Who would have ever thought that on the 30th of December I’d be cruising down highway 64, soaking up all the beautiful nature that makes up the vast and incredible state of Kentucky. All for a Bass show organized by my buddy Justin. Most people wouldn’t drive seven hours to the town where Bassnectar was set to play his NYE 360 performance without a ticket to the event. But at the bottom of my heart, I knew it would all work itself out – I’ve had a lot of luck with buddies finding tickets to his shows for me. In this case, Cole from ATL hooked it up not only at the last Basscenter, but now for New Years as well. Much love brother. But what really mattered to me at the moment was catching an incredible group of Spicy Bois throwing down at the Official Pre-Party at Headliners Music Hall.
If you know the name Justin Fields, then you most certainly know what the deal is. This man is one of the main reasons that the Kentucky bass music scene is alive and thriving. I will never forget crossing paths with him at the 2017 edition of CLUSTXR Music Festival – he and I had a lot in common since we both hosted shows, liked weird music and did concert photography. One time this man even stayed at the Charlotte Sessions Lab during some nutty show with Space Jesus and Freddy Todd. Needless to say, Justin rules and so does the Kentucky EDM Family.
I pulled up to Headliners Music Hall with a huge smile on my face. I was moments away from experiencing my very first concert in the Bluegrass State. There’s nothing like your first show in a new territory in this massive country we live in. I’ve seen so much ever since I moved to Charlotte in 2013. Last year I visited twenty three states alone – so to end my decade and start it in a place where I was surrounded by so many greats friends and really nice people truly meant a lot to me. While I didn’t know anybody at the pre-party aside from Justin and Molokai, I ended up meeting a lot of kindred spirits who were all there early for the exact same reason. The Spicy Bois.
There were three incredible members of the Spicy Bois bouncing around on stage by the time I arrived to Headliners. Mlotik from Chicago, Cnopes from Wisconsin/Denver and Molokai from Kenosha. It was a true to heart Midwest Spicy Bois, low end rumble, alien calling card, TAKEOVER extravaganza. Last year, my partners and I hosted MeSo, Space Wizard, Angelic Root, Just John, Cnopes and shwiLLy. So it was nice catching some different sounds from Mlotik and Molokai who I had never seen perform in the past.
Mlotik made me feel like I discovered a new space suit that allows me to roam on the surface of Jupiter, thus paving a way for me to discover a new species of extraterrestrials who like to sing and get down to some weird sounds. Cnopes made me feel like I had been shrunk down into a tiny version of myself after replicating my body so that I could explore the inner workings of my mind. But Molokai… Molokai made me feel like every part of my body that made me human was just stripped so that I could be turned into a cyborg designed to travel around the world and constantly bump his sounds through the Hennessy speakers that were embedded into my core being. I really enjoyed the moment when Cnopes spotted me and my happy self front row, sporting my first run spicy tiedye Cnopes shirt. It made my heart happy hearing people left and right randomly yell out “Spicy Bois” in pure excitement and awe of what was unfolding before their very eyes.
Up next was a true legend from the distant lands of Vancouver, British Columbia. It had been a while since I had last witnessed the likes of Stylust Beats perform live. The first time I ever saw him drop massive bursts of wubs and bass like “Waddup” with Pigeon Hole or “Brexit” with Thelem was around this time three years ago, where he performed the same evening as California madman 12th Planet and Charlotte Riddim maestro, Crowell. But the vibe at Headliners was very different, and extremely special in its on way. I think it had something to do with the Canadian energy that was flowing in the air as I approached the end of the decade. That might sound a little weird, but in 2019 I made three Riddim related visits to Canada, so any slight reminder of our northern neighboring country makes me really happy. You could tell this man was excited to be rinsing out some tunes from his new Activated EP on that massive Headliners’ sound-system. What I really love about a Stylust performance is the amount of love and passion that this man puts into his craft! Whether he’s playing in a small club in Charlotte or a large festival in Canada, or even a special party in Kentuck, you can’t go wrong with this unique creator, folks!
