On Saturday, November 10th I travelled to the Sound Academy to enter the legendary world of Lorin Ashton, the brainchild behind Bassnectar, for his fall tour. After seeing him deliver one of the most memorable performances at Toronto’s own Veld Music Festival in August, the anticipation of this event was reaching an almost unhealthy level. I was obviously expecting some filthy, deep, heavy bass but Ashton took his sound to uncharted levels and blew me away. One of my friends summed up the entire night perfectly with a quote, “I lost my wallet, my keys, and got laid off from work, yet this was still one of the best nights of my life.” This show had everything from confetti, balloons, mosh-pits, countless crowd-surfers and even multiple giant inflatable ducks. Combine those with mesmerizing visual displays on screen behind the stage and an absolute masterful arrangement of music and it is no wonder my friend, myself, and surely thousands of others had a night to remember.
Bassnectar was set to hit the stage at 11:45pm, so of course I arrived around 11:25pm which is later than I would have liked but, unfortunately, some of my friends suck at being on time. As I stepped out of the cab and took my first glance at the doors my jaw hit the floor. The bass heads were out in full force as Bassnectar tanks, flags, hats and custom tees were spotted everywhere in sight. Although it looked like a fantastic crowd, the main problem was that there were hundreds of those bass heads still waiting to get inside. The line-up was long and very unorganized, the rain had started coming down a little harder and Bassnectar was performing in 20 minutes; of course the panic started to kick in.
I’m not proud of my actions but I had I had to act quickly and unfortunately the only plan I could think of was to tip the bouncer. I walked up as far as I could and offered the bouncer a significant chunk of cash and to my disliking he declined. Although that was not what I wanted to hear, fortunately this friendly couple, both of whom who were wearing matching Bassnectar tees, overheard my conversation and called me over. They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, asking me to join and wait with them. Of course I accepted and was overly thankful for their kindness but this action of good heartedness really foreshadowed what was to come in a short period of time.
The disorganization, slowness, and confusion continued even at the front of the line, as we were constantly receiving different instructions from different people. Many people around me were upset when the bouncers took everyone’s glow sticks at the door without warning before the event (I’m assuming at the producers request). Once I finally got inside around 11:40, the coat check line was in even more disarray than the line-up outside. With five minutes before Bassnectar was to hit the stage, I made a quick executive decision to bail on coat check and hide my jacket under a table towards the back of the venue disregarding the risk of losing it. I caught the final minutes of opening act Gramatik (Gladkill performed prior) and no disrespect to him but all I felt and heard was an immense build up and excitement for the headliner.
The crowed erupted when Bassnectar, the long-haired California native, took the stage, grabbed the mic and said hello to the fans. Speakers that were deactivated for the opening acts, were fully engaged to provide that extra firepower which Bassnectar’s fans have come to crave. His very first bass drop rattled rib cages and vibrated skulls sending his fans into a two-plus hour frenzy; you could literally feel the music inside of you. By midnight the Sound Academy was jam-packed full of sweaty, grimy bass heads raging with every ounce of energy they had; exactly how a Bassnectar show should be. As great as Ashton was, the crowd really made this night special. Everybody was giving each other high fives, holding and singing to one another and dancing together. Bassnectar has a cult following which is very hard to find with other artists. Every person in the crowd knew all of his songs and didn’t stop raging until his very last encore.
He played a great mixture of his old and new tracks with a variety of remixes ranging in genres of dubstep to hip-hop to rock to punk. Many of the songs had coordinating visualizations on the screen such as Timestretch, Butterfly and Open Your Eyes which had a tiled image of eyes staring at the crowd blinking in slow motion. What, Ping-Pong and Ugly all off the “Vava Voom” album melted faces with tremendous body swarming, suffocating bass and had infatuating light shows. The light shows were so incredible I’m actually happy that glow sticks were banned from entering the venue. Bassnectar always drops a little hip-hop during his shows this time sampling The Next Episode by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, a mash-up of Snoop Dogg’s (now known as Snoop Lion) Drop it Like it’s Hot mixed with Led Zeppelin’s classic D’yer Mak’er and of course the crowd went crazy for Vava Voom featuring Lupe Fiasco his remix of Zion I’s Human off his “Freestyle EP”. But one of the best moments of the night was when he played his unofficial track One Hundred which samples Hip-Hop by Dead Prez.
The crowd seemed to go crazy for every song that was played and that is what made the night so special, but there were three songs in particular that really stood out. His Pennywise Tribute had everyone yelling out the anthem, Bassnectar’s classic Bass Head had everybody moving every limb in their body, but the one moment that gave me goose bumps was when Ellie Goudling’s remix of Lights was played during the his encore. Lorin grabbed the mic and shouted, “You know the words” and we did. The music was silent and thousands of fans belted out the words to his satisfaction. It was truly an amazing moment. One of the best sets I have ever witnessed.
Other songs played during his set:
Bassnectar – Freestyle (feat. Angel Haze)
Bassnectar & DC Breaks – Breathless (feat. Mimi Page)
Bassnectar – Infinite
Bassnectar – Here We Go
Major Lazer – Jah No Partial (feat. Flux Pavilion)
Jesse Maida – EDM TOR