For the first time ever, I couldn’t sustain an event long enough to actually see the headliner (Baauer).
The only reason why I decided to attend this event was because as a writer, I’m intrigued about how certain genres of music are pounced on by corporate labels and turned into something completely different.
This sort of processing has taken place within blues, jazz, rock and roll, hip-hop, dubstep, and most recently trap. I would enliken this musical processing to sugar refining, in that raw sugar is taken and then turned into a finer and whiter product, but loses its flavour and texture.
Examples of this processing of “white music” include Jack Johnston and Elvis (blues), Bill Hallie (rock and roll), Eminem (hip-hop), David Guetta (house), Skrillex (dubstep), and now Baauer (trap).
The only music that seems to have escaped this processing has been reggae, perhaps because it is grounded almost inescapably in counter-culture, and because the movement’s key figure, Bob Marley, could not be imitated by white culture.
Popular music can be a vehicle that allows artists to gain money and fame, but at the cost of allowing other people a say in the creative process. When artists work with record labels, they give the labels the right to edit musical content for marketing to a broader audience.
This marketing becomes the number one priority, even before the music itself, as the broader audience must be able to understand it in context to themselves to see a reason for consuming it.
I thought that Baauer might somehow be exempt from this marketing interference, because his particular break came about differently. His music wasn’t constructed for broader consumption first, but rather became viral as the backing music for the youtube meme ‘Harlem Shake.’ Baauer’s ‘Harlem Shake’ went platinum in record time and he was now an international star.
I made an assumption that he pretty much made the same okay-ish trap music, as it was only viral clip – not a label’s music – that made him big stuff. However, I was to be let down at the overall show.
I entered Brown Alley/Rats at 11pm, because no set times were listed and I had to make sure I caught Baauer. It was apparently against Rats policy to show set times until the actual night. Baauer was listed at the club to be on 2am, which meant I had to hang around for three hours.
Personally, I think the set time policy was ethically questionable, and I assume that they only put it there so rats would sell more overpriced ($13 a pint) alcohol. Thus, overall intoxication is promoted here.
Because Baauer was on so late, it would mean that I would have to put up with the support DJs. They were absolutely horrendous. Rather than the night having a trap focus, the DJs elected to play an awful hodge-podge of americanised “EDM” rubbish.
Hard house, brostep and general ravey bubble-gum shit were all mashed together by the support in one pool of fluorescent aural vomit, with no atmosphere or continuity. If this music was a person, it would be one of those ray-ban fluoro-wearing kids with the obnoxious nasal voices who get way too drunk,eat shit food and smell like cheap perfume.
The support DJs were fake-twisting knobs whilst the tracks played out, but as so far as actual DJing was concerned, just relied on the million and one exaggerated build-ups on each track to “drop the bass” on the next one. They also played occasional halfway-credible tracks, which disgusted me further, as they destroyed the credibility of these tracks in proxy to the stench of the other tracks.
THIS was the reason that the mainstream media thinks all ravers are drugfucked, tasteless and annoying idiots; this was WHY most people think DJs are just hacks with no skill or taste in music. The reason was because it’s mostly true. We in the actual underground are trapped in our own bubble, still lamely insisting that electronic beats are in fact exceptional, when our more atmospheric and creative voice is drowned out by the overzealous whomps, glitches and sirens of pop EDM.
This pretty much confirmed to me that this pool was one and the same as the all-encompassing mass of “EDM” that attaches itself like a big fluorescent parasite to anything with vitamins and sucks it dry, and becomes even more fat and hideous. Through osmosis, this leech has now gained the external appearance of the original creature it sucked dry and is often mistaken as the original creature by people who haven’t seen it before.
Surrounded by children donned in glowsticks and pokemon costumes having it large on $5 jager cans, and assailed by a wall of ear-splitting frequencies and phat wobs, I was frozen in my bubble of erratic thoughts.
Did I actually have a problem with all my preconceptions of music, and why was I unable to just leave my brain at the door and do the Harlem Shake? Why did I have a problem with kids insisting that this was the best party ever, and why did I have to sneer and smirk like I was superior to all this? Wasn’t I young before and didn’t I used to have an awful taste in music?
I didn’t have any answers, but I knew that I wasn’t drunk, I was sick of incriminating children asking within earshot of bouncers if I had any “molly” (it’s really messed up when pimply 18-year-olds use ebonics with no sense of irony), and if I spent one more hour in this place, I would be strangling over-exuberant support DJs and cosplay kids.
I heard Baauer represented trap pretty sturdily despite being elevated to a pop platform, but the show was unfortunately rendered unattendable by the EDM disease that I couldn’t hang around to see his performance. I left at 1am, and my overall relief in escape to street ambience far outweighed the disappointment of seeing how far down the path Baauer was in his terminal pop infection. No real head could have stayed there.
BAAUER – GET OUT OF THE OCEAN BEFORE YOU LOSE YOUR SOUL TO THE KRAKEN.
Maybe he already has lost it and I am talking to the undead here.
Check out my original article on trap music and Harlem Shake here…