Come Party at Our House: Underground Sounds of AVL @ New Mountain NYE

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times: 2015 was an extreme year. You felt that too, right? Even so, I know you sowed some really potent seeds, and now it’s time to grow that shit. In 2016, I do believe we’ll be seeing a little more clearly, listening a little more closely, and feeling a little more deeply. It’s gonna be one hot cocktail of love and glory. Get ready.

That’s why we’ll be ringing it in at New Mountain (once again!). The main room is otherwise occupied by Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, but if you’re not into having your face melted with the jam kids, the Ridge Room and Sol Bar are prepared to melt your heart. A variety of underground electronic treats awaits you.

Our House (a collective of underground dance music enthusiasts) wants everyone to be on the level and have a really great time without bleeding you dry, which is why just one $8 ticket grants you access to both rooms. You wanna tap that hot bass? See what’s going on in Sol Bar. Fancy jumping into a pulsing, psychic wave via old school house and techno? Ridge Room has got you. Wanna drift between them and feel all the delicious things while marveling at all the pretty people? Go on then.

You better believe seasoned, top-shelf house trio In Plain Sight (Nomad in the Dark, Lucas Ledford, Ezekiel) is gonna bring da noise in the Ridge Room after the ball drops. Were you even at the Music Hall on Halloween, bro? They dominated that show and were essentially the true headliners (sorry, Marley Carroll). Remember my review of them this summer? Yeah, still feeling all those things and way harder. With their immense, heart-quaking house beats and fierce sensitivity to the crowd vibe, if you want to dance, you do not want to miss these guys. They get you really high.

Whatever your intentions for the New Year, come on out to New Mountain so we can dance them to the heavens together. Bring glitter.

Show 9:00p-2:00a

Tickets $8

21+

 

WAVEFORMS: Aligning Minds Recordings Official Launch w/Futexture + BomBassic 12/19 @ Orange Peel

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I love launch parties: the essence of celebrating creative newness, of hope and excitement. A time to honor the culmination of work that’s gone into making something truly inspiring and worthy of jubilation. Add boozin’ and schmoozin’ and boom. Enter the next installment of WAVEFORMS at the Orange Peel.

Asheville’s Mike Folk and Baltimore’s Daniel Merrill (together, Aligning Minds) have been doing well for some time. Dammit, people like ‘em. With their bass-backed, soul-saturated spirit jams turning on kids here in AVL and around the world, it was only a matter of time before they organized their own record label. Structured with the intention of autonomously sharing their passion with not only the listeners who want to receive it, but also facilitating a platform for meaningful exchange with other artists of varying genres, the dawning of Aligning Minds Recordings looks very bright.

As of now, AMR’s first release is the solo work of Merrill, under the name A Path Untold. I’m genuinely enjoying this first LP Secret Subtle Light, which is sort of odd as it’s no secret I don’t typically go for the ambient psych-bass thing, what with this unshakable feeling it gives me of some creature creeping up on me in the dark. But it occurs to me that maybe that’s exactly why it’s worth exploring. While I’m loving how my beaming, housey heart gets set on dancefloor fire with such intensity, it’s good to remember those deep nooks and darkened paths of the psyche that need more prompting to see the light. Or perhaps, which never will.

Aligning Minds proper, Futexture, and BomBassic support. Dancer Kristi Wrolstad and other visual artists help set the scene. I hear there will also be a glorified chaw space by an organization called Harmonia, for when those deep emotional places in us get groped a little too hard. Don’t you just love when that happens?

Before the holidays truly hit us, before the energetic orgasmic of 2016, let’s celebrate the light–and the darkness–of 2015 together. Always together.

Doors 8pm // Show 9pm

Tickets $7 adv // $10 day of show

16+

 

 

Drink it Up: MiMOSA @ New Mountain 12/3

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Hey, bassheads. Gotcha another one. West Coast producer MiMOSA is coming to New Mountain to rock your nuts this Thursday, December 3.

