Seeing Bassnectar was a bit of a surprise addition to the list of concerts I’m attending in November (which will be known as my most epic concert month yet), but it was absolutely bass-tastic. Props to my brother, Dave, for finding out that he was playing in Vienna and suggesting I go to this show. At €12, it was a steal for a Saturday night of dancing my face off.
The concert was at Café Leopold, which was a bit disconcerting since it’s in Museumsquartier near the Leopold Museum and is way classier-looking than the gritty Gasometer or Flex, the only places I’d been for concerts thus far (the giant old gas tank and the dive rave-cave near the canal, respectively). We were a little thrown off by the nice interior, which did not seem like it could contain the wall-shaking vibes of electro-bass-dub-whatever (I hate assigning genres to music). It was filled with slightly awkward-looking youth who did not look as though they would soon be breaking it down, Bassnectar style:
Fortunately, a little exploring behind a beige-y, boring-y curtain revealed a sub-basement with more potential, especially when lit up:
While Mathis and I were waiting for the other DJs to finish their set and stealthily making our way towards the front, we ran into a guy wearing an epic neon wolf appliqué shirt who happened to be saying, “fuckin’ eh,” so I had to ask if he was Canadian. Turns out he’s originally from Kamloops, BC, and this was his last concert in Vienna before leaving the next day. He said he’d seen Bassnectar three times already, and they were the best three concerts of his life. Anticipation!
In a perfect world, BASSNECTAR would always be written in all caps, because his awesomeness can only be conveyed by the internet-writing equivalent to a scream (and inadequately, at that). If I was to say it out loud right now, I’d have to yell it — no choice in the matter, really. This is the guy behind all the magic, the wizard behind the curtain (of hair):
Bassnectar is an experience best described as such, on his website:
By combining sound and force with weight, the Bassnectar experience engulfs the senses. It is as physical as it is auditory; the adventure has no rules, no limitations, and no hesitation in fusing the familiar with the strange or the classic with the cutting edge.
Bassnectar is the brainchild of Lorin Ashton, and it exists as an open-sourced musical project that is as diverse as it is heavy, as raw as it is meticulous, and as fierce as it is imaginary. Spanning the spectrum of sonic style, the music covers every genre imaginable and smashes it all into a synthesis of intense, wobbling basslines and hypnotic soundscapes.
I’m usually wary of the pitfalls of attempting to convey a particular experience in words, despite my continual stabs at achieving that exact goal, but this is pretty accurate. And it also happens to be a beautiful set of sentences, all of which I appreciate except perhaps for the heavy-handed alliteration in that final bit. Mathis has another description of this type of music, which is accurate in the onomatopoeic sense. It goes something like, “WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP WHOM-WHOM-WHOM-WHOM-WHOMMPPPPP.” A sample of pure audiogenius here, although the bass cannot be captured in all of its chest-imploding glory by the likes of a mere camera:
I was directly to the filmer’s right during this clip, literally three feet from the DJ table, my knees bruising on the floor speakers, carelessly brandished cigarettes occasionally burning me, and the crowd pressing in behind me. Bliss.
After the concert, our random Canadian friend really wanted a picture with Lorin Ashton and for him to sign his shirt (I know, what could make a neon wolf-shirt more epic but Bassnectar’s autograph?). I obliged by being the photographer, and then Ashton signed something for me as well. EVEN BETTER, he started handing out copies of his two newest albums, Wildstyle and Timestretch, both produced this year.
Timestretch, in particular, is crazy-good. I love that this guy just wants to get his music out there, knowing we support him by attending his shows and expressing his appreciation by signing autographs like a champ and handing out free shit. And he’s making so many people happy by doing what he clearly loves — now that’s a career. Keep doing what you’re doing, Bassnectar.