First, it was a little strange how I heard about the event. I hadn't seen flyers or postcards or heard any local hype about the show. I'm still feeling the city out so that may explain why I hadn't heard any hype in person, but I would have expected some flyers, considering every telephone pole is plastered with them, each unique and quirky. I guess the event was really being overshadowed by MFNW, which is kind of like SXSW, but in Portland, and smaller. I've been hearing and seeing things everywhere for this event which is taking place all over Portland this week. But still, a world class dj/tastemaker coming to Portland on a tour that was only 10 dates. Maybe i'm just not used to a city actually getting artist to stop by, unlike Indianapolis. But regardless, I heard about the show on a news story on xlr8r two days prior to her appearance in portland. not knowing how many chances i'd get for an opportunity like this, after a day of ruminating, i bought my ticket.
Next, the Holocene. I did a little research to find out where this club was that would be housing a bass-erific evening. Turns out its like 15 blocks from my apartment. CRAZY. Theoretically i could have walked to the event, but i figured after an evening of bass weight i probably wouldn't want to hike home after 1am. Upon googling the event space, all the random reviews that popped up seemed pretty typical. "cool space, hip music, bartenders that are aloof and condescending" etc. I haven't been to a place like that in a long time, if ever (once again, Indianapolis is a very different city). They hype sounded like a proper venue for something like this, and made me a little nervous. I haven't been a scenester/hipster for a while and was worried that my rusty self would stick out like a soar thumb. But all in all, the club was really clean, neat, well lit, great soundsystem, and generally enjoyable clientele. The bartenders seemed busy enough, but considering the crowd, the bar did seem a little small. But whatever, i wasn't there to wait in line for drinks. (Important note: never get there early. I got there about 8:30pm and absolutely no one was there. I was chatting up the bartender for something to do as he got ready for the night. Its a weird feeling, worried about sticking out, and then getting there to a completely empty club. the bartender i chatted with was pretty friendly considering all the nasty things i heard about them through the reviews. one really cool thing was, as i was talking to him, mary anne hobbs walked in and straight to the back of the club. but she walked right past me, i could have reached out and touched her. very strange to see someone so close after hearing so much about them, and of them online from across an ocean.)
first up was tyler tastemaker, a local portland dubstep dj. A tall lanky fellow with long hair, and a propensity to nod to the beat. He was a fine warm-up dj. He was out in the lounge, a lowered dance floor from the bar. His tunes were well mixed and a proper warm up as people edged onto the dancefloor. I was near the back when that guy walked up to me and struck up a conversation (you know the type, the one that is drunk before anyone else, chatting up anyone who will listen. not a bad dude, just a little much too early on). He was telling me how Portlanders love to drink. Then they love to dance. I told him i was new to town and he gave me a friendly hard time, but told me i was in a great city that could get mary anne hobbs to come play at a venue like this. All in all, people warily began entering the dance floor, like animals entering a clearing after humans had traipsed through. things began to heat up and people were getting more and more into it. someone brought a big bag of balloons and glowropes and tossed them all over the dance floor for everyone to dance and have fun with. i grabbed a green glow guy. he started at quarter till 10ish, and played for little over an hour. not bad, and certainly great local flavor.
next up was alex b. he started up immediately after tyler tastemaker finished, keeping the momentum going. But he was in a second dance room, behind the room where the evening started. A little disorienting, but i guess the better soundsystem was in the smaller, secondary room. his sound is like eli0t lipp and flying lotus, with a healthy dose of w*nky effects. He played his set on a laptop, i'm assuming running ableton, and an effects board/mixer. Great sound, good vibe. Lots of energy, but i felt it started to get a little samey after a while. beats beats beats, bass drop, effect wash, beats beats beats. but all in all, he was entertaining to watch as it was clear he really enjoyed what he was doing. and that translated well onto the dance floor. check out his website for some nice mixtapes and other info.
as he finished up mary anne hobbs was lingering around behind the dj table, unwrapping her headphones, figuring out what she was gonna play first. people in the crowd were starting to get hyped. clearly the room was full of bass heads who knew what they were in for. one guy turned around and asked me "do you know who that is!?" with a smile that said it all. this was about to be special. with no introduction she lead off this tune, Joker-do it. i've know this tune for a while, but WOW, hearing it on that system was AMAZING. It is true, that dubstep is nice through headphones, great at home, but truly something special on a giant sound system, with bass rumbling your chest cavity. then after a few tunes she played the ubiquitous hyph mngo, almost getting it out of the way. I only recognized one other tune, gutter music. she did two rewinds. there was a lot of wobbley wobble, but it wasn't so bad considering the circumstances and the crowd. but the highlight for me was at the end of the set, when the cheering from us in the crown demanded a kind of encore, she played us a new headhunter tune that he had sent her that day. she let us know that we were the first in the world to hear the tune. which was a really cool feeling, like we were coconspirators. all in all, she was wonderful, a true entertainer. i guess that's to be expected since she does it for a living and has been doing it for a while.
all in all, it was a delightful evening. props to abstract earth project for getting in international beacon like mary ann hobbs, and putting it on at a great venue like the holocene. and especially props to mary anne hobbs, alex b and tyler tastemaker for putting on a great evening with great tunes. a fine way to spend a wednesday night.