For such a young stunna, he’s made quite a name for himself by not only touring a whole shitload of material but also starting his own label, FALSE iDOL MUZiK, and apparently creating his own genre, called Future Trill. I have noooo idea what that’s supposed to mean, but I like this guy’s gumption.

His latest album Delusion of Grandeur appears ironically titled considering he certainly seems to think of himself pretty grandly (a “MiMOSA in this bitch” vocal sample graces several of his songs), but it hooks me right away, deep bass lines leading into booming hip-hop beats on the title track. I am instinctively bouncing in my porch chair to the lead-footed “Lost,” clearly envisioning myself grinding it down to the venue floor, and “Regenesis” delivers a welcome, driving dance beat. Yeah, gimme dat.

At the same time there are pretty obnoxious hip-hop and dubstep-esque elements at play here, and like most bass artists of today, this thing isn’t entirely unique anymore, but MiMOSA does have his own flavor, and it comes through. You can pour that right down my gullet, boy. I’ll drink it up.

His merch is pretty cool. I’d rock the hell out of that sweatshirt if he gave me one.

From Nashville, ike supports (no clue), but AVL’s own illanthropy starts the night off with his bass thing. I happen to have a funny anecdote about him. I don’t know the guy personally at all, but he played an impromptu late night set at one of my crew’s summer parties, and when we specifically requested chaw tunes (cuz we’re greedy little bears like that), he delivered the most raucous helping of heaviness that we had to lovingly remove him from the tables. Sometimes ya just can’t even at 6am on acid. This ain’t the Full Moon Gathering. Duuuude, I’m sure you’re cool though. You bring that shit this Thursday.

Doors: 9pm // Show: 10pm // 18+

Tickets: $15-17

 

 

Minnesota w/HugLife + BassClef @ New Mountain 11/20

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I remember hearing Minnesota’s name around CounterPoint time last year, when I really didn’t care for bass music at all and just thought it was cool his name is Minnesota. But a lot has changed for me in a year and a half, and now I can speak with a considerably more open mind on the sick pleasures of the hard, floor-grinding genre.

Originally from Minneapolis (hence the nickname), Minnesota (Christian Bauhofer) moved to Santa Cruz at 18 where he began plugging into the rising Left Coast bass scene. He hit it hard in 2011 with his first EP Panda Snatching Tycoon and quickly gained traction for his seamless eclecticism and melodic sensitivity in a world where Skrillex ruled the roost.

Now with something like six albums in four years, Minnesota has proven himself a worthy contender in the ever-expanding EDM universe. Sharing the bills at some of the most popular electronic festivals with the likes of STS9, MiMOSA, Paper Diamond, and with Bassnectar as a bona fide fan, whatever this guy is getting at, he’s getting it.

Now don’t tell me that raw drop doesn’t feel good:

What got me thinking about this show at all though was my girl Julie’s interest in the supporting act, bass/trap/hip-hop producer HugLife. I can’t find a whole lot of information on him, other than he used to be called Slink and has lived everywhere. Solid? I suspect we’ll all have a better idea of him on the dance floor tomorrow. For now, here’s something yummy:

The night opens with local producer BassClef, but I suspect I’m going to be kickin’ it at Sol Bar during that time to see Earthtone Soundsystem, Asheville’s longest running house ensemble, who, in my relatively newfound appreciation for the ol’ four-on-the-floor, I have yet to experience. This baby girl needs to balance out that grimy goodness with some vision-inducing heart bangers. (Though it must be mentioned that I can’t find any sonic evidence of them on the whole of the internet. Someone explain this to me.)

Suffice it to say, ISIS ain’t got shit on the American commitment to a good time. Let’s get weird, AVL.

Doors: 9pm // Show: 10pm

Tickets: $10-15 // 18+

 

 

 

 

BomBassic Drops a New Track, and it is Cotton Candy-Colored Fire

It’s been a few months since BomBassic’s last official release, but their summer was a busy one. They played a string of local shows, went on a southeastern tour, and finished up their new album, all on top of the responsibilities of their regular day jobs, their facilitation roles in the Asheville Beat Tape Collective, and lots of badminton.

