Admittedly, I’ve only become a serious fan of electronic music within the last year. There’s a steep genre learning curve, but Decibel Festival is a perfect opportunity to figure out what kind of electronic music you actually like. This has been my first year attending the now-internationally renowned music showcase, so it was a bit of a buzz kill when my Friday night plans fell apart from the get go.
The biggest bummer was missing out on the Warm Oscillations showcase at The Crocodile. Sources at the site warned me that the sold-out show was running on a “one in/one out” system that made the line excruciatingly slow. I had already planned to spend the evening sans-car (to avoid fighting the Belltown club rats for street parking), and getting to and from The Crocodile on public transit or by foot was looking grim as time wore on. Not wanting to bail on the other shows on Capitol Hill that I wanted to see, I made an executive decision to bid my dreams of seeing Mux Mool, Beat Connection and Star Slinger adios.
I cut the self-pity session short and headed to The Woods for the Loft Revival showcase. Aiming to recreate the decadent party scenes of the 1970s, it was also an exhibition of some great Portland-based house and disco groups. Miracles Club came highly recommended and they did not disappoint. Even waiting in the “one in/one out” line at The Woods for 20 minutes didn’t dissuade me from the fact that this artsy trio was blowing minds left and right. Their disco-diva sound coupled with performances by some dynamic avant garde dancers hammered home the Loft Revival theme of the night.
Next up was Martyn, a Dutch DJ and dubstep pioneer who recently relocated to Washington D.C. I’d heard a lot about his deep groove approach to dub, but what I caught at Neumos leaned more toward mechanical, repetitive house. After giving the set some time to sink in, the friends and Decibel veterans I was rolling with voted to head over to The Baltic Room to watch Detroit producer Kyle Hall man the decks for the TRUST showcase. A true musical prodigy, Hall has been bewitching ears since his teens after being championed by established artists like Mike Huckaby and Omar-S. Hell, the kid isn’t even of legal drinking age yet. The scene was packed but not stifling, and Hall was killing it with his soulful and melodic house beats. It laid out a warmer and upbeat tone that ended the night on a definite positive.
Despite initial snafus, my Friday night club hop was more than satisfying. It’s hard for me to gauge how the spread-out nature of Decibel this year and the range of venue sizes has affected people’s ability to see all artists they want to see. Having mostly experienced outdoor-only festivals, it was strange to be practically turned away at certain shows. But with the way Decibel has grown over the years, it’s not surprising that the festival is headed toward larger-than-capacity proportions.