Richie Hawtin’s CNTRL Tour is a gift from the techno gods

When you see names like Richie Hawtin, Dubfire, Chris Liebing, and Ean Golden on the same bill, you know something special is going to happen. Seattle is no stranger to the astounding live performances that Richie puts on, as we got to see him just this last fall as a part of Decibel Festival. Just last week though, at the April 22nd stop of Richie Hawtin’s CNTRL music & education tour, we got to see a little bit more of what is happening on the other side of the decks.

The CNTRL tour bus parked outside

The CNTRL tour bus parked outside

To kick off the day, we moseyed into the Neptune Theater to see the various vendors touring with the CNTRL crew. It was great to be able to talk to the representatives for Splice, Native Instruments, Subpac, Pioneer, Roland, and others to see what new technology has just been released and what it arriving soon! After some more browsing around we found seats to watch Dubfire’s masterclass.

People filter in as Dubfire sets up for his talk

People filter in as Dubfire sets up for his talk

Instead of a DAW-centric, production based class, Ali talked more about his roots as a producer, and the live setup he uses to DJ. He answered a lot of great questions about the direction that DJing is headed, aas well as more technical aspects of his setup, like syncing the MIDI clocks in Ableton and Traktor so that he can use Ableton’s FX with the mixer’s send/receives.

Ean Golden, Richie Hawtin, Dubfire, and Chris Liebing at the discussion panel

Ean Golden, Richie Hawtin, Dubfire, and Chris Liebing at the discussion panel

After the masterclass came the discussion panel – a part I was really looking forward to. Ean Golden, the founder of DJTechTools (I love my MIDI-fighter!) acted as the moderator for the discussion, asking Richie, Dubfire, and Chris, awesome questions about how they started their DJ careers, their first gigs, and how they stay inspired. We even got the treat of listening to a few minutes of Richie Hawtin’s raw studio recordings of patches that he made while spending a couple months in the studio. One theme stood out overall: be yourself. Chris himself said, “As the very wise Oscar Wilde once said, ‘Be yourself, because everyone else is already taken.'” This idea was the closing thought of the talk and was incredibly inspiring, and I almost wanted to leave right then and work on my own production all night! However, the best was yet to come….

CNTRL Tour Discussion

Chris Liebing emphasizes the importance of individuality

We left to get dinner and came back around 8pm to a much darker, much louder venue… Ean Golden was on the decks as we got in, playing some deep techno on an array of blinking, glowing controllers. It wasn’t very crowded at first, but by the time Chris Liebing plugged in about an hour later, it was buzzing with energy and anticipation for the dark, pounding beats. Dubfire came on next, and played one of my favorite techno sets I’ve ever heard, with amazing live-constructed buildups and falls all night.

Chris Liebing hands the controls over to Dubfire

Chris Liebing hands the controls over to Dubfire

The night closed out with the legend himself, and it was some of the dirtiest minimal basslines and kicks I’ve ever seen live. All in all, the 12 hours I spent at the Neptune that day were invaluable to me – it was fun, inspiring, and educational all at once, and centered on my favorite genre of music at the same time. An extra special thanks goes out to Sean Horton and Decibel for bringing this tour here.

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