Driving from Tacoma to Seattle on Wednesday for the beginning of this year’s Decibel, I can barely contain my happiness. I’ve been buzzing from the release of Cate McGehee’s article in the Seattle Weekly, feeling as if my heart is going to beat right out of my chest if I don’t get myself to the beautiful city up north that is home to my extended music family. Cruising on the I-5 North listening to Sea/Tac producers Fugal, Conduit, Aos, and Basin from a playlist embedded in the article is not all that has me excited for this evening–I get to see Tin Man perform again tonight, after he changed the way I think about music and shows at last year’s Decibel. Memories of folks young and old grooving out to slow-burning acid tracks at Rebar float around my brain as I listen to the preview of Aos’ “Limerence” for the umpteenth time.
For the 12th edition of Decibel, up-and-coming collective ‘secondnature’ (yes, it’s one word) has organized a showcase of music at The Crocodile, featuring Tin Man, Cassegrain, Archivist, and Josef Gaard, the latter of whom are secondnature producers/DJs that have received attention from Resident Advisor, as well as from world-class acts like Lucy and Eric Cloutier. Tonight is the debut of Josef Gaard’s live set, and the rest of the artists at this showcase are performing live as well (a refreshing change of pace, even for a lover of DJ sets like myself).
Upon entering the venue, Josef Gaard is walking on-stage and getting ready to play out–I ditch the idea of purchasing a beer, and weave my way in between the sea of human bodies to make it up to the front. Looking as handsome as ever, Josef plays some beautiful ambient sounds before dropping a weighty kick, programmed at around 80 BPM. To my pleasant surprise, the sound at Crocodile is really delivering tonight, and each thud sends electricity through the room. As Josef’s hands deftly touch knobs and buttons, the track evolves and I am compelled to sway my body. Throughout his live set, I feel like I am on a canoe moving slowly through a murky, foggy swamp–but I never feel hopeless, as if this techno swamp-ride is taking me somewhere that I need to be, somewhere light and beautiful that I always knew existed, but have forgotten.
After Josef, Archivist takes the stage, proudly displaying a KUPS sticker on his laptop.
Having arrived back in Seattle only a few days ago from gigs in Montreal and New York, Archivist launches into his tracks, which are fluid, tight pieces of sound, laced together to make techno that is sturdy, yet somehow funky, and confident in its execution. Archivist is not afraid to move his hips as he sequences, and it makes me feel even more present during the performance.
Cassegrain is up next, delivering a relentless set of hypnotic, rumbling sounds. Watching the duo bring their focused energy while communicating to each other during sections of the performance is exhilarating.
The dynamic of the crowd is indescribable when Tin Man gears up to play. Following a round of applause and cheers, he begins his performance, playing beautifully produced tracks with some acid influences, albeit at a higher tempo than last year’s set.
Tin Man’s music is simultaneously hard-hitting and smooth, and captures the attention of every single person in the room. As I make my way outside for a cigarette, I observe that even folks in the very back of the venue by the bar are dancing. (During this smoke break, I have a lovely conversation with Cassegrain about the welcoming, supportive feel of Seattle’s electronic music scene, and they ask to wear my wig, posing for a picture taken by local head Alex Carrabba). As I weave my way through the crowd to get back to the front, Tin Man drops some heavy, gorgeous house chords and the crowd absolutely loses it. Looking around at the folks dancing in The Crocodile brings a smile to my face that I can’t get rid of, even after leaving the venue halfway through Tin Man and Cassegrain’s amazing collaborative set to get some sleep for the next day’s Decibel festivities. Stay tuned for our coverage of the Bottom Forty showcase with The Black Madonna!