Event Review: Decibel Festival in Seattle 9/25-9/29

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Phew! So much to do, so little time. After a jam-packed week of electronic music and art, we are equally worn out and extremely satisfied. Celebrating their ten-year anniversary, Decibel Festival 2013 definitely did not disappoint.

As a grassroots, volunteer-run festival, dB Fest goes above and beyond in their dedication to providing attendees with the most, in my personal opinion, well-rounded and educationally focused festival experience I’ve ever had.

With multimedia art exhibits at locations throughout the city, a conference including three days of educational and business oriented meetings and activities, after-hours shows at local clubs, boat parties during the day, dB Films, a topical film series, and various visual and multimedia art installations ALL included in a festival pass, there was no shortage of awesome Decibel activities to attend all week!

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Moby kicked off my week in style on Thursday night with a surprisingly high-energy DJ set at the Showbox SoDo in downtown Seattle. The 48-year-old, a pillar of EDM community and a member of the old guard from its initial rise, definitely knows what he’s doing on the decks. He rocked a crowd made up of his hardcore, older fans and screaming young kids who could be their children alike with funky break beats, crazy visuals, and even some much harder drops that I totally was not expecting. Seeing Moby was a dream come true for this writer, initially exposed to him at the ripe age of 8 with the album Play, a memorable album for any Moby and even, I dare say, any progressive electronic music fan at the time of its release in 1999.

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Nicolas Jaar and friends Phaeleh  and Mount Kimbie absolutely killed in on Friday night. It was a much darker, more emotional show but the crowd ate it up and everyone grooved along. Tarik Barri provided some extremely aesthetically pleasing visuals as a backdrop. If you haven’t heard of Phaeleh, I highly recommend checking him out. His set was dark and moody, with extremely powerful bass reminiscent of an earlier era of dub. I had never heard of him before and was completely entranced. He slowly worked the crowd from silent and empty at the beginning of the night (it’s always hard to be the first opener) to everyone dancing and cheering for each successively larger drop. Nicolas Jaar killed it as expected, displaying his awesome musical prowess.

On Saturday, Flosstradamus joined some fellow Mad Decent label mates for some bone shaking trap that had the audience popping, locking, twerking, sweating, and above all having an absolute blast. They rocked the party in signature fashion, dropping hyped-up remixes of massive party jams from the world over. I had the feeling that a mosh pit could break out at any second and I was LOVING it. It was a cool experience to see the crowd getting exposure to some of the lesser known, but extremely talented Mad Decent crew.

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I could not have asked for a better way to end my Decibel experience than Zedd’s performance on Sunday night. I was expecting his smooth, musically vibrant hit tracks (he’s the son of two classically trained musicians and began playing piano at the age of 4)

but what I wasn’t expecting was a solid block of four or five euro-trap jams that had the crowd going nuts, accompanied by an absolutely brain-melting laser show.

He also dropped Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” and “Mercy” by Kanye West, stepping out of what I would assume would be his normal setlist to rock out with the crowd to some of their current favorites. It sounded like everyone in the building was singing along at times, and Zedd capitalized perfectly, silencing the music and letting the crowd carry on, allowing us to feel a part of the show as well.

All in all, we’d like to thank Decibel and ALL of the artists, be they musical, visual, or anything else, for an amazing week in Seattle. It was another great weekend for the growth and progression of all stages of EDM music, from the fans to those on stage. If you missed out this year, be sure to get yourself a festival pass next year as I’m sure it will continue its upward trend toward bigger and better things!

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