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Favorite ThisStarscape Festival Review (Baltimore, MD): A dubstep point of view

Published: June 13, 2011

By: Taiga Koda

On June 4th thousands of partygoers, ravers, and electronic music aficionados gathered at the foot of the Key Bridge in Baltimore, MD for the thirteenth annual Starscape Festival. Starscape features five stages: the main stage for live bands and DJ sets, the Dance Tent for electro, the Steez Promo Bass Arena for drumstep and drum & bass, the Dub Nation Beach Stage for dubstep, and the Fort Stage for smaller artists. This year, the Dub Nation Beach Stage had a line-up that was hard to miss.

Zeds Dead, comprised of DC and Hooks, kicked off the heavy bass, opening their set with Emalkay’s “Fabrication.” The duo from Toronto, Canada (where they performed again later that night) played their remix of The Moody Blues’ “White Satin,” and Noisia’s remix of “Raise Your Weapon” by Canada’s number one export: Deadmau5. They closed their set with their rehashing of “Eyes on Fire” by Blue Foundation, a massive, bass-filled track.

Blue Foundation - Eyes On Fire (Zeds Dead Remix) 

Over at the Steez Promo Bass Arena, Terravita, mixed hip-hop with funky drumstep, making the crowd dance to their fast paced wobbles. Terravita is Matt Simmers, Jon Spero, and Chris Barlow, a trio from Boston, Massachusetts. “Up In The Club” and their remix of California Swag District’s “Teach Me How to Dougie” whipped the growing crowd into frenzy. If you’ve never heard of the group, keep an ear out because you’ll be hearing a lot more of their music in the future.

Minimix - Terravita

At 10 p.m., Datsik was brought at the Dub Nation Beach Stage to kick off the six-hour marathon of heavy bass. The Canadian dubstep producer mixed his older style of heavy ‘transformers’ dubstep with a newer, dancier style through unreleased tracks such as “Lightspeed” with Kill the Noise. He finished his set with a brand new collaboration with Bassnectar entitled “Elevate.”

Don Diablo ft. Dragonette- Animale (Datsik Remix)

Israeli dubstep producer Borgore hit the decks next. His set was filled with dirty bass and misogynist lyrics, and had the crowd singing along to “Act Like A Ho.” He dropped more of his signature tunes like “Guided Relaxation Dub,” but the former death-metal drummer also played “Chop Suey” by System of a Down and closed his set with Slipknot’s “Wait and Bleed.”

Sonny Moore, known in the dubstep world as Skrillex, followed Borgore on the Beach Stage. He opened his set with an unreleased track, and proceeded to command the dancing crowd with “Reptile,” “Ruffneck Bass,” his remix of La Roux’s “In for the Kill,” “Still Gettin It,” a collaboration with Foreign Beggars, and the Sub Focus remix of Rusko’s “Hold On.” When Skrillex played his remix of Benny Benassi’s “Cinema,” Steve Aoki joined him on stage and put the dancing DJ on his shoulders.

Next up was the much-anticipated Flux Pavillion, for his third performance in the United States, and he did not disappoint. He played “Lines in Wax,” “Got 2 Know (VIP),” “Haunt You,” “I Can’t Stop,” and “Bass Cannon.” Despite the sound system cutting out right before the drop to his remix of “Gold Dust” by DJ Fresh, Flux Pavillion commanded the crowd for his hour long set, and recovered nicely from the technical difficulty by starting the song over.

At 2:00 a.m. Canadian dubstep producer Excision provided an overdose of bass. Only one word can describe his style of dubstep: grimy. He started his set with the unreleased track, “X,” and dropped songs from his recent EP including “Existence VIP” and “Blue Steel.” He also dropped remixes of “Swagga,” starting with the Liquid Stranger Remix into the Neons Curveball Edit (see soundcloud link below). If you want to get a taste of his Starscape performance, download the X Sessions Vol. 1 on his Facebook page.

Excision & Datsik - Swagga (Neons Curveball Edit)

To finish the six-hour dubstep medley, Dr. P hit the decks. He dropped “Sweet Shop,” “Tetris,” his remixes of “Star” by Blame, Caspa’s “Marmite,” “Love Goes Down” by Plan B, and DJ Fresh’s “Louder.” The co-founder of Circus One Records kept the worn out crowd moving, despite being at the tail end of possibly the best dubstep lineup to ever hit the East Coast.

Beyond the lineup to die for, what makes Starscape one of the best festivals is the fact that everyone has a good time. It’s not a multiple day event where artists are spread out over two or three days, it’s a one-night party. But while the attendees enjoy themselves, the artists have as much fun as the crowd. During the six-hour dubstep procession, most of the artists were on stage supporting each other’s sets; if they were not at the Dub Nation Beach Stage, they were at other stages supporting the other genres. It’s through this type of camaraderie that artist collaborations are born. Starscape might be a small music festival, but it very may well be best one.

Tags: DubstepHardcoreDrum and BassElectroHouse