Zomboy, Carnage Stereo Live January 19, 2013
When asked about a philosophy when it comes to club shows, your average DJ is apt to say something about taking the crowd on a journey or giving them an experience. Whether or not they deliver on that philosophy is another matter, and whether the crowd cares is another still.
Then there are some DJs who just want to smash your face in, figuratively speaking.
Although we've never talked about it, having survived Zomboy's hour-and-a-half set Saturday night at Stereo Live, I feel safe saying that his goal when he steps onstage is to smash faces. He might phrase it differently, but however you dress it up he plays fast, frantic music that runs right up to the edge of overwhelming.
It's not a journey, but I didn't see anyone complaining.
Although Zomboy was the headliner, a few words must be said about the outstanding set that Carnage played in the support slot. An opening slot is a chance to make new fans and get your name out there, which is why it's frustrating to sit through boring sets where the DJ has no energy and is just going through the motions until their time is up.
Carnage is the exact opposite. He has presence and attitude that are hard to ignore. He manages to play to the crowd while making it seem like he's doing whatever the hell he wants; his mix of dubstep, trap, hardstyle, and whatever other genres strike his fancy rocks crowds looking for more than just the four-on-the-floor house beat. It's a dark sound, but not a sad one; there's an almost horror-movie energy to it, which is fitting given his name.
Yet despite his name, there was no room for menace in Zomboy's set. He's not looking to create a mood other than "overload." It's a method that plays well with his role as headliner; everyone knows that headliners get more volume, more lights, and better graphics, so Zomboy just takes things to their logical conclusion by dropping dubstep tracks that are so busy there's no room for silence.
It felt more like a festival set than an up-and-coming artist trying to define himself to an audience, although he makes a good case that his originals fit in the same world that Skrillex, Flux Pavillion, and Knife Party call home.
As the tracks bled into one another, the crowd stayed moving, including some poor attempts at crowdsurfing. It's weird because it's not that you can't dance to dubstep, it's just that most people haven't figured out how to keep up with the energy of the music. Or maybe the combination of bass and lights was just making it hard for them to think.
It's not always the easiest music to digest but, like I said, I didn't see anyone complaining.
Personal Bias: I like dubstep more in theory than in practice. Chaos is good, but I usually fill my wobble bass, growl, and noise needs with complextro.
The Crowd: Oblivious to the lower temperatures outside the venue. Oh to be young and impervious to cold again.
Overhead In the Crowd: "I like the music, I like the beat. I can two-step to this shit," said the world's nicest security guard, minutes before he threw someone out of the club for public urination. We also agreed that earplugs are awesome.
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Random Notebook Dump: Sometimes I feel the real musical winners of the night are not the DJs onstage but the artists they're spinning. In this case Krewella is doing it right, because both Carnage and Zomboy dropped "Alive" into their sets and the crowd ate it up both times.