Decibel Festival 2012: Dropping Gems with DJAO, Natasha Kmeto, Devon Who, & Balam Acab

all photos by Victoria Holt

Dropping Gems showcase did exactly what its name suggests: gem after gem of songs were dropped by all four of the artists of the night, from remixes of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” during Natasha Kmeto‘s set to glistening images of rippling water behind the inescapable rattling bass of Balam Acab‘s. If you don’t know what Dropping Gems is yet, let me fill you in because they throw some of the best parties. They’re a DIY collective here in the PNW that serves as a record label and a space for music to happen. Dropping Gems puts on events like their free day show on Sundays at Captain Blacks, and they generally promote amazing music such as two on the bill for their showcase, Natasha Kmeto and DJAODevonwho, another PNW favorite, also threw down, moving people from their normal dancing positions during Kmeto’s setup onto the tables.

I entered Barboza during DJAO‘s set. I knew little to nothing about him before arriving. He was totally chilled out, remixing and wrapping his vocals around the people present. The club was fairly full even at that point, but one was dancing — most everyone was paying attention.




Natasha Kmeto is one of the happiest performers I’ve seen in a long time. On stage, she is all smiles and dancing, never overdoing it, just glowing with her particular brand of soulful, warm excitement. And when the audience started dancing her smile grew even bigger. Her beats got people ready for Devonwho, who had people jumping up and dancing on the tables. Caught that? All in the night’s play. My favorite track from Kmeto’s set: her remix of “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” was totally glorious, slowed down and shining, while Natatsha herself danced around.

Natasha Kmeto:

Natasha Kmeto

Natasha Kmeto

Natasha Kmeto




I honestly came to the Dropping Gems showcase specifically to see Balam Acab. I remember the first song I heard by him, “See Birds (moon),” off his See Birds EP. The song resonated with me on an experimental frequency. I had never heard anything like it before. Although a friend pointed out that he played his Wander/Wonder album almost exactly as you hear it, seeing him live was a totally different experience. You just don’t have bass like this in your house. I was sitting down through most of his set and the table under me was rattling. Visuals ranged from plants erupting in colored lights to fall leaves sparkling and golden and rippling. Kaleidoscopic effects turned color droplets in water into ever more beautiful and light jellyfish floating in a sea of sound. Behind the rattling bass came the delicate music: Alec pulled you inside the wall of sounds. Oxymoronic? Yes. Worth seeing: definitely. Cheers to Dropping Gems for this amazing show.

Balam Acab:

Balam Acab

Balam Acab

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