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Shapeshifter Re: Location Tour - Final Leg

Whilst the red and black clad loyalists were looting and pillaging every beer tap on Courtenay Place (and being generous to buskers), mayhem of the sonic kind was to be inflicted by fellow Christchurchers Shapeshifter.

28 May 2002

Shapeshifter Re: Location Tour Final Leg

May 4th SubNine

Fevered drinking and tribalistic chanting was imprinted firmly in the warm evening air as jubilant Canterbury supporters stormed free from the confines of the Cake-tin, filled with victorious energy due to their teams win over the Hurricanes.

Whilst the red and black clad loyalists were looting and pillaging every beer tap on Courtenay Place (and being generous to buskers), mayhem of the sonic kind was to be inflicted by fellow Christchurchers Shapeshifter.

This southern city has long been New Zealand's most dedicated Drum'n'Bass stronghold, boasting a long list of visits from international producers, being a launchpad for the careers of ones like Presha and Pots and currently a breeding ground for some of this country's freshest sounds. The biggest beast to come from this spawning pool is the bass-sculpting breakbeat band Shapeshifter.

After releasing an EP and an LP and securing a hell of a reputation for their energetic live interpretation of the Drum'n'Bass sound, Shapeshifter are taking their honed sound to the world with Melbourne to serve as their new base.

This tour was to be a farewell to their loyal massive and it was a privilege for SubNine to host their final gig in New Zealand for possibly quite some time.

An incredible lineup was arranged for the event consisting of worthy D'n'B diplomats from the main centres ensuring a sellout status on the ticket sales.

Nikal launched proceedings with subwoofer soaking grooves as SubNine quickly became tightly packed to capacity in seemingly the span of a few minutes.

The anticipation, as well as the temperature, could only rise as Flex took the tables to unleash a perfect intro of rampant junglism to shift everyone into proper perspective.

Finally, the Shapeshifter quartet hit the specially erected stage to unleash their searing style. No dubplates here.

This was performed with a merging of digital and more "traditional" instruments with a dash of jazz sensibility and a dollop of sheer talent.

Starting off in rolling fashion, Shapeshifter dropped the tempo back to give a jazzpozay of their mellower side as Devin and Sam pulled themselves off the keyboards to sooth the souls of the congregation with saxophone and guitar respectively, whilst synthbassist Nick kept the low frequencies humming and flowing along.

Before long however, the frenzy spiraled back into action with all present howling with excitement.

Drummer Dreadford kept time with the precise efficiency of a metronome only stopping to cut loose with mad drum breaks designed surely to send the assemblage into physical and mental spasms.

The rest of the band was weaving a veritable digital dreamtime along to the rhythm and SubNine could barely contain the endorphin rush coursing through all present.

This event also saw the return to Wellington of the MC Mana who has been shaking things up on the mic in Christchurch over 2002. Mana seems to be more at home with the freeform approach of Shapeshifter adding fine lyrical tactics into the overall mix.

After a mind-bending encore, the bye-byes came into effect with Devin offering farewell, and thanks, to the loyal massive.

After Shapeshifter had filed off, Concord Dawn (represented this particular evening by Evan Short) returned everything back to traditional DJ format and renewed the sub-driven momentum for the presiding massive.

Recent 12" release Morning Light (and international dance floor smasha!) served as a suitably eerie intro into Concord Dawns hard-edged sound.

It all seemed to fly by, as in due time Bass Frontiers main man and Flipside specialist Sean took the tables for some of his trademark soulful, buoyant selections.

Joining him was the MC Rizla, who after applying subtle soundcraft on the main mix for ShapeShifter's set, took the mic to let loose with a frenetic ragga-style commentary.

Sean gave a taste of what the local headz will be missing out on, as he too will be relocating to Melbourne as part of the NZ D'n'B world colonization programme.

Proceedings shifted further down in to sweeter tempo, with Pacific Heights, a.k.a. Devon, returning to the saxophone with Pylonz on the mix, showcasing yet another range of flavours from the fABEL stable.

It seems a real shame that we are probably not going to see the ShapeShifter posse for the rest of this year, but this evening was an incredible showcase of the refined and original sounds of locally produced D'n'B.

With acts like these taking word to the world, New Zealand will be a location spoken of by Junglists worldwide in the same breaths and tones as London and Bristol!