“Cotton Candy Sunset” is a collaboration between BomBassic and local guitarist/vocalist Tin Foil Hat (Jared Hooker). It begins slowly, an ethereal vocal massage from Hooker leading us carefully to a precipice. It unfolds from there, Brucey B’s frosty keys building a bridge to the kick, this verified house beat (yesss!) reaching beyond their usual soul bass style with fervor and flair. The track waves and winds, sashays and grinds; I feel myself dancing on a crystal rainbow road in the sky, weaving through those cotton candy clouds, diamonds in my hair and hot angel breath on my neck. No, I’m not on drugs right now!

Not ones to rest on their laurels or get too comfortable in any zone, Cpt. HyperDrive and Brucey B continually evolve, applying their insatiable thirsts for knowledge, movement, and growth to their tunes while still maintaining the undeniable integrity of the BomBassic sound. If you didn’t think BomBassic was pretty fucking great before, check again.

Also, the beautiful cover photo you see here was taken by fine AVL photographer Arlie Huffman, the queenly model of which is none other than the exceptional Aubrey Huntley, a very good baby girl friend of mine and actual girlfriend of Cpt. HyperDrive. Keepin’ it reeeeal local here, folks. Homegrown.

BomBassic is currently in negotiations with a potential new label regarding their upcoming album release, titled Acceleration. 2016 is gonna be a joyride year, y’all.

 

AshevilleFM Fall Fund Drive Was a Hit and So Was RBTS WIN Obviously

While I’m still riding high on the “party with a purpose” vibes The Polish Ambassador rainbow wagon reminded us of during their visit last month, why wouldn’t I be at the damn good party with the damn good purpose that went down at The Mothlight last night?

Local radio station AshevilleFM (103.3) concluded their fall fund drive with a throwdown that served up a lot of AVL love. With a commitment to increasingly sovereign, diverse, community-based radio access, AshevilleFM has been reflecting the sonic pulse of the big, beating heart of this community since 2009 and is poised to keep going strong. Of course, any venture that rejects corporate control needs money to keep rockin’, which is where we put on our big baby girl & boy pants and give a little for the things we give a shit about.

Entry was by donation, which came with a bumper sticker and pin. They’d gotten me already; I love swag. The crowd of primarily young, hip, sexy AVL types filled the room, an air of richness filled my lungs. It’s good to see the Mothlight packed out once in awhile, the tones of togetherness drawing me deeper into the mix.

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I arrived just after the last of the DJs, perfectly timed before RBTS WIN’s set. I hadn’t seen them since my maiden show at Isis just this past July, so clearly, I was mad jazzed. While I milled and grooved around the floor in anticipation I ran into the lovely Ali McGhee: doctor of language, teacher of yoga and fellow music journalist, which is always a thing of beauty. (Girl, let’s hang out!) I made a dash for one last cigarette before the guys took the stage.

Enchanting lead vocalist Brien (Cliff B Worsham), beat-mancer Javi (Bolea) and guitar god Josh (Chassner) took their places under the dim colored lights, the crowd just as happy to see them as they us. It is such a pleasure to witness the three of them do their thing, Worsham with his seraphic voice, Bolea with his fucking metalness, Chassner and his firm grace on the strings. They moved through a solid set of bangers, “Mountain Child,” “So Celebrate,” and “When I Think of You” from their most recent LP Palm Sunday, as well as a handful of older tunes and fresh ones. They assure us that they are nearly finished with a new record to be called Sensitivity Kit, and we can expect it sometime after the new year. Yes. So much yes.

Caught some extra loving feels when the whole crowd sang along to “Death Magic.” Uhhnngghh this song.

Shout out to everyone who came and contributed to the cause. AshevilleFM nearly doubled its monetary goal, so good on you, Asheville. Free the radio! Love AVL!

