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Every time I sat down to think about the meaning of What Next Ohio the concept of cycles kept popping into my head. As a historical sociologist, I am prone to look at the world through the lens of the patterns & cycles I identify across time. Questions of the similarities and differences in how people organized and built the scene, the events they produced, & the collective ideas that bound them together across time are infinitely interesting to me, but also very important for how we view and frame ourselves as a scene.  For this reason, I think the history of our scene from its origins to today affords us a toolkit of ideas and lessons that will allows us to understand why What Next Ohio marks a break in the cycle of how we think about our scene and highlights the take the next step we should take in building the best scene in the world.

What Next Ohio pointedly drew on the historical toolkit of Columbus dance music and crafted an event that presented how our scene today has continued to build on the legacy of the foundational actors that built the Columbus dance music scene in the 1980’s and 1990’s. This is one of the big reasons I was such a huge proponent of the event. Not because I think this event was in any way qualitatively superior to the other events going on in the city (Such value judgements really aren’t useful at all),  but because it sought to intimately connect our present scene to the history we all share.

What Next Ohio represents an explicit return to our historical backdrop. Since Columbus became a hub of creativity in music and arts, the artists that reside here have always had a chip on their shoulder and sought to hold down their city. Our new strength in expressing the “Columbus for Life” idea is just the most recent manifestation of a historical idea that has always existed in the dance community in our city.  In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the DJs from crews like ele_mental were pushing the boundaries of dance music and night after night. yet, they didn’t just seek to be on par with the artists from hubs like Chicago & Detroit. These mavericks wanted to OUT PERFORM and OUT PRODUCE the biggest acts from the biggest markets. They wanted to push the envelope artistically, while pushing each other.

Though united together in one community, the Columbus dance community has always wanted to be recognized as better than the biggest hubs in dance music. We always wanted to be better than Detroit and Chicago in the 80’s and 90’s, and that desire pushed us in many cases to produce techno, trance, house, & drum n’ Bass artists that was more creative and better than the stuff coming out of those so called “Big Markets”. What Next Ohio represented a call to arms for both fans and artists of our community to harken back to this time period and adopt the same confidence and resolve that those people that came before us had. We are at the point now where creativity is spilling out everywhere in our scene and its time for us to push the envelope and show the world that we are BETTER than London, Berlin, Miami, New York, L.A., Las Vegas. Its not just about building a scene that is on par with these cities, but building one that is better.

Some out there will instantly laugh this idea away. They will instantly say, “What do you mean? You have no big clubs, You have no capital, you no widescale press coverage, etc etc. How will you build a huge scene in the middle of Ohio?” They will list the same indicators they believe represent a thriving and successful music scene and point to the big markets as the artistic trailblazers. They will question us, as they always have done. Yet, they don’t define what our scene will be. WE DO.  I want to openly question these indicators and propose to all of you out there that this so called “pipe dream” is no so far from being a reality. We have something that many dance music scenes have long lost: autonomy and a chip on our shoulder. We want to prove to the world that we are better and we aren’t afraid to do it ourselves. For those of us knee deep in the scene, it is this very idea that WE ARE BETTER that drives us to carve out time each day to write, produce, listen, and build a community. True to the Do-It-Yourself tradition, we have never waited for capital from huge promotion companies, nor have we waited for big DJs to highlight our scenes strength. These simple facts have been true in the 80’s, 90’s, and all the way until our most recent resurgence since the early 2000’s. Columbus has always DONE IT ALONE with a quarter of the resources that other scenes had. We built one of the best scenes in the country in the 90’s with nothing. Why can’t we do it again today? We certianly are already on the way. Don’t be afraid to exclaim such ideas openly today. We can be bigger and better if we stay together, believe in our dream, and continue to push each other.

What Next Ohio was a testament to this collective hope for the future of our scene. Through a careful curation of the diverse sounds that make up our scene, the innovators at Sweatin’ highlighted a cross section of the artistic movement that aims to put Columbus on the map in dance music. It showed that we are on the cutting edge of dance music, and as the beats pummeled us at the newport the simple fact that WE ARE BETTER than every scene in the world was exclaimed proudly. The show revealed our historical origins and showed that just like originators of our scene we too can create the best scene in the world out of our collective will. If you don’t believe me, just get a taste for what happened at the show. Take the genre blasting of TEXTBEAK that is encapsulated in this video recording of his AMAZING set:

Or the amazing originals that FUNERALS played for the first time live:

Take the deep house of Dustin Knell, or the experimental tracks of Shin Tower Music. Take the hard driving industrial techno/electro of Dirty Current, or the pummeling bass of Hot Mess. Take the Bass innovations of Burgle or Cassius Slay and you come to the simple conclusion that we don’t need to be afraid to think our scene is one of the best in the world. I know I walked away not scared to exclaim this basic truth, and I charge you to not be afraid to push yourself and others to embrace this key idea. I know from this point forward every time we come together this basic truth will propel me to view our events, our DJs, our artists in a very different way then I did before.

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Last night Tony DeSaro, Aaron Austen, Evan Evolution, & Gareth Emery played the bluestone and brought the distinctive sounds of trance, progressive, and electro to Columbus.  For one night, we had these sounds, not often spun in Columbus, pummeling one of my favorite venues in the city.  Unfortunately, a prior engagement made me miss DeSaro, Austen, & Evolution’s sets. I was upset, because I had been looking forward to seeing these guys a lot, and didn’t know if Emery was going to bring the same energy as our local cats are known to. Often, this is the case as our local DJ’s are the highlight of many events where the headliner doesn’t bring the same vibrant enthusiasm for spinning. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised.  Emery DESTROYED the Bluestone with his dark, gorgeous trance/progressive/electro sound.

