There are few words that could appropriately describe Bassnectar’s performance in Hollywood on Friday night.
Living up to his reputation as a consummate entertainer and relentless innovator of electronic music, Bassnectar — also known as Lorin Ashton — ravaged the eclectic crowd at the Palladium with a display of electronic mastery, releasing wave after wave of raucous, chest-rumbling tracks into the sold-out auditorium.
Perhaps as a testament to his esteem in the world of electronic dance music, the line, snaking through a parking lot and out onto the sidewalk along Sunset Boulevard, featured everyone and anyone. There were teens in fluorescent fishnets and glittery American Apparel miniskirts; frat bros in tank tops; and older couples, looking bemused and intrigued.
The common thread? Everyone was expecting a memorable show. And the result was nothing short of what everybody was expecting.
Of course, the show didn’t just start with Bassnectar. DJ AmpLive, noted for his remixes and work as a Bassnectar contributor, opened the show with a short, diverse set featuring everything from Tyler the Creator’s “Yonkers” to a rousing remix of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of.”
Near the end of his set, AmpLive brought out his piece de resistance: a homemade “guitar” with a digital sampling pad as the body and a neck riddled with knobs and buttons, sending the crowd into a fit of excitement.
Electronic duo Big Gigantic stepped up to continue the show. Dominic Lalli and his partner took their places onstage — the former behind a bank of mixers and turntables, with a sax hanging from his neck, and the latter behind a sparkling acoustic drum set.
Saxophones? Drum sets? Not exactly the usual equipment for an EDM show, but Big Gigantic impressed the audience with a fresh, jazz-laced sound that packed a dynamic punch with the addition of live drums. Even this performance was only a hint of what was to come.
It was 11:15 p.m. when the excitement for Bassnectar grew to its breaking point, as the crowd in the historic venue ballooned in wait for the headliner to take the stage. Eventually, Bassnectar arrived, along with his signature flowing locks of dark hair.
“Looking back, I could’ve never imagined a sold-out Palladium crowd in front of me,” he told the crowd, eliciting a roar of approval.
An introductory track of spoken words started the show off, building deliberately and steadily into a last, fleeting second of silence. Then the beat dropped.
“Contained chaos” could describe what happened next, as everyone erupted into a dubstep-induced euphoria. Amid the body-quivering wobbles of bass, audience members celebrated in their own unique ways. Some merely stood in place, gazing in awe at the monstrous assembly of LED light panels onstage that served as Bassnectar’s visual complement. Others sparked an impromptu mosh pit, swinging legs and elbows in a sweat-laced riot of excess energy. And that was just the beginning.
Bassnectar kept the train rolling all night, stepping up the energy and the sheer amount of sound throughout the entirety of his roughly two-hour set. Just when you thought the set couldn’t be any more intense, somehow, someway, he figured out a way to top himself over and over again.
At one point, he mixed in the theme of Hawaii 5-O with the show’s opening sequencing playing along on the massive LED boards onstage. He also dropped in Nirvana, Blur’s famous “Song 2,” a spirited remix of Dev’s popular “Bass Down Low” and, possibly best of all, his remix of English singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding’s “Lights.”
Bassnectar’s performance deftly hybridized numerous genres of electronic music, cementing his conviction to unique, dynamic electronic music that has no distinct boundaries. One moment would be a 200 mph drum-and-bass track, only to be overtaken moments later by the melodic sweeps of trance.
He would eventually send exhausted, sweat-soaked fans reeling into the cool Hollywood night, their bodies aching from the surprisingly physical experience of being subjected to levels of noise and bass previously unexpected.
It’s fitting that the music pouring out of the Palladium hit the senses so hard. For all intents and purposes, Bassnectar didn’t just perform. He was an unbridled knockout.