JOURNEY INTO BASS
Electronic dance music (EDM) is arguably the most popular genre of music right now in America. The problem with that title, EDM, is that using it is a lot like describing any sort of sandwich as an Edible Meat Pile. There are all sorts of different sandwiches, and not all of them should be lumped together.
Lorin Ashton, the brains and audible brawn who produces music under the moniker Bassnectar, does not produce a definable sandwich. He creates a buffet of sound that, aside from being heard, is felt. He involves the listener in his process “” the journey through sound is a glimpse inside his mind.
“The shock value for what is new is not a good replacement for what is best,” Ashton said. EDM is certainly new, at least in terms of modern music and glittering popularity, but it’s not necessarily what is best.
A Bassnectar show is unlike anything related to what mainstream EDM is selling.
Bassnectar, for that matter, is not EDM. It’s a musical experience.
“I approach sets like I did when I was doing Full Moon parties in the 90s “¦ same as selecting music for sets, so not finding the newest, most press-worthy stuff, but the most emotionally impactful, and what I can weave together into a journey for people,” he said.
To prepare for the current tour, Ashton said that he was “running into it like a headless chicken in panic mode” while simultaneously trying to do the jobs of multiple people. Because there is so much that goes into a full-scale tour “” semitrucks full of production equipment, sound checks at each venue “” it requires a full team of dedicated individuals to work together. When all goes as planned, though, the reward is worth the risk.
On his current tour, Ashton is delivering music from his latest album, Noise vs. Beauty, as well as tracks he selects or are requested through his website from any one of his 11 previous albums that fit in the journey.
Joining Bassnectar on this tour are Kill Paris and Son of Kick, two rising producer/ DJs who have organically grown their following by staying true to their respective sounds. Corey Baker is the brains behind Kill Paris, and fits perfectly in the role he plays as direct support for Bassnectar.
Blending modern house and bass music with a disco feel, Baker primes the crowd with mellow beats complimented with grinding bass lines. It seems like a conflicting combination, but the way Baker seamlessly fuses the spectrum of sounds and genres works well in his time slot.
“Anytime I play direct support for artists I already know that the people that are there are there to see the headliner,” Baker said over the phone while taking a walk through Connecticut. “Bassnectar fans, though, are pretty open and genuine.”
If the ’70s and ’80s had its fair share of “Deadheads” “” touring fans of the Grateful Dead “” then Bassnectar has no shortage of “Bassheads.” Hell, Ashton wrote a song called “Basshead” that still gets regular spins at shows though it was released in 2010. In terms of the way music is created and consumed these days, at least in the electronic music community, 2010 might as well be considered ancient.
Baker, on the other hand, curates his set for the tour prior to starting on the road, which for him was just within the past two weeks.
“I kind of start with a general idea of what I am doing, but it changes as the tour progresses. I always play a lot of originals, and the way I mix into those and how it’s put together is set in stone,” he said.
One of the key components of this tour that both Ashton and Baker acknowledged is the sound system.
“I don’t know how people do it without earplugs because even with earplugs I need a break,” Baker said.
According to the tour manager, Bassnectar is currently touring with a Meyer LEO/ LYON rig with 1100LFC subs. The subwoofers are designed to handle the sub-bass “” the bass that you feel “” while complimenting the rest of the audio production.
Ashton has long been in support of earplugs, and safety for that matter, at Bassnectar shows.
“I personally enjoy music at about one-fifth the volume that most concerts are so you can get that feeling where you are swimming in an ocean of it. I want the volume to reach that level, so you almost need earplugs for that level of sound,” Ashton said.
To support this idea, and his thoughts on safety being top priority, Ashton and the Bassnectar team have always provided earplugs to attendees free of charge.
“(That ringing) is you losing frequencies in your ears that don’t come back. His sound system is just almost to the point of overkill, but that’s how you are supposed to experience it,” Baker added.
It’s all part of the experience, though, as this is what sets Bassnectar apart from the rest of the touring DJ headliners. That, coupled with the visuals on the LED panels, the actual music and the environment of thousands of fans coming together to experience something life changing, is what will propel Ashton and his touring crew into the pantheon of music history. !
Bassnectar w/ Kill Paris and Son of Kick hit Greensboro Coliseum on Oct. 18. Tickets are available at the box office and at www.bassnectar.net.
This is a general admission show that starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45.47 through Ticketmaster.