Wobbleland 2011: The Factory - San Francisco, CA - 01/22/11
By Summer Li
Saturday night in San Francisco, Vital SC put on the largest dubstep event and the first of its kind in Northern California: Wobbleland, featuring some of the biggest names right now in bass music including Nero, Skrillex, Datsik, 12th Planet, Jakwob, and Kastle. The two-stage venue called The Factory was just the right size to form an energetic dance mass while preserving the intimacy with the performers.
The Factory was better ventilated than most for such a small and packed venue and the side stage had many different entrances to allow people to easily move between the stages, crucial for the above lineup. There were so many time conflicts but it was much appreciated when Nero dropped Skrillex’s remix of “In For The Kill” as a tribute to Sonny Moore who was spinning at the exact same timeslot in the other room. If you had to miss Skrillex to see Nero, at least you got to listen to some Skrillex. Everyone was satisfied. One of the greatest things about the venue, however, was free water at the bar. They came in cups but there were also free refills if you chose to buy a bottle instead. This not only saved people a lot of money, but was also a much safer way to have a good time at sweaty dance parties that are conducive to dehydration.
Never in my life have I listened to so much dubstep in one sitting (or standing, in this case). It was truly incredible to be surrounded by a niche, enthused by a single subgenre of EDM because we all knew we had that this in common. As I partook in this event, I realized a few things about the genre that may be changing the scope of electronic music. First of all, dubstep remixes, like mashups and the age of Girl Talk, have become a novel and cooler way of listening to popular music without losing any street cred. Specifically during Jakwob’s set on the main stage, many remixes of current top 40 hits were played. Yet, at a party like this, there is no way dropping Rihanna would be acceptable unless, however, it was layered with the violent basslines and chainsaw noise. Then it becomes dope. And I’m talking about Rihanna here. Dubstep remixes of virtually any other melody gets away with this.
What was more prevalent in this event than others I had been to were the number of repeated tracks. True, how many original and new dubstep can they really play in seven consecutive hours, 14 if you combine both stages? But honestly, I did not mind any of the repeats because they were some of the best tracks in the genre including “I Need Air” by Magnetic Man and Sub Focus’s remix of “Hold On” by Rusko. Even Nero themselves played “Innocence” more than once and two DJs dropped the original hip hop classic “Next Episode” each followed by mind-numbing remixes of their own choice.
The popularization of dubstep is leading to what seems like the re-popularization of drum & bass and I cannot wait for its second coming. Dubstep is essentially drum & bass in half-time and this is the reason why many veteran drum & bass producers such as Chase & Status, Sub Focus, Spor (under the alias Feed Me), and even Nero can easily switch and interchange between the two genres. Almost every one of the DJs that I had seen at Wobbleland played drum & bass segments, switching up the rhythm before the entire night drifts into monotony. The drum & bass interludes were refreshing, bumping the pace and intensity of the dancefloor. These were the few times when everyone stood somewhat erect and jumped up and down. Drum & bass lifted the music and it was nice to have those contrasts.
By 1:30 AM, all of our necks were already sore from head-banging for the past few hours, especially after a straight hour and a half of Datsik, the darkest and heaviest set of the night. There wasn’t any time to breathe or talk to your friends during his entire set, but that was exactly what we all needed and expected of the young Canadian producer. One drop after another, my friends and I found ourselves swerving lower and lower, making the ugliest possible faces to each other in both disgust and awe at the bass lines. The last two sets of the night were a great change from the sets before it. Nero played ambient intros and melodic breakdowns in between heavy drops, allowing the crowd to rest for a bit. Skrillex’s set was the most fun, however, because it was a medley a variety of different genres including dubstep, drum & bass, electro house, and progressive house, an accurate reflection of Skrillex’s uncategorizable music. Nero ended their set with Flux Pavilion’s “I Can’t Stop”, but eventually the lights turned on and security pushed us out. This was well after 3 AM.
If your necks have recovered and are ready for more dubstep, check out the Excision Subsonic Tour in San Francisco with Downlink and Antiserum.
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