Over the past nine years, Seattle’s Decibel Festival has established itself as one of the premier purveyors of forward thinking electronic music in the world. While not quite as recognizable as names like Sonar or MUTEK, Decibel’s focus on live performance and technology, both through its panels and showcases, has elevated it to revered status among fans and artists alike. Like any festival, the lineup poses many difficult choices, but because Decibel is held at venues across the city, discerning festival attendees usually have to choose one or two events to hit a night. To possibly aid your decision making process, we’ve chosen the five showcases that we are most excited about. Of course, it’s impossible to predict which showcases will be the biggest hits and there will certainly be more than a few surprises. With legends like Carl Craig, Orbital, DJ Shadow and Erykah Badu’s Cannabinoids project on the bill, as well as a special visit from The Boiler Room, it is sure to be a special five days. And to be honest, you can’t really go wrong with any of the dB showcases. Without further ado, our recommendations…
Beat Prodigies Presented By LFTF Feat. Dabrye, Samo Soundboy, Kid Smpl, Keyboard Kid and Katie Kate (Wednesday September 26 @ Barboza 21+)
Unsurprisingly, the good folks at Live For The Funk have put together one of the most diverse, eccentric showcases of the entire festival. Beat Prodigies is headlined Beat scene legend and Dilla disciple Dabrye who has laid low for the the past half-decade. The Detroit native has only released one EP (as James T. Cotton), but his left-field sampleology still sounds as fresh as ever. Samo Soundboy is the founder of Body High and one of the foremost purveyors of American club music. His latest release, the 5 Dollar Paradise EP, is an exhibition in acid sounds bridging the TR-303 with contemporary club sounds that should light a fire under the Barboza dancers. Contrasting the upbeat hip hop and club sounds of the two headliners, Kid Smpl will bring the Night Bus vibes to the club. Rounding out the lineup are Keyboard Kid and Katie Kid. Expect tempos to swing wildly throughout the showcase and be prepared to vogue.. or whatever you do.
Find our Thursday-Sunday recommendations after the jump…
Dropping Gems Showcase Feat. Balam Acab, Devonwho, Natasha Kmeto, DJAO (Thursday September 27 @ Barboza 21+)
Barboza, the relatively new venue, underneath Seattle mainstay Neumos seems to be the place to be on the first two days of Decibel. Thursday night sees one of our favorite labels taking over and they’re bringing some special guests along for the ride. If you’re looking to escape the worlds of House and Techno, look no further than the Dropping Gems Showcase. Label stalwarts Natasha Kmeto and DJAO are sure to impress as are Balam Acab (with his full Live A/V setup) and Devonwho ( check out our interview here). Furthermore, the Dropping Gems crew have perfected the art of event production and been a huge part of Decibel for the past few years.
DB and Surefire Boat Party Feat. Starkey, Eprom, Ginz, B. Bravo, Danny Corn and Tyler Tastemaker (Friday September 28 @ The Islander Cruise Ship 21+)
What’s better than a cruise across picturesque Lake Union and Lake Washington on a beautiful Fall afternoon? Being on that same cruise with American bass icons Eprom and Starkey providing the tunes. Take off Friday afternoon and embark on this beats and bass filled adventure. Both Eprom and Starkey are vanguards of a wonky new club sound that defies description, but is easy as fuck to get down to. Be sure to get your Regis Chilbin on.
Hotflush Showcase Feat. Sepalcure, George Fitzgerald and Braille (Saturday September 29 @ The Baltic Room 21+)
Hotflush Recordings, helmed by Paul Rose aka Scuba, is one of the few labels I repeatedly come back to and I am rarely, rarely disappointed with their output. With an emphasis on bass, Hotflush has broken ground mainly in the realms of dubstep, techno and house with releases from Mount Kimbie,, Jimmy Edgar, Joy Oribison and more. Sepalcure, the duo made up of Praveen Sharma and Machinedrum, will bring their malleable style of bass music to The Baltic Room in style. Expect plenty of 90’s House-esque vocals mixed into a whole new production paradigm. George Fitzgerald and Braille provide more than capable support.
Friends of Friends Showcase Feat. Shlohmo, Salva, Groundislava, Jerome LOL and Lazy Brow (Sunday September 30 @ The Baltic Room 21+)
Like every other night, Sunday brings plenty of difficult choices and I’m having trouble advocating for anything other than John Talabot at the DB Finale, but I just got to go with what I know. Since we started The Astral Plane in January, Friends of Friends artists have appeared in our posts more than any other label/crew/collective. The FoF showcase highlights everything the label has to offer, from Shlohmo’s caked up take on dance music and Groundislava’s sunny synthesizer anthems to Lazy Brow’s take on deep house and disco. LOL Boys were supposed to perform, but due to their splitting up 😦 , Jerome LOL will take the stage instead. Check out Groundislava and Young Adults’ recent sets at The Boiler Room for a taste of what the Showcase will bring.