 

NEW RELEASE: Marley Carroll DJ Mix ‘Summer Turns Fall’

To celebrate the end of a long, gig-intensive summer, Marley Carroll released a new DJ mix yesterday. And aren’t we all so glad he did. Titled Summer Turns Fall, the 48 minute mix is a lesson in transition, from the sun-fueled funk house beats to chilly, weighted scratchwork that reflects these deepening nights.

It begins on the dance floor in my mind, KC and the Sunshine Band’s cover of “I Get Lifted” a damn good groove early on, which has served as a staple in the MC DJ set list all summer. But afterward I am somewhere else altogether.

As the beats swell up, strip down and rise again, Carroll creates a potent tension with his silvery sensitivity to the turntables. And then carefully, gracefully, he releases it, each track a lush new environment for the mind to explore. It’s like walking into another room on mushrooms. The imagination does not soar–it digs down and treks–from the bright, honey morning forest to the mysterious side of some wild island, where shadows speak and beams of full moonlight strike the scales of nightswimming fish like chimes.

Summer Turns Fall carves out an irresistible telling of the shift from poolside to fireside, without and within. Pairs nicely with cloud-watching, driving, or jaunty daydreaming in a doctor’s office.

Listen on SoundCloud here

Download from Bandcamp here

Asheville’s First Ever Fashion Week: This is Why We Can Totally Have Nice Things

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Meeoww! KatDog Couture represent! Photo by Pete Zamplas

The music is booming, the soundsystem in The Millroom pleasingly righteous. But I’m not here for a gig or to have drinks with some hot drummer I just met. It’s Asheville’s nascent Fashion Week, four days of runway shows representing a select group of local couturiers. If ya didn’t know it, I like clothes, too.

The term “Asheville fashion” could bring to mind any number of things: hippie clothes, for one, from the incense-scented Deadhead threads found in the touristy import shops to the truly skilled leather- and lace work held down by the fine foxes of Royal Peasantry. For all the slick professionals who can afford $100 blouses, the Lexington Ave boutiques got you, but most of that stuff isn’t designed or manufactured locally (Royal Peasantry excluded!). And then of course there’s that amusing upcycled thing, but let’s not pretend that it’s particularly wearable to most of us.

It is clear upon entering the venue Friday night that the sponsor of the events, Gage Models and Talent, isn’t messing around. Based in Knoxville (with potential plans to expand to Asheville), the established and respected talent agency represents a high artistic caliber, a concept that the cultural infrastructure of Asheville doesn’t yet totally support. In other words, they’ve got money. You won’t find any pants made out of garbage bags here.

And yet Gage doesn’t appear to be riding on waves of pretension or superfluous glamour. The runway set-up is unique yet practical, built into a zig-zag so it crosses aesthetically from one corner of the venue to another. A projection screen displaying the designers’ logos rightly serves as the backdrop. Every seat in the house is filled, the DJ’s bass thuds with anticipation. Most of the photographers are posted up at the end of the runway, their flashes peppering the room.

I am thankful to the gods of time and space when KatDog Couture is announced shortly after I arrive (I’d only missed half of Diamond Brand’s power-outdoor collection). KatDog designer Kati Foster has been on my radar recently, photos of her uniquely Asheville-inspired designs tickling my Facebook feed all year. This all thanks to my friend Aubrey Huntley, who has been one of her key models of feminine badassery for months. I’m stoked to see her walk this collection tonight.

I would rock that little white number so hard. Photo by Pete Zamplas

Foster shows over 25 pieces, a thrilling ride through her current inspiration. Picture it: strapless mini dresses act as the base layer, embellished with an exciting variety of draped, cinched and side-slit skirts, hoods, and capes. From tulle-wrapped, clubby ballerina looks to earth-toned festy forest fairies, the collection is made to be extremely versatile, for wherever you want to look fly and feel comfortable. Most could reasonably be worn for three days straight at a music festival, others would be happy as conversation pieces over low-key drinks on Haywood. There are at least a couple I’d try to seduce you in. If Little Red Riding Hood lived in Montford and her hobbies included sexy acid-fuelled cemetery adventures, her closet would be filled with KatDog. I just want all the dresses. THEY HAVE ALL THE THINGS!

