On the 18th of July Suki10c hosted the second instalment of ‘Deadpixels’, “Birmingham’s newest retro gaming night”, fusing the moody urban nightlife of Digbeth with such console-gaming classics as Street Fighter, Tomb Raider and Goldeneye. As Nikolay, Dasha and I entered the venue I was pre-empting my devolution into a rosy-cheeked fledgling as I caught sight of the Goldeneye menu screen, replete with all of the childhood wonderment of the then next-gen of gaming. Fortunately, I was able to control my excitement and Nikolay and I took to the pads for our first game of the 007 shooter with one of the promoters of the night. With Nikolay respectfully bowing out midway through, it ended in a tie between myself and the promoter – not bad after a 10-year hiatus! – after which he kindly provided a great vox pop, likening Digbeth to one of the main arteries connected to the heart of the city.
The evening was a slow-burner and modestly attended, but gradually, one by one, the venue began to fill out. As music went it was a hybridisation of dub reggae, dubstep, breakbeat/hip-hop and a general assortment of electronic dance music; a variety consistent with the rich history of urban music and club culture in Digbeth. Indeed, an apt setting for these confluent cultures. Since the early nineties MC’s have drawn on these classic retro titles as witticisms in their lyrics, and when sampling technology developed producers were able to patch in familiar sound bites from these games into their beats: an aesthetic adopted by a wide range of jungle, garage and grime producers including, most notably, Jo, Wiley, Zomby and Birmingham born Preditah. And that’s not to forget the tradition of martial arts in Hip-Hop/Grime culture (think Wu-Tang), where ciphers and battles are decided on the raw, lyrical force and dexterity of the MC’s. (Hell, grime legend D Double E couldn’t make it clearer with his ‘Street Fighter Riddim’!) It’s no secret that Digbeth has been a vital mainstay in the development of these cultural legacies in the UK, and Deadpixels’ bimonthly night presents a refreshing new direction. Everyone I spoke with effused on the importance of Digbeth as an aspiring, alternative community, facilitating these types of event.
Later in the evening Stale Dale & Chonkybeatz performed a masterful live beatboxing set as a respite from the button bashing. In fact, the Street Fighter corner had amassed a slew of budding players eager to test themselves against an opponent, Goldeneye too had its moments, but Lara Croft was left, sadly neglected in the middle of the dance floor. All in all, the night was a charming, down-tempo alternative to the usual offerings and I look forward to part three to see how they develop the idea.
Hamish Campbell-Legg, Project Volunteer