Not just a genre, but a cultured lifestyle.
For people who are about to read this and have no idea about gabber, I’ll go into detail a little further down, but the only way we can go on is if you embrace this genre for yourself by listening to a track below. Anyone who is already aware of this style of music, you’re free to carry on to my next rant.
Originating in the early 1990s, gabber had hit The Netherlands like a bullet, especially in Rotterdam. At the time, Detroit acid house was a big hit in cities like Amsterdam, but for the gabba’ crew, they considered this style of music ‘snobby’ and irrelevant to their culture, which at the time was very criminal orientated, thus making their own hardcore type tracks and inventing gabber.
It had some elements of acid house, like the thumping kick drum and overwhelming hoover, expect it was distorted to the point where it sounded like a headache for people who listened from outside the party. This is what made it stand out though, not to mention the underground culture that came from it like fashion, but I’ll touch on that later. For now, let’s have a look at how the name gabber even came about…
“Bargoens” is a type of dutch slang which was used by criminals, salesmen etc, and to be honest, there’s too much information on it for me to waste my time on it, but without this slang, the iconic genre would have never gained it’s reputable name. Gabber basically means ‘buddy’ or ‘mate’, and first came about in an article when a local DJ was asked his opinion on the whole Rotterdam style at the time, which was very much hardcore. Have you ever heard of Chinese whispers, well that’s sort of how this happened. After reading this article, local Rotterdam DJ Paul Elstak printed the first Euromasters record which titled “It’s not a disgrace to be a gabber!”
Let’s just say the rest was history – the genre became a way of life for many people and spread to countries like Belgium, Germany and Italy. It started to coincide with fashion – AirMax 95s, bomber jackets and football casual brands from Italy, the gabba’ crew saw themselves as ‘hardcore’. Entering a gabber party would be like something you’ve never experienced in your life, tracks ranging from 150-180bpm, clothes destroyed in marker pens and people dancing extremely aggressively.
As they say, ‘all good things come to an end’ and so did gabber. I can’t help and look back on this thumping sound without thinking that surely there’s some fight left in the old dog. Over the past year I’ve been indulging myself in pretty hard distorted techno, being influence with acts like AnD and Bleaching Agent, and I can see elements in music these days that remind me of gabber. I’m not comparing them because let’s be honest, they are different. All I’m saying is, going from hard techno to gabber isn’t much of a jump, whereas if someone who listened to disco tried to listen to gabber, it would be like jumping the Grand Canyon. Thankfully, there is a big audience for that hard techno sound in 2017, so maybe, just maybe, there might be a chance for gabber to resurrect!