Decibel Festival 2012: The dB DNB Showcase

all photos by Brittany Brassell

Drum and bass is nothing new to the Baltic Room. After all, they’ve held the nation’s longest running weekly DNB night every Tuesday for the last 15 years. That being said, the crowd didn’t look drastically different than any other DNB night. After all, west coast jungle has a pretty specific following, and those that find themselves in it don’t leave unwillingly. But for Decibel Festival, a special edition of Drum and Bass Tuesdays pulled out all the stops. Spearheaded by DJ sets from Sinistarr, Bachelors of Science, and Homemade Weapons, the night stayed young and the bass stayed very, very loud until the room was forcefully cleared at 2am.

If you’ve never really experienced drum and bass, or just never quite got into it, you need to grant it a second glance. DNB culture is just so unique within the overarching blender of electronic music. On any given Tuesday, you can come to the Baltic Room and find 80 or so people all dancing to the beat of their own drum. Some choose to modify hip hop dancing – others craft their own hybrid of swing, Charleston, and rave. But whatever individuals may bring to the club, it all comes out on the dance floor. Waves upon waves of ground shaking beats pour from the speakers and the crowd is just left to offer their dances to one another. It’s not a crazy rave or a drug-infused trip with a murderous soundtrack. Rather, it’s a tight knit community of individualism all built around a common love for kickass tunes.

The same goes for the DJs. There is no break between sets by Homemade Weapons and Bachelors of Science. There is no calm in the storm. Rather, the volume drops for only a moment so that Homemade Weapons can introduce the next master of the dance floor. On his records, Bachelors of Science seems to prefer mixing a softer side into his endless hi hats, snares, and kicks using jazz textures. But here, he meets the energy that Homemade Weapons has been building head on, and goes bigger, faster, and harder. He does so not to one up the prior act, but to build on a foundation. Drum and bass, by its definition, is built around the boundaries and limitations of the genre. But as we learn from science, with enough energy and enough momentum, there is little you can’t accomplish – especially with a stack of records ready at hand.

By the time Sinistarr hits the floor, the energy is through the roof. Mixing in deep jungle and different electronic styles, he keeps the crowd on their toes. The game of anticipation is equally fun on both sides. The crowd is losing it. Three hours of throbbing beats later, and the night is only getting better. But with every small energy change and every shift in crowd position as people filter in and out with drinks, Sinistarr adjusts, refocuses, and progresses in a new direction. It’s truly incredible how many surprises good DJs can generate, even when playing someone else’s record. Needless to say, Sinistarr proved his worth tonight, finishing off the evening with no one wanting to leave.

The dB DNB Showcase was a fantastic night of drum and bass glory! Hopefully, those present have since gone home, gotten some rest, and hopefully allowed their ears to stop ringing before attempting to continue with their long weekend of festivities.

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  1. Lydia Grimes
    Posted September 28, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Art installation by Sam Trout –, just say’in.

  2. cole
    Posted October 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think I could disagree more with your review. I arrived shortly before Sinistarr went on and was enjoying BoS last few tracks as Sinistarr worked out his tech issues. Suddenly, the sound quality completely changed. Gone was the nice balance between hi and low, and all that was left was screeching and clipping high-end. Sinistarr started poorly, opting for some high-end screechy scratching to test out the now working system. Sinistarr began with some ultra cheesy jump-up, which is fine by me if it is mixed well. This was not mixed well. At all. Then he devolved into some absolutely terrible clashily-mixed moombaton and left it there for far too long. I’m not anti ANY genre if it’s good, but this was AWFUL. I could hardly believe that this guy was booked for the night. To top it off, he was the headliner. What? Perhaps being a long-time and rabid drum and bass fan has made me hyper-critical, you say? Nope. This was actually my second time seeing Sinistarr, and while his track selection the first time I saw him was much better, his mixing was about the same or worse (trainwreck city here we come). I reluctantly gave him a second chance at Decibel due to some friends suggesting that he actually doesn’t totally suck, and he absolutely failed to deliver. I was already disappointed that there was only one drum and bass night for the entire week, and that I’d be missing most of it due to a late flight into Seattle. Sinistarr only added to that disappointment, leaving me extremely dissatisfied. I am the type of guy who will say dnb over all else, but when it’s THAT bad, there’s no use in fighting it… go with the techno I guess.

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