Decibel Music Festival Live Review

Consensual Good Times | Seattle’s Decibel Festival Live Review | September 23-27, 2015

by • October 10, 2015

Friday’s eleven hours of travel with two flights landed me in downtown Seattle and started the beginning of many wild rides. After a quick nap and a change of clothes, I was off and running (more of walking on a steep incline) into the nightlife that was Seattle’s 2015 Decibel Festival.

Friday night featured Resident Advisor’s showcase at The Showbox, a venue that was impeccable with preserved Art Deco columns highlighted with red lights, multiple viewing (and drinking) levels circling the large, open dance floor, and ample stage. The idea of finally seeing Autechre after being a fan for twenty years was enough to get me out to Decibel; with the additions of Laurel Halo, my personal IDM/Noise heroine, I was hooked.

CYGNUS and Rob Hall set off the night with stunning visuals and glitchy, deep house quality enough to be the future soundtrack of a Hackers remake (if it ever happens). Laurel Halo’s set was a complete juxtaposition: all hardware, tabletop set-up and house lights. No fancy gimmicks were needed. The crowd, not hanging on for a cliche bass drop, anticipated the moment when finely textured, electronic layers and deep bass centered on recognizable, danceable lines. The live performance was unique with glimpses of her recent album, In Situ. Though not well known during the performance, Laurel Halo left a lasting impression on those in attendance.

Photo by Natália Silva

Laurel Halo (Photo by Natália Silva)

Last up was Autechre. I won’t give too much away for those planning on seeing the duo in Orlando at the Social on October 10. Bring an open mind, a good set of earplugs, and maybe a flashlight. You won’t be disappointed seeing these legends live. After being up for 28 hours straight and meeting my idol, I was satisfied with the course of the evening.

Saturday I was out again, this time to the Triple Door. The sold out, cerebral line up featured Dasha Rush and Tim Hecker. Press was corralled into a holding area upstairs with glass panels obscured by large tables with piped in music. It wasn’t the same experience as those below sitting in darkness outlined by neon blue booth seating. I made the most of the situation with two local press folks. The three of us climbed under the tables, perched and balanced in our own blanket fort. We got cozy together watching the cinematic, swirling visuals of moon phases and desolate forests projected behind Dasha Rush’s precision electronic set.

Decibel Music Festival Live Review

Dasha Rush (Photo by +Russ)

During Tim Hecker’s performance a bout of FOMO (fear of missing out) struck. With four other venues getting started, it was essential for me to hit up as many Decibel Fest events as possible. I wandered lost through Seattle Center for two hours (not intentional but definitely welcomed for the views), then hailed a Lyft to Q Nightclub.

Miami clubs could learn from this place, modern white interior with every available surface receiving a full digital wash. Justin Jay delivered relentless beats that didn’t let up and neither did the enthusiasm of the dance floor. Danced off my feet by 1:30AM with 20 new friends and no unwelcomed touches, I wrapped up the night before Seattle’s 2AM last call.

Sunday was final night to see and hear it all. The most anticipated event of Decibel Festival had to be that of Thievery Corporation at The Showbox – Sodo (not to be confused with The Showbox previously mentioned). Like most of their fans, Thievery Corporation is progressive lounge music I stream while working or relaxing. Seeing the live show was a multi-dimensional experience with two drummers, duel electronics, and many featured vocalists/emcees. I genuinely got the most feels from “The Heart’s a Lonely Hunter” with Frank Mitchell subbing for David Byrne and the encore of “Heaven’s Going to Burn Your Eyes” featuring Natalia Clavier.

Decibel Music Festival Live Review

Natalia Clavier of Thievery Corporation (Photo by Sarah Capps)

Still on a (natural) high from the show, I had to hit one more location. After a series of ride-share hops, I managed to find the unofficial after-party at Re-bar for one last chance to dance to trance and house.

Though I was saddened that I wasn’t able to attend any of the conference offerings (some were recorded and can be found here), I was relieved that Decibel Festival was coming to end, mostly because I wasn’t sure if my body, or ears, could have handled any additional non-stop clubbing.

Decibel Music Festival Live Review

I want to give a huge shout out to db Fest organizers for making all events inclusive and safe. I didn’t have to make the choice of pants vs dress while seeing shows and exploring a new city. The consent cards made it easy to say no, I kept one as a memento. Also, additional props for showcasing women artist that rarely get the same type of stage exposure as their male counterparts. The 2015 Decibel Festival was a truly world-class electronic experience that made sure it’s guests got the same, consensual treatment.

Decibel Festival Live Review by Sarah Capps.

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