After the show, Aubrey introduces me to Kati (whose humble nature I suspect is overwhelmed by my new sense of fashion groupiedom) and another young designer, Tasha Lief, whose showcase I unfortunately missed on Thursday. Twenty-one-year-old Miss Tasha studies design in Paris like a boss and is probably my favorite new person. I meet some other models and ask barrel-loads of annoying questions, but it’s fascinating to be in a different artistic arena for a change, the exchanges of admiration and of course juicy gossip not unlike that of the music industry.

The week’s finale event takes place Saturday at the Renaissance Hotel. It’s an all-day thing starting at 3pm, but I, typically, don’t make it until 8:30 for the final walk. I see new material from House of Fabrics, Scott McFarland, Southern Charm, Charles Josef, and Angela Kim. Tonight I find model-watching to be the most fun, the range of body types, skin tones, hairstyles and number of tattoos appropriately representative of Asheville people.

There are some models though that look absolutely miserable up there. There’s a difference between a serious runway look and “I can’t stand this and am going to kill every single one of you.” Don’t even get me started on the walks! Ladies, I say this because I love you. If you really are going to pursue modeling you must practice wearing high heels more often. This rough shuffle in reasonable stilettos is awkward and unfair to both you and the shoes. At the same time there is knockout talent up there, and it’s refreshing to see it shine in a city with such relaxed fashion & beauty standards.

I hear later on that a bunch of models didn’t even show up (classy), and the backstage area for a time succumbed to chaos, designers plucking models from other designers, clothes and attitudes flying everywhere. Classic! Mad props to the models who walked two or three times in the same collection and the designers who made it fuckin’ work. You are fierce.

At the end of our first ever Fashion Week, “Asheville fashion” brings to mind new images for me: from swimsuit to bridal, well-crafted, cutting-edge, comfortable attire that reflects and delights the wide range of lifestyles rocking this collective land, sans the pompous price tag. Sock it to me, baby.

In Plain Sight Brings the House Down (to One World Brewing)

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Photo via mountainx.com (2012)

I turn down the hideaway alley to find a line of prospective patrons waiting outside the venue. I’ve never encountered a line here before. I ask the guy ahead of me if they’re at capacity or if this is just a smoker’s circle.

“Yes, we are waiting,” he says in a subtle lilt. Buttoned up and tucked in, I surmise he’s not from around here.

“Guess it’s a busy night,” I say. “In Plain Sight is playing.” He offers a blank stare.

“Local house DJs.”

“Oh! We are from Ukraine. House music is in our blood.” I take this as a good sign for the night.

As I light up a cigarette for the wait, my Ukrainian friends and I are joined by this fetching girl in a ‘90s throwback flower print mini dress. The doorman informs her we are at capacity, news to which she looks genuinely disturbed. Hey honey, it shouldn’t take long, we’re all cool here. It’s when he asks if she is actually one of the band member’s girlfriends, who does have a spot on the list, that she is visibly relieved.

There it is.

“Yeah, they said you would be showing up. I’ve been holding a place for you, love.” Door guy continues to cajole her as he swings the metal door open, to the rest of us adding “the perks of being a musician’s girlfriend!” I remain silent but am tickled inside. Yeah, the perks are sexy, but it hits me how the flip side of being intimately involved with a professional musician is a little less glamorous: rigorous practice and touring schedules, knowing when to give a creative opinion and when to shut the fuck up, frustration, jealousy, intermittent neglect. A relationship of this nature requires an ironclad emotional intelligence, and there should be full-on training for it. Bless you, baby girl in the pretty dress.

The irony of this situation is that for the first time in ages I did not bother securing my own guest list spot since I wasn’t sure if I would in fact make it, and the show was free anyway. But tonight I’m totally cool hanging on the other side of it again. I have plenty of cigarettes.

