Shootings add to tension between rival music crews

Clubland violence: Bungled robbery blamed for gun wounds to two men but garage scene's roots on run-down estates may also be a factor
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The Independent Online

Their music is a eulogy to success, wealth and conspicuous consumption. But the tensions and jealousies that have accompanied the swift rise of the award-winning dance music act So Solid Crew may have led to a double shooting that left two fans seriously injured.

A bungled robbery emerged yesterday as the most likely motive for the attacks at the Astoria in the heart of London's clubland as tensions ran high between rival groups in the vibrant garage music scene.

The double shooting was the latest in a series of violent incidents linked with the group, which comprises more than 20 DJs and producers from south London who flaunt their jewellery and celebrate high living and excess while performing.

It has also thrown further light on the intense rivalries between a new wave of "crews", groups of young musicians who band together, often having grown up on the same deprived estates.

Alienated by the mainstream dance music scene, the crews have emerged from pirate radio stations and developed devoted followings. The new bands emphasise their connections with street culture, inevitably attracting some of its worst excesses, according to music commentators.

Viv Craske, a senior editor at dance music magazine Mixmag, said: "I suppose you had a similar thing with Take That and East 17 fan rivalry, but with harder fans.

"This is about saying to people, 'I am cool'. This is all about one-upmanship and showmanship. But it does come with that ghetto label.

"There is now a crew culture. Everyone used to want to be a guitarist, then a DJ. Now there are lots of crews who say, 'We can get into crime or get into a big garage crew and promote our own music'.

"It's survivalist and that can only come out of nasty urban decayed estates," Mr Craske said, adding that he had witnessed rival "crews" threatening each other after meeting outside a photoshoot.

But the garage scene has also been linked with more violent confrontations. During this week's attack at the popular central London venue, the group were rushed off the stage when two men, aged 22 and 24, were shot in the leg at close range. One of the men could lose a leg and the other was "stable" in hospital yesterday. The event was held to celebrate the 21st birthday of one of the band members.

After speaking to one of the men in hospital yesterday, detectives now believe the shooting started when a robbery went wrong. Detective Superintendent Barry Phillips, who is leading the investigation, said: "The indications are that it was an attempted robbery, brought together with the usual rivalries that exist.

"I wouldn't discount rivalries between gangs and it's an inherent problem that they happen to be armed."

The club's management said the trouble first flared in the early hours on Thursday after a group of gatecrashers was refused entry. Police called to the scene then discovered the injured men inside the club.

Six men are due to stand trial next year for the murder of Marcus Hall, a teenager from Peckham, south-east London, who was stabbed and beaten to death outside a Luton nightclub after a So Solid show.

One of the crew's members Neutrino, 19, was shot in the leg outside a nightclub earlier this year and another member, Darren Weir, was fined £1,500 for breaking the jaw of a 15-year-old girl who spurned his sexual advances.

Patrick Murphy, the director of the Centre for Research into Sport and Society, said some of the violence appeared to follow a similar trend to that of football hooligans "who attached themselves to an aggressive form of masculinity".

Police appealed to anyone who was in the club at the time of the shooting to call Crime-stoppers on 0800 555111.