by Kyle Miller |
Infrasound Music Festival has proven itself, yet again, to be the holy ground of bass music. With a new location being pounded on by four straight days of rain, “Infraswamp” (as it quickly came to be known as this year) became a goopy, foggy, sludge fest, which- in retrospect- perfectly accompanied the deep, dark, and dangerous musical vibrations. With three stages, each equipped with its own Funktion One sound system, the 2016 festival fell nothing short of the grit, grime, and weirdness fans were eagerly expecting.
Security was tight as two lines of cars quickly grew miles long; festival goers were eagerly waiting to reach the entry point. That burst of happiness we all get when first reaching the back of this- or any festival’s- line soon faded as it took some cars up to eight hours to get in.
The wait was worth it, though. Infrasound headquarters pushed back the main stage time slots to accompany those getting in late. Exmag was the first on many’s lists and were just starting their set as the masses entered the grounds. After half setting up camp, I ran over to The Ridge to join the bountiful audience in having our future-soul needs met.
To no surprise the Exmag boys were laying it down real smooth, kicking things off proper alongside special guest COFRESi on the drum kit. Live percussion was a tasteful addition to the crisp, quality sounds exuding from the Funktion Ones. The view from the main stage only added to the particularly welcoming experience, looking out over a valley of mountains, the sun setting behind these massive landscapes.
Throughout the rest of Thursday, the Treehouse was invaded by the Coast to Coast Tour featuring Shlump, Craz, YOOKiE, and Tsuruda. To say the least, the Treehouse was pummeled by bass as the rainfall began and mud pits formed.
It was not until sunset, though, that the Treehouse truly came to life. Words simply can not do justice to the incredible visual mapping done by Zebbler Studios. What was merely a white outline of a tree-house during the day took an indulgently psychedelic transformation at night. Additional parts were added to the Treehouse each day, and thus, the projections grew larger and even more intricate as the weekend proceeded into the storm.
Manic Focus and PANTyRAiD (the combination of MartyParty and The Glitch Mob‘s Ooah) closed out the main stage Thursday night and proved exactly why each was decisively Infrasound material. Both acts hit the crowd with a vibrant blend of everything from new school funk to gritty bass music; but, despite all the madness having already ensued on just the first day, no one even remotely paled in comparison to Ganja White Night. The Belgian duo not only threw down the best set of the day, but played what was to be declared the best set of the entire festival. Showcasing an array of new beats and just downright filth, Ganja White Night tore Infrasound apart and had people still reminiscing about the insanity throughout the remaining three days. Expectations were already incredibly high for the duo as this writer had never seen them previously, but I ended up having them blow myself- and everyone else- completely out of the water. The “Wobble Masters” truly are at the forefront of their game, an unstoppable force not to be reckoned with.
The rain steadily fell into Friday- day two- at this point transforming the entire festival grounds into a muddy swamp. Still, mother nature’s toll was no match for the get down. Mt. Analogue opened up the Treehouse stage early Friday afternoon, which flowed right into Dubamine and The Widdler down at the Mendi’s Beach stage. It did not matter what time it was for festival goers, just as long as there was music playing, there were people raging. That is the best part about Infrasound: there is such a heavy presence of bass music lovers that the natural energy from the music is present at any given moment.
Back over to the Treehouse to discover Trevor Kelly. I did not know too much about the San Francisco producer at first, but I certainly do now. Kelly’s set was full of non-stop heavy-hitters, digging into heavy trap influences and even showcasing a new collaboration between himself and bass prodigy G Jones. Arguably the best set of Friday, Trevor Kelly kept the crowd hype, leaving countless patrons craving more come the set’s conclusion.
The constant presence of music at Infrasound can be both a gift and a curse at times. Sadly, I had to miss Lafa Taylor in order to re-situate my campsite and prepare for the impending heavy rainfall and rumored hail. Luckily, Funktion One’s provide such clear audio that hearing entire sets from the campsites was not only possible, but boy did it sound phenomenal. I saw Lafa Taylor perform once before on Beats Antique’s Creature Carnival Tour, but as a stand alone artist, he brought his game to the next level. For someone who is not a particularly big fan of the rap or hip hop genres, all I was able to think to myself was that I need to catch Lafa Taylor on his next tour. His free-styling was directly on point as he sunk his lyrics into heavy bass beats, interacting with the crowd, and overall creating (what at least sounded to be) a very intimate, yet incredibly energetic performance.
