All words: Robb Scott
All photos: Jeff Martin
Wrapping up his circuit of appearances organized by Steez Promo and All Good, the last stop found Santa Cruz native Lorin Ashton in DC for Bass Center IV. I have my own favorites when it comes to DJs, but it’s never about whose better than whom — there can be good music, but a dead crowd as seen at this year’s HARD Summer Tour (and vice versa). Luckily, Lorin, bka Bassnectar, is not only an amazing DJ, but people actually turn out in hordes to see him. The DC Armory was packed with bassheads from not only DC, but Baltimore, Philly, NYC, and surrounding areas.
It’s always a joy seeing rave worthy DJs live, more so for the crowds than the music itself… or maybe vice-versa… let’s just say they both rival one another. It’s something about the total lack of self-awareness people have when the lights go down and the music takes hold. The smoke, the haze, the strobes, the lasers, the stench of drugs and sweat… it gives me new life — I know I’m not alone in this, so save the shade for the summer.
His openers included DJ Laura, duo Big Gigantic, and Z*Trip — all of whom brought a different flavor of dubstep to the party. First up, DJ Laura served the typical mix of familiar tracks (i.e. Sleigh Bells, Lil’ Wayne, Biz Markie, etc) mixed and remixed to an elementary arrangement of beats. It was enough to keep people’s attention as the armory slowly filled up, but not enough to leave any lasting impressions.
Big Gigantic brought an element of live instrumentation as one of the two played drums as the other took to the sax and switchboard. A pause for not only the creative, but the innovative approach these guys took — not to mention their set was pretty dope.
Once Z*Trip came on, had Bassnectar not been headlining, one would have assumed the former was the show. He came heavy with the visual effects, an intense abuse of bass, and an almost cheeky nod to DC with more than a couple anthemic selections. What struck me about all three openers is their heavy use of hip-hop samples, from old school Dr Dre to newer material like Watch The Throne.
Cue the marching band, toss in a few revelers on stilts, and a dozen or so excited fans, and the parade heralding the start of Bassnectar’s set was underway. Whether or not this was a planned stunt by Lorin or just a well organized and executed spectacle by fans, it was the most original set opening I’d ever seen. Once he actually took the stage, he initiated us all in a sort of “jacking in” process a-la The Matrix; complete with the whole “…there’s no turning back from this” Morpheus spiel. What happened next was a relentless eargasm of some of his better material… not letting up once for the three hours of his set.
Talking with other fans, I came to discover the true devotion of Lorin’s fan base — many boasted having seen him 5+ times, often traveling (as noted before) a great distance. This being my first time, I can now fully understand the hype. He is more than just a DJ; with all of the technical work that is included, this being lighting and effects, he is now more a performance artist in my mind. The guy is for sure one to catch if you’re into dubstep, or into raves in general; he most definitely puts on an excellent show and the people you’ll meet will also make it worth your while.