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Live indoor events return to Portland at 45 East with Ace Aura (DMNW Review)

The return of live music in the Pacific Northwest is well underway as COVID-19 restrictions continue to loosen, and Portland is leading the way. The city’s largest and most well-known indoor electronic music venue, 45 East, finally reopened its doors last week. Up-and-coming bass artist Ace Aura kicked things off for the Portland venue’s first event back.

Portland picks up where it left off before COVID-19

Besides the crowd wearing masks and security staff implementing health screening measures, the event felt mercifully pre-pandemic. It was a bit overwhelming being around so many people indoors again, a few of whom were admittedly inconsistent in following the venue’s mask mandate, but it felt great to be dancing alongside other people again. Venues across the Northwest will likely continue to grapple with the tight-rope walk between holding indoor events and keeping people honest about safety. We felt 45 East did an admirable job.

Directly before Ace Aura, Auxygen stood out as a killer opener. From the beginning through the very end, every head in the crowd focused in on him. Everything from bass house to trap and an abundance of dubstep served as a top-notch Portland introduction to Ace Aura.

For the final 90 minutes of the night, Portland got the taste of bass music we’ve all been waiting for over the past 15 months. Ace Aura electrified the crowd with a blend of his tracks and the classics with his own twist. The nostalgia was palpable during his flip of Cascada’s immortalized 2006 hit Everytime We Touch, and if you weren’t crying at that, just lean into his remix of Nurko’s Blindspot.

Finally, he closed out a night filled with the LED panels and lasers we couldn’t have possibly forgotten about during the last year. Paying dues to dubstep, Ace Aura finished out his set with a flip of Skrillex’s Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. Thundering cheers left ears ringing as the lights came on and attendees grinned ear to ear.

Ace Aura stayed after the show to greet fans, having real interactions and conversations with many. Incredibly talented, kind, and down-to-earth, he’s exactly the kind of artist we want to see in the Pacific Northwest again.

Ace Aura solidifies career in bass music

If you haven’t heard of Ace Aura yet, consider this your sign. 22-year-old Eric Seall had a monumental year in 2020 and shows no signs of slowing down. In a lot of ways, Seall has broken out of the bass music mold and forged a characteristic sound like we’ve not heard before. Combining heavy bass with melodic and chord-driven patterns (often referred to as future riddim), he’s quickly become one of the most standalone producers in the increasingly popular sub-genre.

But his origin story as an artist is even more unique than the music he makes now. Ace Aura first came to creation when Seall was 12 or 13 in a suburb outside of Dallas. Initially, he began producing Christian-influenced electronic music. Although his releases nowadays have less traditional religious influences, the heavy chord progressions in some of his tracks and remixes evoke a analogous feeling.

Throughout the pandemic, Seall’s career has undoubtedly taken off. He’s released some huge collaborations with bass heavyweights Subtronics and TYNAN, and teased an upcoming track with Crankdat. Outside of production, he’s also taken to stages performing at Insomniac’s Wooli Park N’ Rave,  a 1001 Tracklists Exclusive Mix, and a UKF live stream. The future may be a mystery, but pay attention to Ace Aura. With festival and concert season coming in hot, this won’t be the last you hear of him.

Significant event marks new chapter in PNW live dance music

There’s little else to say besides how significant this event was for Portland’s dance music scene. Witnessing everyone cheering, dancing, and shouting together again was just as magical as could be expected. The whole crowd was buzzing by the end of the night, categorically ecstatic to be back inside a music venue.

Throughout the pandemic over the last year, so many treasured independent venues have not survived long-term closures. Portland is fortunate that 45 East has weathered the storm and came back swinging with Ace Aura. With announcements nearly every day, it’s shaping up to be quite a summer for them as well. You can follow along on 45 East’s Instagram for their most up-to-date announcements.

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