My Greatest Nightmare: How I Accidentally Went to a Psytrance Party and Had a Good Time

I asked for it, really.

Friday night before Halloween, I suggest to my boyfriend Lucas that we do something a little out of the ordinary. I’m getting ready to spend the majority of the weekend at work, ultimately miss the In Plain Sight-headlined party at Asheville Music Hall, and circle back to the reasonable Monday night when little more than trick-or-treating with the kid is in the cards. So when he insists we go out to Sol Bar for this week’s installment of SOL Vibes, I’m admittedly not so enthused. I was thinking something like Korean food and a makeout sesh in a parking lot. How is this different?

“But Starseed’s playing,” he presses, a sweet glint in his eye. He’s referring to Michael Starseed, the high energy, tech DJ he first danced in love to at the Bunny Hop party last March. I acquiesce because Lucas is being cute about it, but when I look up the event page, I feel I must make mention of certain facts.

“You know it’s a psytrance party,” I announce, scrolling through a list of “dark psy/forest” DJs I’ve never heard of. He is surprised to hear that, not familiar with Starseed’s alleged psy side, but he ignores my obvious desire to make a thing of it. After a frustrating number of outfit changes I end up in my purple wig and a long-sleeved mini dress. I hate all my clothes and am being kind of a brat about it.

The club is, to my honest surprise, packed when we arrive. Ghouls and punks, wicked fairies and cheeky “A Clockwork Orange” thugettes mill about, everyone lit up with the spirit of Halloween but somehow also the spirit of psytrance. Asheville knows this is neither my nor househead Lucas’ cup of tea and are clearly bewildered at our appearance. I’m just as surprised as they are; I don’t know how the hell to dance to those drilling rhythms, and if I can’t dance or cry to it then what is the point? I park it on the smoking deck and allow the experience to unfold.

Ramin eventually plops down next to me and leans over, sensing my slight discomfort, to break it down in that comically pragmatic way he does so well: “It’s all in the shoulders; just move your shoulders back and forth and people will think you know what you’re doing.” I crack up at the idea, that this is somehow just a matter of learning a new dance move. Amused and yet unconvinced, I take a bathroom break.

On my way back through the jerking, flailing tangle on the dance floor, I decide to give it a shot because I’m ultimately just boring myself (and Lucas, who’s really trying not to be annoyed with me). From the outside looking in it seems silly at first, rowing my shoulders back and forth to the violent, penetrating thumps. It’s too fast! How does anyone feel anything? Why is everyone having such a good time? What am I missing? I ask myself desperately, not typically someone who struggles to have a good time.

But eventually, frustrated with my attachment to the idea that I can’t do psytrance, I let it go. I’m tired of it, fuck it. I can and I will! Suddenly, the sharpness of the crowd becomes somehow softer, the BPM so high my body concedes and moves more slowly. And there, between the dozens of shoulders and the living autumn altar, I’m feeling…good. I’m feeling connected to the electric mass on the floor, my body-hugging dress, and the smiles of my friends and strangers around me.

Lucas is overjoyed when he sees I have pulled my head out of my ass, though he’s still curious when Starseed is going to show up. He gets Shawn Ivy’s attention next to him. She knows things.

“Starseed? Michael Starseed? Hahahaha. Oh, Lucas,” she belly laughs at him. “No, different Star Seed. Two words,” she sweetly explains, tore up with laughter.

“There’s another Star Seed?!” He blinks blankly in amazement at first, then breaks into a smile. “We were tricked!” he jovially proclaims, grabbing me firmly by the waist. Slightly disappointed but happily mindfucked, we get back to wildly shaking our shoulders.

I never thought I would say psytrance helped me access something deep and good that night. Still not something I would ever want to hear outside of a social setting, it’s sound for the sake of movement, a fierce core of energy for the sake of shaking shit up, and a magnetic playground for the weird and wonderful.

Over our last cigarette, we see that the fake nutsacks on the Clockwork Orange girls are no longer enough to keep them warm, and they accept a kind offer from another barely dressed girl to wear her coat. They are all relieved when she tucks inside to retrieve it. But what she brings back out is not a coat.

It’s PIZZA. An entire box of pizza.

I mean, damn girl, that’s a trick and a treat. They all dig in to the warm embrace of pepperoni, coats be damned. Hats off to you, Psytrance Pizza Fairy. You shook that shit up.