Set in the underground, speakeasy-style, One World Brewing turns up for In Plain Sight. DJs Lucas Ledford, Ezekiel and Nomad in the Dark make up the trio, who switch off on the tables every 20 minutes or so to keep the pulsing rhythm continuously flowing by way of their individual talents. It’s extra satisfying to finally be in front of In Plain Sight, as I tell you what: I’d been mistaking them for some other group I don’t dig for, like, two years. Can you imagine! It was only at a Moog event in June that I realized who they actually are: bringers of straight up, down ‘n dirty house + techno in a local music scene seriously lacking in it. Where the fuck have I been?

The DJ tables are set up against the brewing room, the eerie green glow from which is the only light in this dark corner. The dance party is in full swing, a typical mix of Asheville types bumping and grooving together. I don’t speak to anyone on the floor, though I’m glad they’re all here; in a sea of bodies I am going into forgotten conversation with my own. My heart declares itself upon the foundation of the strong, repetitive, unembellished beat; I close my eyes and blazing visions of color bleed from my core like spilled ink. Streams of fevered sweat are rolling sub rosa down my chest, under the thin layer of my shirt. I can’t tell which beat is the kick and which is my heart.

Halfway through the set, Nomad in the Dark (aka Ephraim Dean) steps out from behind the tables to greet me. “Are you Backstage Sass?” He must have recognized me by the RBTS WIN tank I’ve (seriously) been rocking for two weeks.

“That’s me,” I confirm, my face aglow, my eyes wide. He might think I’m on drugs. I’d might as well be. He thanks me for coming out and further extends his appreciation for my role in the music community, what with my being an outspoken super fan and all. As if my heart wasn’t warm enough right now.

These guys are clearly a friendly bunch. Their popularity is palpable; it seems almost everyone on the dance floor at one time or another steps behind the speakers to talk to them, except me. In Plain Sight, indeed: the kind of group who is fully here, available to and merging so naturally with their audience.

Which leads me to believe we’ll be meeting again. Watch out, fellas, you’ve got my impassioned ass for a fan now too.

Missed IPS this time around? Catch them August 14th at the New Mountain SOL Bar.

RBTS LOVE

Post-show with RBTS WIN and some Junior Astronomers

Post-show with RBTS WIN and some Junior Astronomers

Last Saturday was a particularly potent music night in Asheville. Holy Ghost Tent Revival was covering Beck’s 1999 album Midnite Vultures in its entirety at the Mothlight (fuck!) while Marley Carroll entertained the Christmas theme-loving drunks at the Holiday Liquor & Dance Luau Party. But amongst all this temptation I knew I was on the path to righteousness, for I was seeing RBTS WIN for the first time at Isis.

A simple stage set supported the black-clad trio, who don’t need mind-melting visuals or even color in their clothes to spread their message of universal love, peace, and good times. Imagine that, Asheville!

The rich, soulful quality of Worsham’s vocals matched with the tremendous electronic beatstorm conducted by Bolea and self-possession of guitarist Josh Chassner exemplifies the yin-yang symbiosis that makes this group shine. (I failed to mention Chassner in my preview piece. My folly! He’s awesome.)

Favorite moments:

1. Whatever Bolea did to make “Stay Wavy” go to 11

2. Drunk chicks up front trying to touch them (yay groupies)

3. “Death Magic” ALL OF IT ALWAYS

 

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Some new songz in there, y’all

I missed first act EmE by a hair, but the second band, Charlotte-based Junior Astronomers, was a lot of fun. The four-piece brought some solid Strokes-influenced indie rock to the party, something the AVL scene pretends to have forgotten about. I’ll speak more on them later when they invite me to a show of their own. You hear that, fellas?

And meanwhile…

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A new band tee deserves a trip to the Bywater

 

…I’m having a ball with my new RBTS WIN tank top. The cut is perfect! Ladies, git it!