Decibel Festival 2009: Friday night

by Philip LaRose

My Friday night at Decibel Festival turned out to be mostly about the Dirty Dancing International Showcase at Neumos. I did go across the street to Sole Repair a couple times to check out the Latenight Renegades/Fubar Showcase as well. The two clubs appear to be hosting similar styles -- heavy house and drum ‘n bass techno -- and I liked what I was hearing at Sole Repair, but for whatever reason felt like spending more time at Neumos this evening (whereas on Thursday I was mostly at Sole Repair).

I arrived at Neumos during Rob Hood’s high-energy minimal techno set. At 11 there was a smooth handoff to Frank Bretschneider, who brought things down with a moodier ambient/trance sound, and gradually brought the dance beats back in. I liked what I heard of both sets, but for me things really kicked in at midnight, when the Wighnomy Brothers took the stage. Although dancing down on the floor of Neumos would’ve been fun too, being up in the balcony was the perfect place to watch the Brothers work, and they were a joy to watch. They hammed it up for the audience, exaggerating their moves as they mixed the music, holding up records and flexing their muscles to show how strong their selection was, and generally having a good time. But beyond the hamminess, I enjoyed being to be able to see as well as hear how they built their music: bringing in, intercutting, and dropping out a variety of samples -- ranging from musical beats, bass, and melody lines to spoken and sung vocals and other sounds -- played on two record turntables, a CD turntable, and a digital sampler. It’s fascinating that a musical style so dependent on technological tricks and prerecorded material can produce such a unique and vital live performance that would defy adequate reproduction in a recording of its own.

After that fantastic set, I spent a little time at two of the afterhour parties, the Innerflight Music presents Red-Eye Afterhours at the Electric Tea Garden, and the dB in duB Afterhours: duB Mutants at the Little Red Studio. Nerd Revolt were already playing when I arrived at the Red-Eye afterhours, so I didn’t catch all of it but enjoyed what I heard. Unfortunately I missed KJ Sawka at the duB Mutants afterhours, but Electrosect was making ambient dub in the front lounge when I got there, and that was a good way to chill out and end the long evening.

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