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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

SubVersion Stop 216: The Dublings + Mackating @ The Cellar, Oxford - 26th November 2013

The Dublings + Mackating @ The Cellar, 26th November 2013

Mackating are no strangers to the local reggae circuit. The first time I saw them, Christmas Eve 2006, was my first ever gig in Oxford. Tonight they are DJing and the drummer is even serving drinks behind the bar. And before The Dublings commence their set, we're ineffably sated by their back-to-back mixing.

A version of Jean Knight's soul classic "Mr Big Stuff" goes down well among tonight's paltry attendance, ramping the energy following, providing cool contrast to the understated, reserved demeanour of The Dublings, a white and mixed race dub group who are joining them on the decks before they break into band mode.

"Who do you think you are?" sang Knight. A new five-piece group of reggae and dub lovers brought together by the foundations of dub - soundsystem bass weight, party vibes and a vestige to channel Lee Perry through enough red hot vinyl in this, the opening lines. Staccato live drum bursts on one recording imbue the set with a rare urgency to excite. Although the blending isn't trickery-heavy, Mackating and The Dublings start by giving the lungs of dub in relation to its more renowned cousin reggae a hearty connection throughout.

Now, the band: female/male vocalist, three electrics, a drummer, "from the outside in", as the female vocalist sings. An Adele-like register. The incantations "there must be more I can do, there must be more I can say" is resplendent with boy-girl singalong charm it's difficult not to like. Epic poetry percussion peppers our narrative with a punk energy united to electric wah-wah, as they invite us to "keep it on the down low". A punkier vibe then abounds The Cellar, turning in a detour of dub, amping the reservation sensibility on its head in favour of rock-out periods. Contrast between band members who aren't very imposing but make imposing noise is a paradox full of beans, inviting seeing dub being less about aesthetic dynamics and more about weight of the sub sound.

The certainty is: The Dublings shouldn't be off your Christmas card list before long. Catch them as they rise through ranks of the local scene.

Mick Buckingham

The Dublings' SoundCloud

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