Most of us within the electronic music have a preferred genre, and a community of like minds that we share that music with regularly. Facebook alone features various groups for bassheads, trance fans, and everything in between. These online communities often act as playgrounds for musical discovery within their respective genres, but at the same time, they’re also prisons. They keep us all in a feedback loop of listening to one kind of music, while dismissing a world’s worth of discovery on the other side of the spectrum. In the interest of breaking out of this loop, I ventured out of my bubble of bass, and into Insomniac’s inaugural Dreamstate.
A little background on my musical history: My first live experience with electronic music was Rusko, way back in 2011 at Seattle’s Showbox Sodo. That night began a love affair with bass music that’s made Excision my most most-seen artist, with artists like Figure, SKisM, and Bassnectar not far behind. All that being so, an experience like the trance-centric Dreamstate is about as uncomfortable as I get from a musical perspective.
But having been to bass-havens like Shambhala and Safe in Sound in the past, Dreamstate felt all too familiar. Trance communities from around the country flocked to Insomniac’s debut edition of the event, with a lineup heavy on the harder avenues of the genre. For my own time there, it wasn’t hard to see the whole affair as a learning experience. Full disclosure: I don’t particularly enjoy psy-trance, or really anything of the 140 bpm variety. Something about its more repetitive aspects never really clicked with my brain’s need for breakdowns, mid-tempo rhythms, and scary robot sounds. But I’ll be damned if I’ll let that keep me from an amazing festival experience.
Despite my own reservations, I had a great time at Dreamstate. The people were friendly, the production was on point, the event was well managed, and for trance fans, the music couldn’t have been more perfect. My own musical journey was one that had me making my first real attempt at understanding and appreciating hard trance. And even though I came out of the weekend generally convinced that this music isn’t really for me, I’m happy to have experienced it nonetheless. Hell, if I had the money for a flight and a hotel, I’d still end up going to Dreamstate’s Bay Area edition in January. The way I see it, there’s no sense in limiting yourself musically when there’s a whole world of other genres out there.
The one thing I took home from all this is something we’ve been trying to teach here at DMNW for awhile now: Limiting yourself to a single kind of music is a good way to miss out on a lot of talented and interesting artists. I may not make a habit of listening to Dreamstate’s brand of trance, but you can bet I gained a newfound appreciation for the genre over the course of that weekend. When it comes to larger lessons, I’ll say this: The phrase, “I’m not going to X festival because there’s not enough of X genre” needs to be eliminated from our collective vocabulary, and that’s speaking to both sides of the trance/bass aisle. So to that end, I’ll wrap things up with some takeaways for all involved.
Guys, I know you, like me, love hard, heavy music. But what if I told you that there are trance DJs out there who aren’t all PLUR and rainbows? I’m talking two dudes wearing badass brown leather cloaks and hoods. Or the one guy in the genre who calls his podcast “Headfuck Radio.” It’s all beautifully weird, and on an experiential level, it’s an absolute blast. You might not even like it much at first, but why not at least give it a try? Dreamstate was 20 hours over two days, and I managed to come out the other end intact. How about experiencing 5% of that and trying it on for size at a local club night?
Listen, I know the bass stage seems like a horrifying gulag made up of head-banging lunatics on bath salts, but I promise you we’re way less scary than you think. Let’s face it, in the grand scheme of popular music, the stuff we both love is pretty fucking weird. If you go back in time to King Arthur’s court, switch on your iPod, and play them either Excision’s last Shambhala mix or GAIA’s EDC set, odds are both would get you burned at the stake as a witch. Knowing that, maybe go catch a Substance Wednesday at Foundation sometime in the near future. Meet a few bassheads, listen to some music that makes you just a little uneasy, and most importantly, get out of your comfort zone. I promise you won’t regret it.
Get all the latest Pacific Northwest nightlife news, directly to your inbox.