Bassgasm 3 at First Avenue, 2/18/11
Photo by Denis Jeong Plaster
The days of dancing until dawn in filthy warehouses may be long gone with the 90s, but it seems as though DJ ESP Woody McBride won't ever stop throwing parties where the main goal is to revive the good vibrations and soulful hedonism of 1995. He doesn't always succeed, but last Friday, Bassgasm 3 might be as close as he's ever come to turning First Ave into a working time machine. At Bassgasm, McBride asks you to check reality at his door along with your coat, and not pick it up until the very end of the night.
The event's name suggested there would be a massive amount of low end on display but the actual volume bordered on absurd. At previous Bassgasm events, there were stacks of speakers bookending the mainroom DJ onstage, but for the third installment, the DJ was moved out to the center of the dance floor, allowing the entirety of the stage to be taken up with a gigantic sound rig. Anything left on a solid surface vibrated violently from the bass, and there were more than a few drinks and cell phones that met their doom on the First Avenue floor after being rattled off tables and bars.
Crammed with speakers, performers, and partygoers, the Mainroom, 7th St. Entry, and Record Room were all in use with extra stages erected on the Mezzanine and in a dark corner by the coat check. Considering the makeshift nature of the extra stages (and the sheer size of the sound systems attached), the music was separated remarkably well, and breaking the club in to micro-venues felt less a matter of shoehorning in as much as possible and more of an attempt to provide a unique experience on every level of the club.
Large sculptures formed from cloth and wires were installed in the main areas, a welcome supplement to the lights and lasers that made this Bassgasm a more well-lit occasion than your normal club event. Though the Entry and Record Room were decidedly dark, the Mainroom and Mezzanine hid nothing with shadows, every DJ and dancer on full display. Without the naughty "cuddle puddles" and half-mile backrub trains that ran rampant during rave days of yore, everyone was left to focus on outfits that ranged from the stylish to the outrageous, each one capped off with a smile that conveyed a real desire to be a positive part of the event. The huge 8-hour extravaganza had precious few scowls or fists raised in anything other than exhilarated release.
Reid Speed / Photo by Denis Jeong Plaster
And there were plenty of reasons for it. The third Bassgasm hit a musical sweet spot, the programming and scheduling of every stage synchronized for maximum impact. As the venue began to fill up, massive blasts of hyper-kinetic drum n' bass from the Twin Cities duo Easyrider and Greensky pummeled the Mainroom, while bTsunami and 3iD from Iowa locked down the Entry with a hypnotic mix. Reid Speed followed up in the Mainroom with a set heavy on dubstep, crushing sub-bass rattling everything in the club and prompting Speed (a perennial rave favorite) to call Bassgasm "easily the loudest show I've ever played."
Jen Lasher / Photo by Denis Jeong Plaster
Rounding out the Entry, mustached New Yorker Crazy Larry brought a heady blend of house and techno while headliner Jen Lasher went back to her roots with a wild set built around on Baltimore Club beats. The Mezzanine level showcased local heroes, with an excellent stretch of DJs that included Jeff Hunter, the HotDish boys, and Matt Veloce. During peak time, UK Breaks legend Krafty Kuts played remixes of Big Boi, Dead Prez, and Linkin Park (???) to a packed Mainroom while the Record Room hosted a wonderfully versatile set from First Avenue resident SovietPanda featuring mid-tempo selections providing a much-needed respite from the maximalist insanity.
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen
At the end of the night, the First Ave. staff saw the cleanup effort ahead of them as scores of satiated ravers flooded out of the club; the younger crowd eager for afterparties and seasoned vets eager for bed. McBride milled around the club as he had all night--alone, with a satisfied smile, surveying the aftermath. It may only be a matter of time before Bassgasm 4, but it's going to be a superhuman undertaking to top this one.
Personal bias: An electronic music lover that had a ball at Bassgasm 1, but was a little let down by the second installment.
The crowd: Huge, but in a good mood, and ready to dance. Nice split between the younger and older audience.
Overheard in the crowd: "Y'know, I'd much rather hear the original 'Shutterbug' than a 'Shutterbug' remix."
Random notebook dump: It's so crowded it's impossible to keep dancers off the stairs, normally a huge First Ave no-no. A raver in a Pikachu hat seems to be guided past them entirely by The Force.
Setlist: With the sheer volume of music played, it would be damn near impossible to compile an exhaustive setlist, but electronic dance music of every stripe was represented to the fullest.
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