Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Two music idiots ask: "What the hell is dubstep anyway?"

"Dubtep is robot dinosaurs fighting with lasers," random guy at Burning Man.

Music is a big part of Burning Man. For reasons unknown to me, the vast majority of the offerings are various sorts of electronica. The meager live music offerings are dwarfed by large theme camps offering dj music. It's important to note that the Burning Man organization does not bring, host or promote any of the artists. It's all done by theme camps interesting in hosting a huge free dance party in the dessert.
For the first time, I was camped with a electronic music expert who alerted us electronic idiots on when the world famous artists will be spinning the latest dubstep.
Dubstep expert
As we came to learn, dubstep is all the rage. (If you aren't already, you should be playing the clip above). Following our music expert's instructions I listened to several artists people pay good money to hear including bassnector and Opiuo. That often meant lasting until 3 a.m. But while I knew they were spinning dubstep, I didn't have the foggiest idea what defined dubstep.
As we sat in the queue to leave Black Rock City after a week of excess, (exodus the bane of Burning Man) Princess Fussy Pants asked me, "What is dubstep anyway?"
"A series of beep and twerps," I replied, to a laugh. But what is dubstep really?
Given the fact that we had hours of mind sapping traffic to clear, we decided to ask our fellow automotiveinmates. Below is a list of responses from other waiting to leave the incredibility enjoyable and exhausting festival. Some went for humor, some aficionados gave us a clear thoughtful response.
  • "Dubstep is robot dinosaurs fighting with lasers." 
  • "You know when your in the jacuzzi and you put your head under water by the jet? That is dubstep."
  • "Pitch driven base line -- kind of a wobble. Beeps and twerps are more electro house."
  • "It's all about the whoop. Baseline of whoop, more dynamic that house or techno. Wah, wah, wah, wah."
  • "drug music."
  • "Don't know -- I'm not a fan."
  • This one super knowledgeable, not so articulate fan said it has something to do with a "double oscillating base" related to reggae and two step -- hence the name. 
  • "It's doing a hit of nitrous by the speakers."
  • "70 beats per minute sounds like doom ... do dat -- doom doom do dat."
If that doesn't want to make you run out to shill out $100 to see bassnector spin I don't know what will. Please share your impressions of Dubstep or call me a idiot below.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Burning Man is for Doers

Burning Man participants bike near "The Man"
Amateurs try their hand at basic trapeze maneuvers 
A shot ski goes down in the middle of the desert.
Why I go to Burning Man

It's cliché to say Burning Man has to be experienced to be understood, but in many ways its true. (If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is experiencing it firsthand worth?)  That said, I will attempt to explain why I attend Burning Man.
People fit into one of two groups: watchers and doers.
Watchers will critique a flash mob, but won't organize one, show up to the costume party, but don't take risks and are the last ones to go skinny dipping.
I choose to be a doer.
I guess I've been a doer most of my life. I was more or less involved in student government since grade school, was a union official at work and have served on various boards throughout my adult life. I love that Burning Man celebrates doing. 
Burning Man is not a city. City's can sustain themselves for more than a week. But Burning Man is a community. A community of people that say yes, that take risks, that participate.
For those who know little of the annual week-long experiment in the Nevada desert, Burning Man invites attendee to shed their normal governors on what to wear and how to act. It turns the show or the festival inside out and asks the guests to be the show. Some invite world class disk jockeys to perform, some create a (free) full-functional bar (minus the bathroom), some teach acrobatics, others offer massages classes, other erect beautiful works of art.
Just about the only thing the event offers beyond structure, gatekeepers, port-a-potties, ice and a few classes is a large wood "Man" that of course burns.
One could run themselves ragged, trying to do a quarter of the pre-planned event. Conversely, one could stumble on the perfect day by setting out on your bike and exploring the a dozen or so of the unmapped, unscheduled events planned and executed by people just like me -- doers.