Despite a particularly male dominated lineup, CloZee showed that gender holds no bars when it comes to making a crowd move. During her performance, Chloé (CloZee) incorporated the use of a MIDI pad into her set creating a full live experience in addition to dropping select new material and heaps of original tunes. Sure to drop some of her biggest hits like “The Path To Heaven” and her remix of Ratatat’s “Loud Pipes”, CloZee created a vibe of pure bliss amongst the crowd. The performance left fans not only gawking, but also reveling in the anticipation of what new material is in store as this producer’s progression proves her dominance.
Now this is when things started to get weird… The mud was now in full force forming ankle-high, quicksand-like, muck puddles. The trails became sludge paths; the stages were reduced to nothing but slippery, muddy slopes; and the rain was still coming down stronger than ever. Still, this did not stop the crowd from growing even larger in anticipation of a looming Space Jesus set. To our surprise, CloZee suddenly announced Yheti was up next. As the crowd stood bewildered, Yheti quickly grabbed the microphone and announced: “Space Jesus is lost in the woods somewhere!”
Ultimately, Yheti just ended up switching time slots with Space Jesus- not a terrible flaw by any means given the unforgiving weather circumstances. Space Jesus showed up, though, about twenty minutes into Yheti’s set, and both commended and rewarded Yheti for holding it down in his absence. The outer space bass music weirdness had everyone getting downright lost in a trance. Yheti premiered countless new tracks, saying something along the lines of, “I just made this in my hotel!” before nearly every drop.
K.L.O., Space Jesus, and Toadface followed Yheti on the Treehouse stage, but after trekking through the mud all day, my legs were shot. I tuned into NOISIA‘s drum and bass madness from the warmth of my campfire, attempted to dry off a little bit, and tossed in the towel, calling day two a wrap.
Saturday started off strong with the second Ganja White Night set keeping things deep and vibey as it was still only early afternoon- or in festival time: morning. Their set played perfectly into the start of ThazDope Records‘ founder, Spankalicious, who threw down his signature psychedelic bounce. “Spank” closed out his set with a song off the latest ThazDope Records’ compilation– a new hard hitting banger from upcoming DJ and producer Smokestax titled “Precious”. The percussion perfectionist also announced he was starting his own art installation called “Faces on the Floor” which we will all just have to wait to learn more of what it is all about.
Later that night, The Russ Liquid Test performed on the main stage. This was a real treat to see Russ piecing together his vision, incorporating a live band feel, and pairing it with his glitchy and psychedelic style of bass music. He even brought Exmag back out to perform “Takin’ It To Max”. There is no doubt of Russ’ progression in this live direction, especially after performing along with the Michal Menert Live Band; and we can only hope for more equally talented musicians to be added to his group in the near future.
Ivy Lab took home the best set for Saturday, though. The stage was barely visible by this time as dense fog rolled through the mountains and filled the air so thickly that you could barely make out your own hand- let alone anything out a reasonable distance. A large crowd formed under the fire dome, which continuously provided warmth in the back of the crowd. Fire performers took turns displaying their talent and trying to break a beacon through the stringent air. Ivy Lab’s sound was reminiscent of G Jones and other west coast bass producers. The heavy, over-saturated bass sounds mixed on top of glitch-induced percussion and double kicks has become a staple of modern day “trap” (I use that term lightly). Ivy Lab threw down a set many are sure to never forget and we can only hope the European trio will make future appearances here in the United States.
EOTO and a special Shpongle DJ set performed by Raja Ram, immediately followed by another of Ram’s projects, 1200 Micrograms, closed down the main stage on night three. Tribal bass was sent pulsating through the festival’s grounds well into sunrise. Alex Grey and his wife, Allyson Grey– also further accompanied by Raja Ram- spent this time live painting on stage, signing autographs, and meeting fans near the merchandise booths.
By the time Infrasound Sunday rolled along, many festival-goers started to head out early. Following an intense downpour which canceled the entire morning lineup, the first bit of sunshine peaked from beneath the clouds. Many took this time to pack their belongings and hit the road before the storm could, and would, return.
Mother nature was not on friendly terms this year, but this factor did not even slow the Infrasound team from adjusting themselves nimbly, keeping music flowing, and making the 2016 festival a total and utter success. Weather is the one infuriating factor that can not be controlled when it comes to events of this magnitude, yet Infrasound will surely remain a priority on many’s lists for next year. There is no doubt the incredible and dedicated team behind the scenes will only plan more accordingly and come back bigger, better, and stronger than ever… ’till then!
Infrasound Festival 2016 Recap | Video by Ray Ermel/Ray Ermel Photography