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Favorite ThisDo Werk: Tales from the Werk Out

Published: September 16, 2010

Article By: Anand Harsh

Photos By: B. Hockensmith

I am probably the worst festival attendee in history.  I get all the way out to Bellefontaine, OH, about an hour northwest of Columbus, arrive at the Zane Shawnee Caverns—and what do I do?  I see zero caverns and zero Shawnee (unless you count the dude in the headdress and patchwork cords).  Funky Bean Productions and The Werks collaborated to throw the Werk Out on what was promising to be a drizzly, miserable weekend.  Miraculously, it poured for about 40 minutes on Saturday, and the grounds didn’t even get too muddy.

Zoogma took the main stage during the late afternoon, well after the rain was done making its threats.  A few rays of sunlight even slipped through the clouds during the Memphis, TN quartet’s set.  Dropping the familiar strains of Radiohead’s “National Anthem,” Zoogma eased into their set, comprised of equal parts ambient trip-hop, trance, and breaks.  Their track “Primary Colors” runs through that exact progression, taking on Eastern melodies with a evocative sitar line.  “Okami” begins sweetly enough with a rollicking house , but then soars into an anthemic power rock explosion, replete with metal guitar licks and thudding bass.  In a genre full of pedestrian noodling and jams headed hurtling down the highway to Nowheresville, Zoogma definitely brings something interesting and fun to the table.

This being my eighth or ninth EOTO set of the summer, one would think all the beans have been spilled.  There’s absolutely nothing Michael Travis and Jason Hann could do to surprises me.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  The duo launched into some of their dirtiest, low-down dubstep of the season.  The wobble wasn’t predictable, it was melodic and flowing, evidence of an evolution in a genre that should have already had its time in the sun.  As the jams progressed, EOTO found a way to split the difference precisely between untz and whomp—a modern miracle!  No matter how many times I see them, I’ll never stop being impressed with the non-stop sonic assault, this time clocking in at just over two hours.  If the Werk Out wasn’t such a tight ship, I could seem them going for another couple.  

EP3 took off on the adjacent stage as EOTO’s last strains faded.  The southern quartet grabbed the reins and pushed full throttle through some blistering four-on-the-floor jam-house.  Without hesitation, the crowd rotated 45-degrees and started getting down all over again.  EP3 is still gaining ground through relentless touring and an aesthetic understanding of what gets sweaty, twenty-somethings off.  While they are still trying to find their signature sound, EP3 has improved significantly, and fits their livetronica moniker well.

The Werks are no doubt the premier Ohio festival attraction.  While they are known to drop some trancey jams throughout their sets, a lot of that type of groove was forgone for the sake of a lot of straight-up rock and roll, especially when Johnny Neel (of Gov’t Mule and Allman Brothers fame) joined in.  Which of course is fine; I love rock and roll.  Put another dime in the jukebox, baby.

I’m going to put this as plainly as possible: the person who thought up the dubstep tent—in the midst of some sort of feverish nightmare, no doubt—is a genius.  The blasts of sound emitting from that backwoods hellhole were so soul-crushing, I could barely catch my breath, let alone dance (but I did).  I’m not entirely certain about the number of DJs I caught.  Seamless switches led the bass wobble into the daylight hours.  I do remember Prophet Massive (a.k.a. Jason Hann) dropped into Eye of the Tiger at the beginning of his set, ran through some of the biggest dub tracks from across the world, and then slammed it home with some filthy NiT GriT.

Consider again, that there were little more than a thousand people attending this festival, and reflect on the sheer number of electronic acts.  That says a lot about not only the changing state of music at these big music and camping productions, but also about the tenacity of the organizers to go out and get as many electronic acts as they could to thrill the audience and keep them begging for more.  Take a page from Funky Bean Productions and The Werks, no matter how small the festival, keep that electronic presence up.

Tags: LivetronicaDubstepElectroHouseTrance