by E.P Pirt, Jr.
As a loyal Bassnectar fan over the last six years, I’ve had the pleasure of watching him shoot from EDM stardom to a larger-than-life bass music icon, practically worshipped by his throngs of so-called “basshead” disciples. I’ve seen him perform in five different states – Colorado, Maine, Texas, and New York. Some of those backdrops, such as Red Rocks, Euphoria, Camp Bisco, and Decadence, drew massive crowds. Others, like the 1,700 person capacity State Theatre in Portland, Maine, were of the more intimate variety. Like the variety in settings, his sets have been equally diverse.
Sound and vibe diversity is probably the quality I hold most dear when it comes to who I choose to listen to and go see live, and Lorin Ashton (Bassnectar), in my humble opinion, is one of the purest examples of this practice. I’ve seen sets that were chock full o bangers like Cozza Frenzy, Teleport Massive, Upside Down, and Wildstyle Method, and I’ve seen some that were more melodic and ethereal, soaring through the night with beautiful tracks like Butterfly, Lights, Timestretch, and Nothing Has Been Broken. While some sets have certainly leaned towards one style or the other, the majority of them have contained some semblance of both, and everything in between.
Another artist trait that I highly value is being skilled in both producing AND DJing. This is a combination that is far-too-rarely found these days, but when it is it’s a beautiful thing. Lorin regularly puts out an album every year, and each one is meticulously polished and crisp, with discographies as diverse as his sets. They’re good too. Every album is highly anticipated and critically acclaimed, including the freshly-released Unlimited, which fans are sure to be excited to hear live in a few short days. When it comes to DJing he’s also one of the best. He seamlessly transitions from one track to the next, switching up the tempo and vibe with skill and ease. If you don’t believe me give his BBC, Colorstorm, or Amorphous Music mixtapes a listen. It seems every time I see him there are mash ups, samples, and remixes I’ve never heard before.
The only other artists right off the top of my head that are on a similar level of stardom and who embody these qualities are Diplo and Tipper, though I still prefer the Lorin’s sound by a long shot. There are tons of great DJs out there who can keep a party going late into the night but can’t produce worth a lick, just as there are producers out there who are legends in the studio but look lost behind a pair of CDJs. I won’t name any names, but if you’re an educated fan of the scene then you know who I’m talking about.
On top of all of that talent and most importantly, Lorin has always come across as a good, humble person. In a scene dominated by loud-mouthed egos, who do just as much hyping as playing, he rarely gets on the mic. When he does, it’s normally to get in touch with the crowd and make sure they’re feeling good. Instead of yelling foolish antics, he lets the music do the talking for him. Behind the scenes, he launched the Dollar per Basshead campaign back in 2011, which donates $1 for every ticket sold to charities. Additionally this year, Bass Center will host two donation drives to the Denver Public School Foundation, and to Groundwork Denver. We highly encourage you to read more about it and find out how you can help here.
Despite being considered a rare talent by millions around the globe including myself, Lorin has also accumulated a large number of haters and naysayers. But I suppose this comes with the territory, as no figure of fame is short on them. I will say however, that while many elitist fans may hate on him, I have rarely if ever witnessed any negative words thrown his way from fellow DJs and producers. Real recognizes real as they say, and it seems that the most knowledgable in the industry at least respect Bassnectar even if they don’t like his sound.
Love him or hate him, if you live in Colorado and dabble in dance music, it’s recommended that you at least respect him and what he’s done for the scene here. Without him Denver is likely not called the bass capital, as it so often is. Even local house heads, who can be some of his biggest critics, have Bassnectar to thank for turning many on to electronic music, because plenty of those people have also become fans of house music and contributed to that burgeoning scene here.
Lorin began playing shows in Colorado in the early 2000s, back when few knew who he or what dubstep was. In 2006 he headlined the first ever Sonic Bloom, held at Mishawaka Amphitheatre, right after playing the intimate Fox Theatre in Boulder. He would then go on to headline Sonic Bloom the next three years (for some cool old Bassnectar in Colorado stories, go listen to our interview with Sonic Bloom founder Jamie Janover here). But things didn’t really kick off for him on a grand scale until the first Bass Center was held at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield back in 2010. That was the event that would catapult him to a level of superstardom here in Colorado, with his first Red Rocks appearance following it in 2011. That first Red Rocks show was a sell out, so in 2012 he played two nights. He would continue two night runs in ’13 and ’14, before playing three nights in 2015. Most of those shows sold out, but after butting heads with the venue and the town of Morrison over the new sound restrictions, he opted out of returning there for a sixth straight year. It remains to be seen whether or not he will ever return to the holy grail that is Red Rocks, but not many people are complaining about this year’s change of venue.
In just three short days it will all come full circle, as Bass Center returns to where it all started, this time at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. There have been various editions of Bass Center in other states since, but now it returns to its rightful home. He has put out tons of tracks and albums since that first Bass Center and his fanbase has increased dramatically, but the love and passion for the music remains the same. With a capacity of 23,000 per day, the crowd will be almost 3x that of Red Rocks. It’s a shame things turned out the way they did with Red Rocks, as they seemed so right for each other, but being a part of something new and on such a huge scale is undoubtedly exciting. These will be my thirteenth and fourteenth Bassnectar sets, and I’m just as excited as I was the first time, back at SnowBall in 2011.
To go along with this gargantuan new backdrop is a supporting cast equally as huge. The legendary hip hop group Wu Tang Clan are certainly the biggest eye catchers on the bill, along with an eclectic group of big names from every corner of the electronic and hip hop spectrum. Household UK dubstep name Flux Pavilion will be main support, along with the immensely popular DJ/producer Porter Robinson, the supremely entertaining and multi-talented Flying Lotus, the infectious singer AlunaGeorge, and the skilled lyricist Lupe Fiasco. Rounding out the lineup are Minnesota, G Jones, Dabin, and Thriftworks, all of whom draw large crowds when they headline their own shows here in Colorado.
A full-fledged “mini” music festival, the two-day event will draw fans from across the country and will feature on-site camping (sold out), on-site pirate radio facilities for fans, and curated food trucks. Also sure to be a hit, is the Colorado-appropriate “Cannibass”. And of course no big show or festival is complete without after parties. Cervantes Masterpiece will be hosting Liquid Stranger, Jantsen, Lafa Taylor, and more on Friday, and Thriftworks, Amp Live, & more on Saturday. Over at Gothic Theatre, ill.Gates will be headlining Friday night, with Minnesota going b2b with G Jones on Saturday.
So rest up bassheads, cause this weekend is gonna be a doozy. As always, be sure to drink plenty of water, don’t forget to eat at some point, have fun but be safe, and don’t be a dick, even if that’s where you’re at. As Lorin says, Here We Go.