Cause for our return: Chase and Status [Gig Review]
It felt only right and proper that the first rave since the world collapsed - indeed 'the first Thursday of dancing in almost 18 months' as described by The Cause - was Chase and Status. We had the pleasure of seeing them once before at a RTRN II JUNGLE event, but the giddy excitement at the prospect of seeing some of the best in the business do their thing in the flesh still felt as novel and real as ever, especially given the year and a half we just had.
Having said this, Chase and Status themselves haven't been exactly quiet as the world shut down. Vocal supporters of the various Save Our Scene-type movements, Chase and Status have continually used their outlet to fly the flag for an industry that was (and in many ways still is) gravely in the firing line of the pandemic, and as lovers of music we should all be thankful that they have. As well as this, under the RTRN brand, they put out two bespoke NHS-inspired designs of merch, with proceeds going to the NHS Charities Together.
The event itself was held at The Cause in North London. The Cause is a fascinating space, this being made obvious to us by on the day leaning back on one of the walls, only to find out that it was, literally, makeshift as the structure leant back with us. Reminiscent of a building site in it's early stages of development, The Cause is a purposefully finite venue (it only plans to exist for about 18 months) and was put there, wall by makeshift wall, in effort to 'celebrate dance music culture, London nightlife, independent business and positive mental health'.
When it isn't throwing raves with the likes of Chase and Status, The Cause provides a space for start ups and freelancers alike to cohabit, has a barbers and a tattooist and, get this: houses a dog training and day care centre above it's main room. Between this and Chase and Status' charitable efforts, whoever said raving wasn't wholesome?
So we get to this place, and explore the various rooms, spanning the Theatre (where the main event would be held), the Greenhouse and Terrace, the Yard and the Cage. Each truly had its own personality and it was amazing to be able to traverse the venue as a whole and be able to experience each room, and the DJ's that came with them, with relative ease. The Theatre blended seamlessly from indoor to outdoor, with the DJ's in the booth being able to have one foot in both. This allowed for the perfect raver's atmosphere of hot, sweaty, powered energy in a darker room with the strobe lights, whilst providing the breath of fresh air we all crave after a hard skank (without losing sight of the act)! It is always the case that some rooms and their sounds are better than others, but there was a beauty in the choice presented by The Cause that lasted us right through to home time.
The crowds started off disparate, with friends staying in their groups and solo ravers keeping themselves to themselves, until it happened. We're not quite sure what it was that made us know, but with a change in the atmosphere in the whole venue, and almost each and every attendee now suddenly coalescing around the Theatre, we figured it was time. The indefinable beckon of Chase and Status beginning their set was calling, and after so long of having to keep our social distance, mask up and second-guess every trip to the supermarket, we could think of nothing else but to become one with the crowd carrying an eagerness that would only grow.
There wasn't that much about the set that would surprise you. Every wheel up felt utterly deserved, each drop was dirtier than the next (in the good way), and MC Irah hyped up the crowd in the inimitable way he does. In a perfect world, there would've been more of the discography in the set the crowd knew the words to ('No Problem' being one of these where the voice boxes were definitely taken casualty), but even though these were seemingly few and far between, it didn't take away in any sense from the set. Part-way through the set, Irah repeatedly affirmed to the crowd that 'this is Chase and Status'. On the face of it, this doesn't seem a statement with as much depth as the next, but as we stood there, close enough to be able to make out the details of the faces of Saul and Will, witnessing musical magic being made in the flesh, interacting with fellow ravers we'd never met and will probably never meet again, back releasing purely awesome amounts of serotonin, dopamine and whatever else goes on up there, and doing all of this after the truly awful lockdowns - we think Irah got it spot on. This is Chase and Status.
What was nice about the event as a whole was that Chase and Status were extremely distinct, but didn't feel 'separate'. This was true both metaphorically and physically - with the crowd literally surrounding their booth setup. The time before and after their set, made up of very good DJ's and a very good setting, inculcated so brilliantly what we all know as ‘the vibe’.
But in the hour and a half they carved out, the relative old-timers of the scene stamped their authority, drum and bass prowess, and nonchalant genius right onto, we think, the very fabric of the genre. They put on a set that confirms this is a group that no longer simply chase any status. It's already there.