Decibel Festival 2014 – Five Acts for Five Days

Allen Huang / September 12, 2014
Photo from
Photo from

It’s the most wonderful tiiiime of the yeaaaaaar!!!

Decibel Festival is back, baby, and as per ritual the schedule is loaded with tough, heartbreaking decisions to be made every day. And, while I’m not going to make those decisions for you, I do want to point you to one act, every day, that you should prooobably not miss, for reasons explained.

Wednesday – Arca + Jesse Kanda [12:00 AM @ EMP Sky Church]

Some facts about Arca: He’s Venezuelan, he’s a producer/DJ, and he’s worked with Kanye on Yeezus and the buzziest artist on the planet right now, FKA Twigs. His sound represents one of the few possibilities the near-future holds for pop music. And what a wild future that would be: icy compression, disgustingly filthy snares, and chirping samples emerging from the ether, like the calls of rusty, robotic birds nesting in a quartz jungle.

It’s hard to separate his aesthetic from his frequent collaborator, the viscerally horrific visualist Jesse Kanda. The forms in his visuals bend and squirm in abhorrent ways, setting the aesthetic of body horror to schizophrenic rhythms. There’s no easy way to describe it; like the infamous “Rubber Johnny” these images will stay with you for a long time, for better or for worse.

Thursday – TOKiMONSTA [12:00 AM @ Showbox Market]

You thought I was gonna say Andy Stott, right?

I love Mr. Stott but I’ve seen him thrice now and every time I’m further convinced seeing him in that musty cement basement a few Decibel’s ago won’t ever be topped.

TOKiMONSTA, however, is an intriguing artist. Adopted by the Brainfeeder family at a young age, her music has since transcended the LA Beat Scene into something more exhilarating and immediate. I saw her at Sasquatch slotted right before Boyz Noize, and to my surprise it made sense. Part of me wonders if she was playing to the festival crowd, and part of me wonders if that was the true face of TOKiMONSTA. A headlining spot at Decibel is the best way to find out.

Friday – Sango [12:00 AM @ The Crocodile]

Soulection represents a crowning, positive achievement of the internet. Part label, part support group, part beat brewery, part promo network, Soulection wears many hats, and is a perpetual hype engine, with each solid track from each producer to join the enclave adding to excitement for the collective as a whole. But with a roster so deep and so talented, it takes a lot of effort to shine bright in this group. Sango makes a strong statement, not only with his stellar catalog of remixes but with the next level Da Rochina 2, released earlier this year for free. It’s a fantastically urban album, a mind meld of Cumbia and Hip-Hop, buzzing with the vitality and the melodic clamor of the big city. This should be the “hype” show at the festival.

Saturday – Slow Year [9:45 @ EMP JBL Theater]

For me, Saturday is all about the unofficial afterparties, so I’m picking something a little early in the night just so you can grab a coffee and get an RSVP double-check in before your night truly begins.

It also works because Slow Year is one of the more compelling acts to come out of Seattle in the last couple years. Local label Hush Hush Records may be best known for finding devout Burial acolytes, but they’re really damn good at it too. Slow Year possesses all the traits one would be looking for in the style: cinematic dread, acknowledgement of the present, exquisitely balanced sonics, melancholy uncertainty. And the JBL theater will be a fantastic place to be engulfed by his envelopes of sound.

Sunday – Tensnake [11:15 @ Q Nightclub]

We’ve gotten weird, we’ve gotten hype, we’ve gotten sad. You should use the last day of the festival to round it out and shake it loose. Tensnake is here to supply. The producer from Hamburg has tunes for days, as I experienced first hand at his incredible set at Flammable earlier this year. It’s fun, funky house with tasteful flourishes and a penchant for earnest cheese, Tensnake lives to place smiles on faces. And that’s the way you should end the festival, with a big-ol’-grin.

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