Concert Review: Bassnectar at White Room, October 17

Photo by Anthony Verrilli
Click here to view photos from this event.

Saturday, October 17, 2009
White Room, Miami

Better Than: A full-scale dance riot.

White Room shut down for a week and performed a few fan-friendly renovations, and when the joint reopened on Saturday night, it was just like opening night all over again, and then some. The line stretched around the block, the crowd came to go wild, and the whole venue blew up in some spontaneous celebration that lasted well into the proverbial wee small hours of the morning. And it made each and every one of those hours larger than life itself.

The occasion? Why the appearance of a cat called Bassnectar and the launch of a night known as Arcade. If you read this week's preview, you know that Bassnectar is the sonic equivalent of Adbusters, and that the Bay Area baddass is the turntablist's answer to Negativland. If you hit White Room on Saturday night, you'll know that the cat has turned breakbeat into a whole new phenomenon, one that rages at the angels as much as it howls at the moon. Mostly though you'll know that Bassnectar booms like a thousand ghetto jalopies, and drips like the fruit of the almighty gods of gone, baby, gone. Think face-melting heat, then add hot and you'll get a feel for what I'm getting at.

In fact so heated did he and his coterie have White Room, hell would've looked like a respite. I'm talking about wall-to-wall sweat, and floor-to-ceiling stomp. Hell, from the first big bass beat to the very last boom-boom, people were pummeled so closely together they had no choice but to dance with their arms held straight above their heads.

Of course having Damaged Goods warm up the sold souls did much to make the roar that much louder. DG, who we also helpfully featured this week, could get an orb up and moving on the dancefloor. So anybody with legs naturally started jumping off from the get. Then again having crazy cool collisions like Jellyroll and Lil Jon and AC/DC and MGMT blasting up through our spine is tantamount to having a gun held to your head and being told to "start dancing." The only difference is instead of risking being shot, you just get shot out.

But the star of the show, of course, was indeed Bassnectar, whose absolute frenzy is both contagious and infectious. Thing about it is though, this is the kinda virus you'll go outta your way to contract. And once you catch it, you'll never let it go.

I won't even begin to try to list the snippets and the samples and the riffs and the refrains I heard blasting out of White Room's souped-up sound system, even if I could have. Because once Basssnectar started bashing in everybody's heads, I got bashed right along with them. I will say that I've never heard anything like it, that close, that loud and that sublime. And if the cat ever comes back to this city, I'll be back up in the booth getting bashed all over again.

I'll also tell ya that anybody anywhere who dares to say that Miami can't cut it in the radical world of new, now dance obviously has never caught a wilding like what went down at White Room on Saturday night. Because if they had they'd shut the fuck up once and for all. Our town knows how to turn it on, dig? And we know how to throw down. And nobody but nobody better ever forget it.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: White Room's one of my favorite hangouts, so it's dynamite to see them explode all over again.

Random Detail: Lorin Ashton's (a.k.a. Bassnectar) hair could stretch from here to eternity and still have enough room left over to get Rapunzel out of her tower.

By the Way: If you hit Bassnectar's site, you can hear some of what you missed Saturday night. But you still won't come close to the sheer pandemonium.

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John Hood