When considering the cultural exports of the Dutch, one may be quick to point toward their iconic Edam cheese, the windmill, or perhaps even a pair of wooden clogs. Yet it is Rotterdam’s niche subgenre of hardcore house music, ‘gabber’, which I plan to share with you in this article.
Born into the early 90s hardcore scene that had been gaining momentum in Rotterdam, the term ‘gabber’ was coined by recognised house DJ K.C. The Funkaholic, as a response given when asked about his thoughts regarding the city’s harder dance scene. Like the squeezed toothpaste tube, its contents spilled to the world, the ‘gabber head’ was born.
Like a voracious alphawolf leading its pack of synthesised bass drums
With its demonic bass drums, grizzly kick sounds, and 200+ beats-per-minute, gabber savagely enters the party. Like a voracious alphawolf leading its pack of synthesised bass drums, the genre prides itself on a heavy, overdriven bass sound, all sewn together in a heavily repetitive beat. When considering a comparison, one could mention the likes of Diplo, if he produced his tracks heavily intoxicated on lighter fluid, and played them to Satan's minions in the depths of hell. But beyond its exacerbated descriptions, the genre’s cult following cannot be denied.
In no other genre can two strangers unite at their shared love for 'filthy bass'
The typical fan may be recognised from an abundance of features: a shaven head, a pair of Nike Air Max 90s or simply an oversized bomber. While this distinct aesthetic is popular among hardcore followers, there’s no questioning of gabbers communal vibe. I can confidently proclaim that in no other genre of music can two strangers unite at their shared love for 'filthy bass', sweaty underground raving and baggy Lonsdale shirts, all at the same time.
While old school enthusiasts will recognise pioneers of the genre such as DJ Vince and 3 Steps Ahead, the genre has today been popularised through artists such as Death Grips, with their recent release Steroids merging the bands intense hip hop lyricism with the genres equally-powerful bass kick. It is with such forceful passion the genre drag itself into the 21st Century, and confirms itself as one of the most prolific subgenres.