Bassnectar * North Coast Music Festival 9/4/11

Bassnectar live at North Coast Music Festival, September 4, 2011

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Review: North Coast Music Festival 2011, Sunday: Bassnectar

Bassnectar, a.k.a. Lorin Ashton, took the North Coast stage just after 8:30pm Sunday night, capping off a wild weekend with a set of tunes that showcased his demented and popular take on electronic music. The San Diego-based DJ mixed hip hop, pop, and indie rock samples with dubstep and breakbeats. As indicated by his name, he also brought with him a love of bass: earth-shaking, sternum-rattling bass.

The DJ is a master of tempo, and within the course of a single song, samples and beats will go from double to triple-time, to half-time, then get crushed under the weight of shock waves of wobble bass. The extended bass lines were manipulated by Bassnectar to amplify and tease out disorienting pitch changes within the walls of sound. An early sample that struck a chord with the crowd was “Closer to God” by Nine Inch Nails. While the DJ did bust out incredibly fast moments, all the better for people to thrash around to, the majority of his tunes operated at a relatively slow pace, allowing for much enthusiastic head-nodding and -banging. Certain breaks and drops felt almost punishing, challenging the audience to wrap their minds around all the glitch and throbbingly low notes.

The visuals on display were easily the most intricate and memorable of the weekend, as flashing lights of every imaginable color silhouetted Bassnectar’s frame against the screen. The DJ, who sports long flowing hair down to his waist, conjured his frenetic soundscapes from a pair of laptops, a turn table and several synths.  A veteran of Burning Man, he took a moment between songs to encourage the crowd to howl at the moon, and frequently praised the energetic freak-flag-waving crowd. Festival goers sported strange accessories all weekend, and they all showed up Sunday night. Spotted throughout the throng were an octopus, a giraffe, a dolphin and a sex doll, all attached to sticks, not to mention cut outs of Optimus Prime and Mega Man. Massive beat drops spurred volleys of glow sticks and spurts from bubble makers.

The next recognizable snippet sewn into Bassnectar’s songbook was “Diserlou,” the frantic surf song popularized by the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. Next came “Where is my Mind” by the Pixies. Kim Deal’s ghostly vocals sounded especially chilling and otherworldly against all the disparate sounds being thrown together. The night air was chilly, and the festival’s tagline of “Summer’s Last Stand” seemed to hold true, as the seasons apparently changed from summer on Friday to fall by Sunday. “You look so beautiful out there,” Bassnectar yelled as the night, and the festival, came to a close.