Last week, Bassnectar ended his NVSB tour with a sold-out show at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Auditorium. During my timeline of falling in love with electronic style music – I have seen an over-excessive amount of live performances. Through having this opportunity, I have found that there are very few live shows where you get the opportunity to completely immerse yourself into the moment and go to a space where time, obligations, responsibilities and identity all disappear and all you are left with is the music; Bassnectar does this for me every time.
Knowing this was the finale of his tour, I was anxious to see what magical musical journey he had in store for all his dedicated fans. I quickly checked Twitter to find his latest tweet stating, “Just counted about 4 hours of tunes I *HAVE* to play tonight - but even with an extended set time, still don't know how to make em' all fit.” As I tried to wrap my mind around that statement, I passed through security and entered into my own personal rocket ship that was about to blast off. The venue was packed: fans travelled from far and wide around the Bay Area to witness the 36-year-old electronic music veteran mastermind a 2-hour phenomenon of spine-shattering bass.
With GRiZ opening the night and igniting the crowd to some serious funk, the room was ready to rage with Lorin correct. And then, the main event - Bassnectar took the stage and the lights went low. One single wub of bass spread throughout the entire stadium and it became immediately apparent to everyone in attendance that they were in for a special night. As I glanced around the entire auditorium my entire body felt a massive amount of pure bliss and unexplainable joy as every single person was literally going absolutely bonkers – I knew I was at the best party of the year. Bassnectar did what he always does: he played something for everyone, and tickled the fancies of every type of fan.
Throughout the night he ripped through his new album, the NVSB remixes, as well as some classics like “Wildstyle Method,” “Upside Down,” “Hologram,” and an epic revamp of “Timestretch” mashed up with perfectly styled vocals over layed with Flashback (from #NVSB). Show goers were also treated to a wide variety of in-your-face eardrum-bursting dubstep tracks. Fans of Trap music got their fair share of 808s with Von Toth’s “Trap for Me,” and not only Bassnectar’s “Don’t Hate The 808,” a single off of his recent album but also the G Jones Remix which was one of my highlights of the night. There were a fair share of Hop-Hop tracks as well, mixed together with a variety different genres so brilliantly it left you puzzled by his sheer talent and genius execution.
Every Bassnectar concert is a completely new animal, each unique in its own way from the next. No two shows are alike, even if songs are repeated, because the extreme attention to detail the artist takes at crafting each and every one of his set lists is stifling. I never understood how much thought and development Bassnectar put into creating each and every minute of his performance until I watched an interview he did in 2007. There he explained,
“When I release a record, what I try and do is to also have an hour to two hours of music that isn’t released so when I’m touring, I can play either full versions of my songs or bits of my songs and mix them with other tracks. These songs are kind of like sacrificial lambs because they are just as amazing as the original, but you’re not going to release them for the public, you’re going to save them for the show. Which is another reason why I don’t like to have my shows recorded live – it kind of violates me as an artist because I don’t want anyone to have this, this isn’t the wish of my artistic dream…My artistic dream is to concoct this spell according to whatever gut instinct I have. When I’m playing live it’s a very amorphous feeling. Sometimes I might play a song and it starts at the beginning and ends. Sometimes it might be one loop of that song recombined – with Ableton live you have infinite possibilities. I can’t say where a song has evolved to because it’s not in any finished state…. Its just always in its raw form, so you can constantly mutate it, kind of like all options are open.”
On top of the pure artistry displayed in his musical performance, not many people have heard or personally experienced what can happen when Bass is harnessed properly. Not only was my entire body a perfect internal chamber of echoing bass, during the balloon drop you could feel the bass vibrating the inflatable object manically because of how overwhelming the sound was I felt like I could barely hold on to it. Bassnectar’s seemingly perfect transitions, mind-blowing visual set-ups and ground shaking sound systems never seem to get old for the simple reason that its not possible - the entire experience is Amorphous, and he’s constantly got a new trick up his sleeve.
After finishing up his Noise vs. Beauty album last spring, he began working on alternate endings and special deluxe versions of each track, morphing the personality of each song with different faces and unexpected attitudes. His goal was to reinvent the concept of the album and recharge it from every angle. New-age fans get familiar songs like “You & Me” or “Noise,” but the old school fans who have been with him since the beginning still leave happy. Die-hard veterans were delighted after hearing songs they’ve always dreamed of experiencing live, like “Immigraniada,” a Gogol Bordello remix that the DJ rarely blesses his crowds with.
Bassnectar has evolved so much since his inception, but the artist continues to bless his fan base with his older songs, which are now a drastically altered style from a completely different era of Bassnectar that has long since passed. The simple fact is that no one leaves unhappy from a Bassnectar concert, because every aspect has been touched on, every genre has been graced upon, and every individual piece of each set list has been carefully picked and placed in its proper place for maximum mind-bending pleasure. His album promised us noise vs. beauty quite literally, and Bassnectar did an incredible job keeping that balance on this tour. If I haven’t said it enough already, this is a performance that will change your life. If he is in your area, expand your mind and see him live, he will take you to another dimension, and makes you appreciate the artists who take the time to challenge your mind and set the stage for new types of sound experiences. Happy listening my friends!