RL Grime, Lunice Warehouse Live December 10, 2014
From recognizable forms such as trap and dubstep to the (potentially made up) more nebulous genres like deathstep and heaven trap, bass music is on the rise. While it may not have its hooks into popular culture the way that more established genres like house and trance do, if you've spent any time at dance shows over the past few years, you'll have noticed more and more bass music.
Teens and young adults love the stuff. This is no surprise, as the current generation is one of the first that has known rap music their entire life. Rap isn't edgy or foreign anymore; if it's good enough for Tim McGraw, it's good enough for Middle America.
Trap music, being so heavily tied in with rap, is in a unique position to be a gateway to electronic music for kids whose sole exposure to the genre is movie trailers and video games.
But that's all just speculation. So here's something a little more concrete about bass music: RL Grime and Lunice are among the masters of the genre, in their own ways.
This is one of those obvious things that no one ever talks about: concerts are a communal experience. We experience them in our own individual way, sure, but we also experience them together. Some times, the best times, you and a thousand strangers can listen to music together and somehow all be on the same wavelength.
This is a fancy way of saying that the crowd for RL Grime was in a perpetual state of losing its mind together. Call it collective unconscious, call it a hivemind, call it temporary mass hysteria, but if you stood in the back of Warehouse Live and just watched how the crowd responded every time a Grime dropped a new track, it was as if the entire mass of people was responding as one.
Maybe you need that kind of social support to survive the type of set that Grime plays. If you believe that music can wash over you like a wave, then believe that the beats and bass that come out of the speakers during an RL Grime set are like a tidal wave ready to crush you. It is exhausting, but not in a bad way.
His set was largely a festive one, the type of performance that you could drop in the early evening of any major festival and get the crowd energy turned up before the headliner. His command of the audience was pretty much total, borderline freaky. Have you ever seen someone just lose their mind mid-whatever they were doing and start dancing like they were possessed because the DJ picked the right song? That happens a lot when RL Grime is on stage.
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What Lunice lacks in pure audio aggression he makes up by being a captivating performer to watch. To say he is animated is to undersell just how passionate he is about the music he plays and how much he gets in to his performances. This is a man who plays music that he really seems to enjoy and can quote from front to back. Hell, if he really likes a song, he may even have a whole dance performance to go along with it.
Watching your average DJ perform can be pretty mind-numbing, even when the music is good. Yes, yes, lose yourself to dance and forget about the visual component of the show if you want, but there are those of us out there who need more than just to listen to the music we love, but louder.
To see a DJ who not only gets away from his laptop, but lets the music take control of him the way it does the crowd is a refreshing change.
Add to that his impressive technical chops - the man knows how to build up and tear a song apart live - and you've got one of the best performers in dance music today. Plus, "Blood on the Leaves," "R U Ready" and "Higher Ground" are basically a Murderers' Row of outstanding, horn-centric trap tracks that slay in person. It's such a good run of music it actually makes you feel kind of bad when someone has to come on after Lunice.
Genres come and genres go, but for now at least it seems like the future is bright for bass music. The future may even be bright for future bass. But who really knows? Let music be the melting pot that it always wants to be and enjoy the good stuff when you can.
Everything else is just speculation anyway.
Personal Bias: Last time I was at Warehouse Live it was to see Pianos Become the Teeth. But hey, I love that trap shit too.
The Crowd: Lots of people who smoke weed; lots of kids who appreciated a dance-music show that was 16-plus.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Can we smoke in here?" asked a random stranger, mistaking my Sheriff's Secret Police hoodie for...I'm not exactly sure. Apparently the Night Vale Tourism Board needs to do a better job getting the word out on their fair berg.
Random Notebook Dump: Would love to see Lunice & Kanye have a dance off.
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