DMNW had the absolute pleasure of attending Excision’s Thunderdome 2023. This year was the fifth installment of the event, held at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. The vibes were immaculate and the lasers were insane. Excision really brought the heat to the Dome, as well as many other excellent artists.
This year, the stage was even bigger and better than last year. There were sizable side screens that extended on the sides and added to the immersive experience of the stage. The stage is said to be 10 stories high and we identified at the show that this was true. Overall, I was very impressed with the heightened level of production. It really added more opportunity to see the visuals.
On night one, Jykl & Hyde started off the show, followed by Ace Aura. This was a great way to start the night with a mix of different styles of music. Next up was HOL!, who built up the heavy bass. Space Laces came on next and played one of his heavier sets. Then, Sullivan King took us on a dark ride with his intense visuals. The bass seemed to get even louder as the night progressed.
I had the pleasure of meeting Sullivan King right before he played his set. He is one of my favorite artists, and it was such a cool experience to meet him. It’s clear he is genuine, kind, and loves his fans. He spent a lot of time meeting everyone who came up to him and took hundreds of pictures. Meanwhile, I was trying not to act like a crazy fan, but I was blown away that I got to meet him and talk to him about how excited I was for his set.
Next up was Black Tiger Sex Machine (BTSM). The usual trio was missing one person, but they made up for it easily. And of course, to close out the night we had the one and only Excision. We don’t know how he finds a way to add more lasers every year, but every Thunderdome, he somehow figures out a way to double them.
It was unbelievable how the lasers reached out into the crowd. There wasn’t a bad view from any angle. Of course, Excision killed it. Every time I see him, I am always more impressed with each experience. I love that I’ve heard all of his songs before, but the visuals are always changing. My favorite new visual was a robotic spider that appeared to be shooting lasers into the crowd as if they were webs. The pit grew massively in size during his set. I was also very surprised when a giant blow up T-Rex was dancing its way through the crowd.
As if night one couldn’t have gone better, we entered into night two
The second night started with dubstep right off the bat from Stoned Level. Layz followed, who I have seen a couple times and she always brings the energy. Next up was Calcium, who always has amazing skeleton themed visuals. One of my favorite sets was right after: Dion Timmer b2b Kompany. These two really meshed well together.
After that, Virtual Riot performed and then SVDDEN DEATH played one of his better sets I’ve seen in the past year. Last but not least, Excision closed out night two, with an even better set than the first. Somehow, there were even more lasers than night one. Of the three nights, the second was definitely my favorite.
This year, Thunderdome was unique because it had a third night. Tickets for the first two nights sold out in minutes, so a third night was added. For being added on the fly, this was a stacked lineup and because of this it eventually sold out as well. The night started off with Whales, who recently released his single It’s Not Love, followed up with sets from RZRKT and LOUIEJAYXX. Leotrix was next, this was my first time seeing him and he really lived up to his reputation of unique sound design.
Best friends Kai Wachi and Sullivan King played their Meal Prep bass house set next. It was mixed with dubstep and visuals that included mostly comedy spoofs and memes of other DJs. They both also came out with no clothes on, just aprons. After Meal Prep, Phase One played and then Ghastly played his Ghengar alias set.
Ghastly Premiered his new Ghengar set
During the Ghengar set, Ghastly wore an LED helmet with a long tail on it. This complemented the darker style of this set with a creepy element. For those of you who are not familiar with Pokémon, Ghastly the Pokémon evolves into Ghengar, which is representative of Ghastly’s evolution into the Ghengar alter ego. Wooli played next and helped set the tone for the back to back that was coming our way.
The finale of the festival was Excision’s Detox set b2b Liquid Stranger. This was the first time the Detox set was performed b2b with Liquid Stranger, and it was absolutely legendary. Looking around, some festival goers were moved to tears. These two incredible artists only have one collab track that was released 13 years ago called Get to the Point, which is amazing considering how well they flowed together. During their set, we were informed that they have a new track together that should be released on all listening platforms soon.
The Highs and Few Lows
All in all, there were definite improvements from last year’s Thunderdome. Last year there were not enough water stations, but with additional stations this year, it was not hard to get water. The merch booth was well stocked up on everything and with all different sizes. Though these improvements were spectacular, there are a few additional changes that could be beneficial next year.
Even though the merch booth was well stocked, the line stretched into the middle of the crowd into the pit. It was nearly impossible to get around without merging to the other side of the stage. Next year, the line could be managed more closely to make it easier to move around, specifically to get to the bathrooms.
The bathroom situation was very chaotic. People waited in line for an hour plus (sometimes the full length of a set), especially in the main area downstairs. There were a few additional bathrooms in the hallway area as well, but they were closed and the hallway was difficult to walk through. A few festival goers reported that they weren’t hydrating as much simply so they wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom and miss seeing artists. Next year, I’d love to see additional bathroom options, like port-a-potties in an outside area that can be securely closed off.
To wrap things up, I would give Thunderdome an A- grade. The changes made from last year really made a difference, and I look forward to seeing what other changes might be made for next year. Thunderdome fans: see you next year!
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