Bassnectar closes out Sahara Tent with style on first night of Coachella
There’s a sort of magic evoked when Bassnectar steps up behind the decks. With his bristling, Dumbledore-like hairstyle, bony limps, and spiritually-infused voice, one could easily mistake Lorin Ashton for a new age shaman. When considering his vast catalogue of mystical bass productions and the accompanying ethereal experience they entail, perhaps the label isn’t too far off. His Friday night set from Coachella’s Sahara Tent was a testament to both his remarkable mixing abilities as well as the more awe-inspiring elements of his live production. Read past the break for a full set review from his recent Coachella performance.
As the hushed faces of the darkened Sahara Tent became suddenly illuminated by the onset of a pervasive blue light, it meant only one thing: Bassnectar had arrived. After a string of complimentary words, the bass shaman initiated a powerful countdown into his first track, “Encore.”
Opening with “Encore” seemed like an ironic choice literally speaking, but it certainly served its purpose of lighting the Sahara tent ablaze with howling echoes and flailing arms. The thunderous Wildstyle EP track was followed by a lighter, more cosmic-oriented production — presumably an unreleased ‘nectar tune. Stargazing quickly turned to enthused miming as Lorin mixed in a drumstep rendition of Jay-Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.”
Next came “The Matrix” backed by fitting visuals of Neo and Morpheus sparring. A sample of “Bounce” (“you know you love it”) soon followed, before Lorin unleashed one of his most mind-bending transitions of the set, slowing down the track and creating a transposed, whirlpool-like effect. As we sank into the time-stretched tune, the whipping effect slowly began accelerating into a build up, bridging into “Freestyle” off Bassnectar’s most recent Freestyle EP. A massive VIP of his own “Probable Cause” soon found its way into the mix, as did the lovely dub vibes of “What” and a remix to Zed Bias’s “Jigga Up.”
Throughout the entire set, I couldn’t stop pondering the refinement of each calculated movement, as Bassnectar launched clips left and right, toying with acapella samples throughout multiple tracks. One particularly noteworthy instance came when Lorin broke out his classic “100” binary-code sample, layering it over the outro beat of the previous song. As the loop ran on, he introduced a second acapella from Dead Prez’s “Hip Hop.” As “one hundred, one hundred” clashed fists with “one thing ’bout music when it hits you feel no pain,” a snare-laden build up gave direction to the samples, leading to Bassenctar’s trap VIP of his own “Va Va Voom.”
After some phrases of ricocheting trap bass, the samples returned to their redundant yet intriguing muttering. At this point, a fourth track entered the mix, as a new build up could be heard surfacing from beneath the layered foundation of vocals and kick-snare combos. As the familiar sample “it’s the tune bada-bing bada-boom” pierced the cluttered frequencies, the highly overlooked dubstep drop of the original “Va Va Voom” decimated all else.
It was moments like these during the show that I couldn’t help but outwardly shower heaps of praise on the all-powerful bass lord. Wrapping up his set, Bassnectar picked up the tempo to drumstep for both “Infinity” and “Breathless” off his Freestyle EP. Setting a loop on the melody of “Breathless,” I could hear Bassnectar mixing in his colossal remix to Underworld’s “Rez,” yet a quick glance at the clock on stage led to his sudden realization that he had 30 seconds left. Not even Bassnectar’s supernatural abilities could transcend the notoriously rigid set times of Coachella. They did, however, allow for the bass wizard to drop a brief stint of drum ‘n’ bass, courtesy of his own remix to Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades.”
Bassnectar’s set from Friday night was undoubtedly one of the Sahara Tent’s best of the weekend. Lorin moved through countless genres while cleanly layering samples and acapellas — on the whole displaying an unparalleled technicality. Even if you don’t share the same veneration I do for the enigmatic bass music producer, a chance to catch Lorin Ashton live should never be skipped.