My head is still throbbing from Bassnectar's performance at UCSD's RIMAC Arena last Saturday. For me, this isn't normally an enjoyable sensation. I'm not the biggest dubstep fan—in fact, a lot of electronic bass music irritates the hell out of me. But, after experiencing the physical embodiment of the throb, I am now one with the bass head.
Openers Amp Live, Big Gigantic and Z-Trip summoned all the dance-floor zombies in the room to a level just below the boiling point. Z-Trip, who won a DJ Times contest in 2009 that got him the title “America's Best DJ,” mixed old-school hip-hop and top-40 jams over heavy dub and wobble bass. It sounds typical, but the man has style. At the close of his set, he blasted off a dubstep remix of Dr. Dre's “Next Episode,” during which I could have sworn I saw him toss a large Ziploc baggie of cannabis into the crowd. At least we know Z-Trip practices what he preaches.
By the time Bassnectar (real name: Lorin Ashton) graced the booth at around 10 p.m., the crowd was practically foaming at the mouth for sensory overload. He soon kicked off an intoxicating, two-hour set of what he calls “omni-tempo maximalism”—an amalgamation of dubstep remixes and tracks from his new album, Divergent Spectrum . Among the selections was his ever-popular anthem “Bass Head,” which he blended into “Wildstyle Method”—a track that features words from the childhood bedtime story Tikki Tikki Tembo played over the heaviest bass amplifiable, odd as it seems. In closing, he unveiled a trance remix of Blur's “Song 2” and ended with a slightly altered rendition of Daladubz's “Pink Elephants.” Bliss for the bass heads.
Meanwhile, an LED wall that stretched the entire back wall carried a phantasmagoric array of graphics. Smoke billowed into the night. Confetti fell. It was breathtaking. But if you've seen Bassnectar before, you know the man himself is perhaps the most enchanting element of the show. He looks like a grown-up caricature of that creepy girl from The Ring ; only he's got serious style—at one point, his long black hair draped heavy over his face, he nodded his head and threw his hands in the air, screaming unheard into the droning darkness. As his silhouette bounced against the morphing LED back light, he was creepy enough to intrigue, but not quite enough to scare you away.
All in all, the show was a cosmic head-trip, even for those of us who were sober.