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DMNW returns to the road for our first post-pandemic festival: Here’s how it went

Riot Ten plays in front of the crowd at Rawhide Event Center
Credit: “Rukes” (http://www.rukes.com)

That’s right: after a lengthy year and some changes, DMNW is back to covering shows on the road, and what better comeback than seeing Excision in Phoenix for his Evolution tour? Together, Relentless Beats and Excision threw a massive weekend for bass music at Rawhide Event Center. Read below for the full DMNW review of the two-day festival held on June 18th and 19th.

High temperatures for a dubstep paradise

Firstly: Chances are if you stumbled across the weather for this weekend, you may have noticed a bewilderingly scorching heat wave. Although sets started an hour before sunset, the heat peaked at 118 degrees the first day, and wasn’t much cooler the second. It was no small feat for our poor PNW “80-degrees-is-too-hot” selves to survive. However, it was dicey in the throes of heat exhaustion as Excision took stage for the final set.

Although at a disadvantage being unacclimated to the Arizona heat, we weren’t the only ones feeling off. The medical tent was a popular place to be as EMT’s helped a revolving door of people cool off. Attendees and artists alike helped each other stay hydrated and when necessary, a few kind souls parted the sea of people and delivered the urgently unwell to medics.

The hero we needed in 2020: Excision himself

As the headliner and host of the show, Excision played both nights. You might recall pre-COVID when his Evolution tour kicked off at the Tacoma Dome at the end of January 2020. He was able to squeeze in a few more stops before live music ground to a halt, but this show marked his tour’s triumphant return.

Both nights, his sets covered it all. He played all of his essential tracks including a behemoth finale with Rumble, Hoods Up, and G Shit (Badklaat remix). Swinging from the heavier side of bass to the more emotional, Excision briefly squeezed in his Erase You and Oxygen collaborations with Wooli, and his new single with Dion Timmer, Salvation. In addition to his own releases, he cycled through a host of his 2020-launched Subsidia label’s catalog too.

Talented lineup shook out some of the best in bass music

Excision rounded up an excellent lineup for the Relentless Beats-backed festival. No one was safe as the two nights packed in nearly every corner of heavy bass-adjacent sounds.

It’s impossible to choose any standout set from the weekend. SVDDEN DEATH returned for his first live set since pre-COVID (not to be confused with his theatric VOYD set experiences) with endless IDs. As the other artist just before Excision, Sullivan King destroyed the desert with metal and a ton of fake drops. Even Hi I’m Ghost, who played at Portland’s first drive-in concert, played what felt like a brand new set. Among other memorable moments include bass queen Jessica Audiffred who kicked off the show in style.

COVID-19 precautions get scaled back for outdoor festival

As Arizona was one of the first states to completely lift COVID-19 regulations, the show’s precautions looked a little different than what we’d expect in Washington. Event and security staff wore masks throughout the event, and patrons were only required to wear them through security. After the slightly overwhelming feeling we experienced in an indoor Portland club earlier this month, we felt prepared for the same. Despite how many people attended without required social distancing precautions, it felt surprisingly comfortable.

Even through year-long distancing, for the most part, everyone in the crowd just seemed to be happy to be together. The heat may have been brutal but it didn’t feel for a second like anyone took the experience for granted. It was great to see friends and strangers alike dancing together again.

So what does this all mean for us back home in the Pacific Northwest? It’s hard to guess what concert precautions will look like as both Washington and Oregon ease out of gathering restrictions. Although both states are slated to lift all COVID-19 restrictions within the next few days, it could mean that our shows will resemble this event. This could be both exciting and scary so do what feels comfortable and we’ll all meet out there on our own timelines.

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