First Avenue, Minneapolis
Friday, March 21, 2014
Bassgasm is the perfect medicine for a raver with terrible ADHD. Friday night at First Avenue was like looking into those kaleidescopes that have little bits of confetti in them, the ones you can shake, the result being a millennial version of Party Monster. Opportunities to blow out your eardrums abounded. People wore fur coats with LED lights sewn inside. I watched a girl in a latex bodysuit get arrested while I was eavesdropping on a conversation about conspiracies. There was certainly no shortage of entertainment.
Truly the most satisfying element of the event, despite all the eye candy, was the caliber of music brought here from various parts of the globe. Wandering through the different rooms and miniature set-ups throughout the venue, one could travel musically from Moscow to New York to Berlin within a span of ten minutes.
To sum up the night in a succinct manner would be nearly impossible. To keep things manageable, I have assembled a list of ten particularly memorable Bassgasm 10 moments.
The Party People of Bassgasm 10
10. James Patrick Plays live techno with Chuck Love, Chris Cunningham, Jon Davis, Graham O'Brien & John Keston
Live techno with a full band? It sounds too weird to work, but James Patrick and his wonderful ensemble of live musicians had the mainroom dancing madly before a wall of bass. It was exciting and joyful to watch the musicians jamming hard onstage while people draped in glowsticks got down. This innovative act brought life to a musical genre that may feel inaccessible to those who are more attuned to seeing musical instruments being played rather than hands dancing above a mixer.
9. Wall of Bass 2 "The Holographic Granola Pizza Area"
One wall of bass is menacing enough, but the truly terrifying area of First Avenue wound up being the smaller, second wall of bass located to the right of the main stage in the mailroom, where merch tables are typically set up. I ventured to this zone early in the night and was surprised to find it jam packed with sweaty bodies. Upon entering the space before the wall of speakers, I was hit with such forceful bass that I almost threw up.
I pressed my hands up against my ears and tried to wander further in as I felt the sound vibrating through my internal organs and rattling my bones. It felt really awesome and also really sickening. Wall of Bass 2 gets my award for most intense sound system ever assembled in a small space. Kudos to the bartender who was slinging drinks directly in front of that monster all night.
8. The balloon ladies.
There were two women in attendance dressed entirely in balloons -- one in black, and one in white. Not only does this seem like a dangerous fashion decision, as I personally felt inclined to try to pop one or two of them, but it also seems like it might hamper one's ability to dance. These ladies, however, did a fine job of wylin' out in their balloon costumes. They were also wearing coordinated Marilyn Manson-esque face make-up. Can you imagine dancing in a balloon costume with face paint and sweat running into your eyes? Now that's devotion.
7. TWRK in the mailroom "The Funth Dimension"
Up close, TWRK didn't look very happy to be at Bassgasm 10. The crowd didn't seem to care either. TWRK went on towards the end of the night when dancing was at its most bizarre, which made for some spectacular people watching. TWRK's trap anthems didn't translate perfectly over the main Wall of Bass, which was somewhat disappointing. Also disappointing was the lack of actual twerking to be witnessed. I was hoping for some seriously ratchet shit to go down and instead was unimpressed by the relatively tame crowd reactions. Next time, TURN UP, GUYS!
6. The upstairs mainroom lounge "What's Clickin' Good Lickin' Area"
The idea of setting up walls of speakers through a very open club like First Avenue comes with risks. Walking from one side of the second floor to the other, rave pedestrians were forced to cross through a pop-up dance floor. This area was surprisingly successful, though. The most turnt I felt over the course of the whole evening was here, to Shannon Blowtorch spinning Azaelia Banks' "212." It was also very amusing to see Tommy Four Seven standing by a speaker looking like he wasn't quite sure how he had wound up in such a place.
5. Izhevski in the Entry, "A House Made Completely of Air Area"
Izhevski played the sexiest music of any performer by far. His smooth blend of deep house and techno was an extremely soothing refuge from the insanity of the rest of the club. Overheard were people exclaiming how "fucking incredible" his sounds were. Izhevski himself occasionally stepped away from his mixer to groove coolly to the tunes himself. Seeing the man in person brought the vibes of Deep Mix Radio in Moscow to life, and was a total turn on.
4. Lady Faith bringing hard style to the Wall of Bass
Lady Faith is incredible to watch. She jumps up and down to the pounding bass, mouthing the words to songs and holding her hands up above her head in the shape of a heart. I must say that I'm still not entirely sure how to dance to hard style, but I think I'm beginning to figure it out.
Everyone on the dance floor was acting like they were in a mosh pit or at a hardcore show -- thrashing their arms, flinging their bodies at one another, jumping up and down madly. Realizing that I actually like hard style was my biggest revelation of the evening. It felt violent and jagged and full of life and forceful energy. Lady Faith's own songs, such as "Moxie," are incredible blends of American and Persian influences, and brought a wonderfully exotic aura to the club.[page]
3. Tommy Four Seven in the Record Room
Tommy Four Seven brought his bone-crushing techno to a dark and sweaty Record Room, by his own request -- he was initially slated to perform in the mailroom, but opted instead to perform in an environment more suited to the vibe of his music. His beats shocked and awed those brave enough to withstand the onslaught of his set, which struck me as a bit harder and faster than music from his full length, Primate, and other work which he has released. It was a perfect crescendo, somehow both terrifying and extremely satisfying.
2. Bobby Kahn's "So You Think You Kahn Dance"
"What the fuck is going on?" Bobby Kahn screamed into the mic, while bizarrely costumed men and women gyrated wildly upon one another in the center of a dance circle on the mailroom floor. Kahn's dance class was truly the most amazing spectacle of all of Bassgasm 10. He invited guests into the circle with him to battle, slaying each one with his timeless dance moves.
The participants then battled one another, showing off their break dancing moves. A woman dressed in nothing but underwear and duct tape strutted her stuff near a man in a rainbow colored spandex bodysuit doing the worm. The energy in the room was vibrant. I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like it and I pray that it happens again, and soon. Kahn brought everyone together and helped us all get into the groove for the rest of the evening, acting as the ringleader to one of the weirdest circuses ever.
Woody McBride, Bassgasm's founder, is all about fun. He could be seen throughout the night, walking from room to room, making sure that everyone was having a good time. And we were! Dance can be such a liberating means of self-expression and a means of bringing people together. By the end of Bassgasm 10, I was a sweaty mess with my false eyelashes barely clinging on, and I was vaguely deaf yet extremely happy. Many thanks to McBride for bringing all of us together to worship before the wall of bass!
Hope to see you at the next Bassgasm! Peace, Love and Techno.GIMME NOISE'S GREATEST HITS
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