Pillbox

Bassnectar plays energetic set

Lorin Ashton, better known as Bassnectar, performs distinctive shows by mixing tracks on stage. (credit: Courtesy of MaryJanePoppins via Flickr) Lorin Ashton, better known as Bassnectar, performs distinctive shows by mixing tracks on stage. (credit: Courtesy of MaryJanePoppins via Flickr)

Over 2,000 people were gathered at Stage AE last Monday at around 9:30 p.m., anxiously awaiting the moment when the house lights would turn down and the dull music filling the silence would be cut off. Some of these people looked like they had just come from work, while others looked like they’d never worked a day in their life. Some were dressed head to toe in neon and glitter, while others wore nearly nothing at all.

An outsider looking in might ask, what could possibly bring together all these people, from seemingly all different sects of society? The answer: Bassnectar.

Lorin Ashton — also known as Bassnectar — is one of the biggest names in the American electronic dance music movement. Producing a signature brand of dubstep that samples everything from hip-hop to heavy metal, Ashton has been releasing music under the name Bassnectar since 2001. In addition, he has been touring consistently since 2005, and throughout his career he has gradually gained a reputation as one of the most skilled artists of the electronic genre in terms of live performance. Unlike many other electronic artists who employ a “push play” method of live performance that involves very little effort on their part, Ashton instead mixes tracks on the spot. This approach ensures that Bassnectar shows are both extremely energetic and very distinct from each other.

It’s not just his technical skill that makes the Bassnectar experience a memorable one, however. The sound system he employs is loud enough to make your entire body shake involuntarily, and the massive screen that towers behind him flashes incessantly with everything from abstract visuals to a series of clips from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. A Bassnectar concert is a microcosm of what it’s like to live in the modern era: a constant and unrelenting sensory overload.

While sticking primarily to his impressive wealth of original material, Ashton also gave some other artists’ tunes — such as Kid Cudi’s modern classic “Day ‘n’ Nite” and Azealia Banks’s hit “212” — the Bassnectar treatment. It was pretty disorienting to hear the voice of Bruno Mars singing “Locked Out Of Heaven” over the heavy womps and hard-hitting drums, but everyone’s allowed a few mistakes.

Any kind of human gathering this large and spirited is a pretty beautiful thing. Ages ranged from the teens to the 30s, but that was no matter: Everyone was simply there to dance away and enjoy the music, without worrying about tomorrow. Approximately 20 minutes into his over-two-hour set, the music suddenly cut out and Ashton started walking off the stage. The puzzled crowd began to shout, bringing the long-haired virtuoso back toward the microphone. “It’s Monday night; don’t you guys have work and s*** tomorrow?”

A sold-out Stage AE uniformly responded in the negative, and the assault on the senses resumed.