RECAP | DECIBEL FESTIVAL 2013
Published on October 14th, 2013 | by Tom_Bray
Seattle may be the birthplace of grunge, Pearl Jam and Nirvana in the 90’s but the largest city in America’s Pacific Northwest packs more musical flavours than a pack of Costco size skittles. In the field of electronica, a number of promoters have been pushing the envelope in the local scene, most notably DJ, producer and founder of Decibel Festival, Sean Horton. Decibel’s roots date back to 2003 and has become a unique platform for interactive media art, technology based education and ultimately one of America premier electronic music festivals. This year, Decibel celebrates its 10th birthday and not only is this a huge triumph for Horton but also a milestone in American electronic music history.
Last year, the Yetis headed up to the Emerald City with an open mind and appetite for all bass frequencies to digest in 96 hours. We left with our ears ringing with fresh beats, hunger for more and acquired dance moves our mums wouldn’t understand (read more HERE). Even though last year marked Decibel’s largest edition to date with over 26,000 music heads in 50 events, we knew the tenth anniversary party was going to be a ruckus to say the least. We were not far off.
With showcases from of Resident Advisor, XLR8R, Red Bull Music Academy, Mix Mag to Mad Decent, the festival lived up to its expectations with a diverse mix of conference sessions to boat parties and after hours revelries. The fast growing festival again focused on electronic spectrums this year by booking a handful of progressive legends like The Orb, Derrick Carter, Moby and Cajmere to Soundcloud generation boomers like Ryan Hemsworth, Evian Christ, Lapalux and Shigeto.
In no particular order here are our top 3 highlights. (Please note, it deeply dampens our souls having to narrow down our climaxes, as the line up this year was simply bonkers – read more HERE.)
Wednesday September 25th – Hyperdub Records Presents: Kode 9, DJ Spinn, Ikonika, Jimi Jaxon and Zach Walker @ The Crocodile
The Yeti grew from UK bass frequencies and there’s always space in our hearts for that, especially if it’s coming from London based imprint Hyperdub. With our hats off to the US immigration for the sluggish drive-thru at the Canadian/US boarder, we scraped it just in time to catch London bass babe Ikonika’s set. As one of the few female producers to work with dubstep, Ikonika played a dub heavy set that drew much from her 2008 release Contact, Love, Want. Following her was Teklife’s DJ Spinn with a series of bangers that reflected his native Chicago sound of juke and footwork. Selectively dropping grimy remixes of Ludacris and Kanye in between, there were plenty of hands in the air and booty shaking was a regular occurrence.
The best was yet to come as Kode 9 stepped on stage to deliver another hour of low to heavy dub plates. Responsible for sharing Burial’s music to the world, Kode 9’s selection reflected his sonic yet philosophic influences that separate him from the masses. With spastic upbeat reworks of Miguel and TNGHT marrying Spinn’s afore footwork sounds, Kode 9 took us on a musical journey from London to Chicago and left us both nostalgic of the UK sounds yet inspired for what’s to come.
Saturday September 28th – Lorde x Until The Riboon Breaks @ Showbox Market
The sixteen-year-old New Zealand pop sensation’s single ‘Royals’ was hovering at No.3 on the Billboard Charts as Lorde performed to a sold-out show at Showbox Market on Saturday night. The ballroom was roaring when she took the stage that I even had trouble understanding her words over hundreds of screaming fans. Accompanying her was a keyboardist that looked like Slash’s long lost twin and a drummer with more flare than Chad Smith on speed. As an eccentric unit, the trio cohesively delivered Lorde’s sing-along hits with a downtempo vibe that derived from her latest album Pure Heroine.
The great thing about Lorde’s indie driven pop sound is that you get all the guilty pleasures minus the social stigma, even when you’re drunkenly waving your hands amongst the sober fifteen year olds next to you; we can all appreciated good music. We left the gig with a newfound respect for Kiwis that exceeded the All Blacks Haka War dance and an epiphany that the old sixteen year old me sinking a king can under ten seconds wasn’t nearly as cool as what just happened.
Friday September 27th – Nicolas Jaar & Friends: Nicolas Jaar, Mount Kimbie, Phaeleh, Tarik Barri @ Showbox Sodo
Located in Seattle’s industrial area, Showbox Sodo is a massive warehouse turned sweaty dance hub south of the downtown core. Arriving upfront immediately bought back wonky memories of last year’s showcase with DJ Shadow and Bonobo. Having been mesmerized by Machinedrum’s live set minutes before at sister club Showbox Market, we dived late into Mount Kimbie’s performance. They started off in a slow chugging vein but didn’t take long to descend into snapping 808 rhythms and signature emotive vocals. As if to pay tribute to their highly successful recent album Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, the South London duo jammed to slideshow visuals of them touring the world from Shanghai to Paris. However, nothing can top the headliner of the night Nicolas Jaar who smashed out a double encore. Not a single body was willing to call it a night, as he exclaimed ‘I don’t know if I’m allowed to do this but I’m going to.’
It’s hard to deny Nicolas Jarr’s talent and flair whether its top quality singles, mysterious EPs or head turning remixes, the American-Chilean producer has been musically on point this past year and his set greatly reflected that. Transporting a string of sensual grooves and immaculate progressive layers, Nico struck out from the basics by delivering older tracks to ones from the latest EP Space Is Only Noise. Visually backed by Tarik Barri with sun filled visuals of spiralling solar flares and patterned colours, the performance tingled all our senses and was one of Decibel’s best this year!
All in all, Decibel exceeded our expectations again. As we accomplished the second year of this festival, we hope to venture to Seattle again in the following years to entice our eardrums and broaden our musical outlook. You should too!
Yeti Out X