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

our house nye3

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

aligning minds

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

mimosa7

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

minnesotabass2

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!

 

SuicideGirls’ Blackheart Burlesque Coming Hot & Hard to New Mountain 10/29

blackheart burlesque logo

Blackheart Burlesque logo

“It’s a pop culture nerdgasm,” she tells me, her surprisingly sweet, soft voice brimming with excitement. I’m speaking with Missy Suicide, founder of legendary Playboy-style alternative pinup/lifestyle magazine SuicideGirls. You know, the hot tatted and pierced chicks. At the time of its inception in 2001, SuicideGirls revolutionized the Big Breasted Blonde-saturated pinup market and turned on its head what people thought a centerfold should look like. It seems commonplace now of course, which speaks to the widespread cultural impact of SG’s ongoing mission.

I could probably talk to this baby girl for days, but our conversation tonight has its own mission. Blackheart Burlesque, a traveling troupe of SG dancers and models, is a side project within the greater SuicideGirls community. Missy puts it simply: “We wanted to take the sexy spirit of the pinup photos we do on the website, turn it into a live performance and update the classic burlesque style with our modern version of femininity.”

Sounds legit. And it is. Blackheart Burlesque has been around since the early days of SuicideGirls itself, and they’ve been poised daringly on the cutting edge of modern burlesque since the resurgence in the performance art’s popularity over the last 15 years.

Blackheart Burlesque is currently on a national tour of their show, a hot, hip, nerd-tastic spectacle gushing with pop culture references and satires. You want topless girls in Storm Trooper helmets? Check. Game of Thrones characters stripped down? Sexy Sailor Moon? Check and check. Hell, after the show you might even think differently about 50 Shades of Grey.

“We wanted to take these things we nerd out on and pay homage to them in a sexy, different sort of way,” Missy explains. “The thing I nerd out on is matching the music to the theme; say, a Black Keys song with Adventure Time. The Star Wars number is set to a Major Lazer song. And it just works so well!” Ah, a clever girl after my own black heart.

And it does work, because Blackheart Burlesque has continually been upping its game. “The level of burlesque performance has really escalated; the old AC/DC, leather pants striptease is not enough to wow people [anymore]. We’re executing everything at a much higher level.”

That they are. All the performers are classically trained dancers based out of LA, and for the last two years Missy has been producing the shows with world-renowned choreographer Manwe Sauls-Addison, who has worked with global pop stars like Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. This is not the janky sort of set-up that relies on feather boas and tasseled titties to get a rise out of the audience. This is the big time.

Blackheart Burlesque performs in Asheville for the first time ever tonight at New Mountain! With Halloween two days away, let’s show these ladies how we do it here. Make them come crawling back for more.

Tickets are admittedly on the pricier side at $25-85, but Missy promises “you can’t leave the show without a smile on your face. It’s just so, so sexy.”

That’ll do me, darlin’.

Michal Menert & The Pretty Fantastics Are Gonna Be Just That Oct 15

michal menert pf

In my preview piece for Eliot Lipp last week I teased a second Pretty Lights Music label artist coming to Asheville this month. Well, the time is nigh, electroheads! OG Pretty Lights rainbow brother Michal Menert brings his full band to New Mountain tomorrow, October 15.

By full band I mean the five other Pretty Fantastics, an abridged version of the 18-piece “Big Band” he’s played with selectively over the last few months. But six is still a bigger band than most, the drums, guitars, keys, and horns fleshing out Menert’s central beat-dropping. There’s no way it’s not gonna be good. Really good.

What’s even better is the album they’re supporting, released at the end of September, simply titled 1. I’m going to assume that means he plans to make more albums with this group, as he should. 1 still very much touts his signature electro-soul sound, but it’s a slight departure from the heavy hitters of previous works. There’s a soft psychedelia mixed with stuff you could imagine Andre 3000 demoing after smoking some really good hash. My favorite track, “If You Knew,” is a rework of the build-up and breakdown of 2011′s “Lost Pieces.” I loved it even before I heard the wildfire guitar solo ripping through the end. Ahhh, I miss guitar solos. Bring someone you can touch in the dark.

Russ Liquid supports.

I’ve been knocking back cold medicine for a couple days straight, so I’m done being human now so I can be alive at the show. No one give me drugs tomorrow, k thanks. Er…only if they’re really good.

Tickets: $12 advance // $15 door

Doors: 9:00pm

 

 

 

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