Last but not least was the man of the hour, the wobbly prince of gutter music, the crafty Colorado sound bender better known as Jantsen! While I’ve had the opportunity to see this man rock out stages in Charlotte countless times, my favorite experience was in 2015 when I caught him and Dirt Monkey for the very first time in this tiny venue called the Rabbit Hole. There were probably only sixty or so people there, and they were performing in a little boxing ring themed stage where these two dancers name Ashleigh and Jenna would come up to move and groove to the wobbles. But to go from that intimate show in my city to an exhilarating, sold out crowd of bassheads in Louisville was quite the treat. I like seeing people I respect grow and prosper. Jantsen was rinsing some absolute fire as usual, but when he decided to play his infamous Bassnectar collab “What“, I realized that I absolutely needed to go to the 360 gathering. I got goosebumps all over my body, probably because I enjoy this tune so much. I absolutely love every experience I have undergone that surrounds any Bassnectar curated event. Like the boat parties in Atlantic City back in 2017.. those were insane! All of the sudden, those familiar lyrics by Estelle caught my attention – within seconds the whole crowd was yelling “I can be a freak, I can I can, be a freak … any day of the week.“
At some point during Jantsen’s set I did a big 180 swoop and looked directly behind me to see what was going on. A man named Bubba from Kansas City, Missouri looked me dead in the eyes and said “Funk Soul Brother” right after the familiar voice on Fatboy Slim’s tune yelled “right about now!” Then the tune changed its tempo tremendously and turned into a complete drum n bass banger. I didn’t think the energy in the room could have shifted any degree higher, but it did. Jantsen wouldn’t stop dishing out bass-bombs throughout the entirety of his performance. And if you’ve ever managed to catch Jantsen playing his infamous “Ice Cream Sound” collab with Dirt Monkey, then you can imagine how happy the entire room must have been whenever he dropped it for us. I mean it was now the final day of the decade, and were getting “ICE CREAM SOUND“. Talk about a special experience, to say the least. There was also a moment where some tune was saying “Shimmy shimmy ya, can you feel it?” Everyone started shouting back “Can you feel it!” at the top of their lungs. I really enjoyed that moment!
Remember how I said I walked in to the building only knowing Molokai and Justin, well I looked to my left and saw a familiar body bouncing up and down to the sound of Jantsen serenading the crowd. It was ZACH from Asheville! A man with the stature of an ancient Mongolian warrior who also has a mane similar to the most eloquent lion in the world (Simba). You might have seen him at your local Bassnectar function getting down and funky. After saying hello, I asked the homie if he knew anyone selling a ticket for 360. I mean honestly. I was all the way in Kentucky – I should have at least tried right? (My buddy Optimal Grime from Atlanta ended up finding me a ticket once again. Let me take a second to recognize all the dads out there who always look out for their sons and daughters in their most irresponsible moments of life. Thanks for spotting me pops!)
I met a lot of interesting people throughout the evening that I’d like to show some love to. Tiffany, the sponge-cake-hair colored queen from Nebraska who reminded me of my wonky two hour Space Jesus experience at the Bourbon Theater in Lincoln. Reilly, a super neat wook with an afro and curls and dreads from the great city of Boston who shared a deep appreciation for the Spicy Bois. This nice couple from Brooklyn who’s names escape me – while the girlfriend was explaining her job selling tickets to visit the Statue of Liberty, the boyfriend was hootin’ and hollering with some strangers about turning 30 years old. After the third time of saying that his birthday was tomorrow, I stopped her in her tracks mid story to let her know it was now 12:03 and that she should go congratulate her fella. Much love to Don Molokai who since then, has made his North Carolina debut with my brothers from Dirt Sounds and Tristan! He’s just as friendly as I expected him to be, and he’s got that non-producer swag that everyone can respect. We bonded over the New Glarus Spotted Cow beer and the simple pleasures of trolling Tristan for dubplates. If you know, you know. There was also this cool guy named Bradley who owns the Galaxy Bar in Louisville. I totally regret not stopping by his bar that weekend, and I’m making it a mission to go when I return! In the grand scheme of things, I had an incredibly special experience at my first Kentucky EDM Family function. Biggups Justin and hiw crew who worked so hard on making this show happen. Biggups Jantsen, Molokai, Mlotik, Cnopes and Stylust – biggups Bassnectar and most importantly biggups Headliners Music Hall and all of the staff and production squad for making this such a special night for all of us to remember. I hope to return for another night of wubs and Bass in the Derby City! Many blessings everybody.
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