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A Strange Review: Manic Focus, Freddy Todd & Liquid Stranger Destroy Charlotte

      The christening of Charlotte’s newest venueThe Shed Amphitheater [at The Station House]—was an unforgettable adventure. Soma Entertainment, one of Charlotte’s leading promotional companies, got the Fall Rave seasons started with Kill The Noise in September – they’ve kept their tradition of bringing fire, quality,  events to the Queen City, as they geared up for a weird and wonderful evening that melted the minds of the Charlotte aliens who were rowdy enough to attend this special show. What other way to get a crowd full of QC bassheads together than to invite the Wakaan label owner himself—Liquid Stranger to throw down?! Merely ten days after that start of his Fall 2017 tour —The Hypercolor Tour— Martin Stääf ended his North Carolina adventure (after having hit up Asheville and Carrboro prior) by breaking in the outdoor venue with a night full of womps. Along his side he brought the beast from the Twin Cities, Manic Focus, and Fred Todd IV–the smooth Detroit beat maker known as Freddy Todd. The weather was calm, but there was a Bass storm brewing, and they don’t call it CharLit for nothing.

The Shed (Photo Credit: Charles Ryan Boozer)

      Before I ramble on about how amazing these guys are live, let me tell you a little something about this new venue. It’s so hidden, that you wouldn’t even know it existed if you were casually driving down the street looking for the new spot; but kudos to SOMA for bringing along a traffic director to guide us all to our party destination. Above anything else this venue was completely immersed in the great outdoors! The ticket booth was setup in a miniature RV, which gave an immediate grungy feeling to this new, mystical location. After checking in, you walk past these cute picnic tables and porch swings to eventually arrive to the best part of the venue – the stage, because without a stage, there is no music! There were vintage lights hanging all over (kind of like those cool lights you see on Pinterest, or in a hipster chick’s bedroom) and to complement the leisurely atmosphere, flow artists filled the open area and strutted their hoops, whips, and poi, which added to the artistic feel of this event. Tents were set up for guests to purchase merchandise; there were also beer booths set up on both sides of the venue. It was kind of like a mini-festival setup. (The Shed even has Port-o-Potties, thank goodness!) The stage was set up beside a highway bridge, and the pedestrian light-rail behind the parking lot just added more of a vintage aesthetic to the scene.

And now, on to the music. . .

     Michigan’s very own Freddy Todd kicked off the evening with his signature technical, groovy style – he made sure to leave Queen City left with an everlasting impression of his abilities. I wasn’t too familiar with the sounds of Freddy Todd before entering the bass packed realm that was The Shed, but he was a hell of a good act to warm up the night with! If you’re into alien sounds, experimental bass, and synthesizers that put your mind through a whirlwind, then you gotta check this marvelous producer out. Not only was I feeling his sound hardcore, but Todd got thoroughly involved with the crowd which added a pleasing social aspect to the show.  I can see why Liquid Stranger picked up the Detroit native to join Wakaan as the newest signed member. He fits in with the fluid bass corporation so well. As he was tweaking my brain cells, I looked around and noticed the crowd getting larger by each passing bassdrop. Throughout the night he performed several hits off his new Southfield LP that had the crowd in a daze. The whole audience was getting down hard when he dropped tracks like “Audible Edibles” and “Solar Hit.” I have to say, I was thoroughly impressed with Todd’s set as a whole.

Freddy Todd gnomin’ around (Photo credit: Rubyan Photography)

    Manic Focus brought some hard-hitting, beat-bumping, funky-fresh vibes!!  The amount of funk he brought to The Shed was limitless, and I was getting down to every song he dropped. During his set, I found my thoughts being led back GRiZ. I was about three rows back from center stage, and vibing hard as JmaC threw hands to Bumpin’ in the Voodoo.” The crowd went wild with excitement as we all shouted in unison: “Satisfaction!” just as loud as our diaphragms would allow us to. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Soul music, and Manic Focus brings Soul music to life. He was having just as much fun on stage as we were in the crowd! (I mean, he had a smile the ENTIRE time!) It was such a refreshing and uplifting set. So much happiness was brought together during his hour, and it was during this hour I was reminded why the bass community is the best community to be a part of–because we show love in all the right places.

Manic Focus looking suave (Photo Credit: Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival)

     And then it was time. . . The crowd was on the tips of their toes with excitement as the Swedish wonkmaster himself creeped his way to center stage. He introduced himself as such: “CHARLOTTE!!! My name is Liquid Straaangerrrr, and I am so happy to be back in this amazing city! I’m going to start out with some Reggae, but you guys know me…if you go hard, I’ll just go harder.” And harder he went!! Not even fifteen minutes into his set and BOOM – the speaker on the right side of the stage blew! Talk about popping a new venue’s cherry, right? Liquid’s wonkiness must have been too much to handle, but of course he continued to slay. The sound may have thrown the crowd off slightly, but I was still having such a good time that I tuned out the static and still raged as hard as I could.

Photo Credit: Bailie Oldham
Liquid Stranger at The Shed (Photo Credit: Bailie Oldham)

     My squad and I were to the floor wobbling when Liquid dropped “Don’t Stop.” Being one of his more popular songs, Martin put some extra freaky twists on it. I found myself bobbing back and forth singing along, as the fluidity of Liquid’s sound consumed each of my molecules. The time was going by far too fast, as it normally does on event days, but I picked up on an old favorite of mine as Martin dropped it – Kai Wachi’s “Demons.” And it was at this particular moment that a fire-spinner lit up her fans and moved her flames in unison with Liquid’s music. Of course he couldn’t forget to bless us with “Spaceboss” – a master-collab he produced with the almighty Space Jesus.  I found myself literally squatting like a frog headbanging until the set came to an end.


     Just when I thought it was all over, Liquid invited Manic Focus and Freddy Todd back on stage for a ridiculous back to back. He was communicating heavily with the crowd as the three took turns ripping beats and shredding brains. Todd claimed the decks as and Martin proclaimed, “this is a Freddy Todd original, and this shit goes hard.” (To whoever attended this event and can tell me the name of that song, please let me know because that was gnarly!) The back to back was a special moment, and the three closed out with a wonky-alien-vibesesh version of Manic Focus’ (feat. ProbCause) “Putting All My People On,” which just so happens to be one of my favorites!


     All-in-all, the show was a fabulous time. The lights were beautiful, and despite the sound complication, the outdoor venue has so much potential. I give props to The Shed because this was their very first show, and I look forward in seeing who else they invite to slay there. Wakaan is really outdoing itself as a record label, and I give a big ‘Thank You’ to Liquid Stranger for keeping the alien-party alive throughout the night. I’m anxious for another good time at the next wonky event held in [the always beautiful] Queen City.



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Peace, Love, and Unicorns,


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