They say that the first sound humans ever heard was BASS! The footsteps of a big effin’ Woolly Mammoth stampeding across the northern plains, giant-ass boulders tumbling down mountainsides into shallow riverbeds and the ingenuity of man to figure out that pulling tanned leather hides over hollow tubes produced a thump that one day would serve as rhythm to help move people in masses. Fast forward a few thousand years later and we find ourselves being serenaded by this sound last weekend from the leader of the Bassheads and his friend with the Pretty Lights, in a two-day spectacular that proved, Bass Conquers All and good music with live accompaniment never sucks.
Basslights 2.0 made its annual appearance this past weekend in Miami, about a thousand miles south from last year’s first edition in Hampton, VA. Headlined by Pretty Lights and Bassnectar alternating final sets Friday/Saturday night with support from Pantyraid, Run the Jewels, Koan Sound and SuperVision.
This little jewel of a mini-festival featured Pretty Lights showcasing a new stage set up playing alongside a live band, and Bassnectar doing what Bassnectar does, blowing out your effin’ eardrums and punching you straight in the face – at least that’s how it felt when we woke up on Sunday with our heads pounding.
So what can be said about Pretty Lights that hasn’t already, “A Color Map Of the Sun” is an outstanding record, guy’s DJ sets are always on point and he’s known for one of the best light shows in the game. All this made us even more pumped up to experience his headlining set on Friday night, and we weren’t disappointed. Sonically, the sound projecting from the five stage platforms featuring musicians alongside PL on piano, drums, guitar and horns was a much more richer, texturized version than what you’ll typically see or hear in a solo PL performance – if you have the deluxe version of Color Map listen to the reels and you’ll get an idea of what we’re talking about.
These live renditions turned out to be a true treat for the crowd, cultivating in a performance that was given a more organic heady feel, ripped away from the scene’s present day synthetic pop sensibility of laptop beat matching, button pushing and uninspired build ups and drops. The songs mixed in more fluid with a live band, utilizing each musician’s skill with the sound being manipulated by PL using analog mixers and moog modulators. It was music to our ears when the band went into a extended soulful jam-band version of “Finally Moving” ending a night filled with PL classics and various live arrangements of tracks off A Color Map. For any fan of Pretty Lights’s music the live instrumentation adds more life to a stage show that’s already full of adventure and wonder – a definite must see for everyone!
And for what Friday night was to those fans seeking Pretty Lights’s blissful soul rhythms and synth laden harmonies; Saturday night was to those mother-fuckers who wanted to rage and throw it down on some massive reverberation shit!
We’ve seen Bassnectar twice this year, both times in a festival environment and both times we came away with our minds-blown and faces melted. And just when you think this guy couldn’t go any harder than he does, you’re at the next show sayin’ to yourself, ‘Got DAMN…this is soooo sick! No difference at Basslights in Miami where he approached Saturday night’s closing set with an old school feel dropping classic tracks off of “Time Stretch”, bassheads’ favorites “Ugly”, “Pink Elephants” and mixing in a ridiculous mash-up of Nas’s “If I Ruled The World” on top of M.I.A’s “Paper Planes.” Who does that? Absolutely brilliant move! Capped off by a confetti, bass filled raindance send off only before posing for some friendly family photos with a crowd of sweating strangers next to us.
All in all, Basslights, ended up being a solid episode for the festival books. Reminiscent of the internal conflicts that go on in our heads about right and wrong, good vs. evil or if Star Wars is really better than Star Trek – only Jedi Mind tricks in this camp. And even though Bassnectar and PL are amazing artists on their own, there’s something about their styles that go perfectly together only confirming the theory of Yin and Yang; how seemingly opposite or contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world; and, how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. Proving bass and soul are more than just sounds, they’re feelings you can’t really explain to anyone, but have to experience.
Writer + Photos | Ditto Ramirez
Additional Photo Credits: Bassnectar.com