“On A Good Day” was the pinnacle of the set for me. Its my favorite track of his, and it was wonderfully placed after his originals “Into the Light” & “Sanctuary”. This led to an incredibly emotional ending to the set for me, as I was fully immersed in the music and people around me.  It epitomizes the beauty and love that was permeating through the crowd. There was just an amazing energy that the entire crowd was sharing, as we all experienced that moment together.

No doubt DeSaro, Austen, & Evolution had set up this moment for the crowd wonderfully by bringing everyone together and helping them emerge from their shell to become one community under the beat. Joey Pigg, a burgeoning local VJ, also had a hand in this as well. He brought us amazing imagery throughout the night that acted as the visual accompaniment on our sonic journey. It was these images, acting in unison with the beats, that I saw breaking down the barriers in peoples inhibition. 

People all around me were letting go and just losing themselves in the moment. Many people fear such letting go, as it is new and dangerous when you are so used to be rewarded for following any number of rules or paths that will lead you to “Success”. Yet, when you open yourself up to other ways of living it can be incredibly powerful. Last night was no exception. I saw people taking their first tentative dance steps towards release from their stresses and worries. I know I was able to lose myself in those moments in ways I had never been able to before. I had a truly special experience with everyone around me and celebrated with new and old friends alike.

No doubt this was faciliatated by the love I have been experiencing from all the people in our scene. People from every corner of our city have welcomed me with open arms and shown and taught me so much. I feel that love in our weeklies, monthlies, and in our huge superstar DJ sets.  I hope you see how creative, loving, and productive our scene is. We are reppin’ our city every time we hold a show, take a picture, create a video, produce a mix or song, or dance our hearts out. These acts, as I argued yesterday in my post calling us to reconsider the act of going to a show (READ HERE), build our community and bond us together!!! Let’s continue this process, rally around one another, and continue to remind everyone in our country why COLUMBUS is one of the INTEGRAL HUBS of EDM in the United States. It certainly was in the 1990’s and it is fast regaining that status today.

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The sets I heard on Saturday at Juicy: Gobble reinforced the dark, ominious, and bass driven aesthetic at the core of our scene, but also featured beautiful progressive build ups and novel track selection from often unheard genres. As a huge fan of variety, spontaneity, and carefully constructed drops, this night of music was really special for me. I found myself screaming at the top of my lungs at numerous points, but not only at the unrelenting bass or screaming synth I am accustomed to be moved by. I also screamed out in appreciation for the risks being taken by each DJ to express who they were through meticulous crate diggin’ and the patience to build a soundscape before they destroyed it with a drop. If Juicy: Gobble was any indication of where we are as a scene, I think we are well on our way to progressing to new heights of artistic creativity through the embracing of new sounds, while still holding down our core aesthetic. To show you where I saw artistry and creativity oozing out of the sets, let me run down some highlights from each dj’s set.

Kingpin:

Kingpin held down the 10 pm slot like a boss. He told me that he would be coming with some new, innovative sounds for Columbus to sample. I wasn’t disappointed. He built a set that progressed from gentle, soothing moombahsoul to frantic, funky techno. Now you all know I got a soft spot for the king, but I don’t mince words when I say that his set sent me to the next level. He played some favorites of mine, while also taking me to places in electronic music that I didn’t know existed for our Columbus Scene. I wanted to highlight some of the key moments that made Kingpin’s set special to me.

1.) Simon Iddol — I can’t stop you better (Amanda Blank VS Lindstrom & Christabelle + Aeroplane) 

Pay close attention to the weirdness that erupts at the 2 minute mark as a progressive, spaced out beat starts to overtake the house beat. This reminded me so much of a Pink Floyd jam when I heard this live. Especially, the last thirty seconds. COMON!! This section is crazy and when I walked into Circus on saturday I never thought I would be taken there. Yet, the King always has tricks up his sleeve. Thats why I always religiously end up at the club right when his set starts.

2.) Bingo Players-Cry (Kids at The Bar Bootleg)

I love the merging of the melodic elements of the original with the gritty intensity of the Kids at The Bar reworks. It sure is a banger, but one that plays with so many different styles of electro. I can feel a funky disco house beat wanting to come out from the edges.

Kingpin placed these tracks beautifully into his dynamic set that slowly progressed in intensity throughout the hour, as bodies slowly poured in and were overtaken by his rhythms. He took chances the entire night, and we were rewarded by getting a glimpse into realms of electronic music we don’t often hear in Columbus.

Egotronic:

I knew from the moment I saw Egotronic that he was going to come hard and never relinquish his control over the trashy, industrial sound he reigns over. Never for a moment stopping to let up, Egotronic unleashed a barrage of dark, metal electronic that reaffirmed my passion for electronic music. He reminded me of how important going to shows is for not only opening one’s mind to different sounds, but for creating community. We all danced to the pulsing beat of the industrial techno Egotronic spun for us. Despite every barrier that may have separated us outside of Circus, Egotronic united us through Patient Zero’s rework of The Silent H!’s ‘Megatron’ 

Once he built us up, Egotronic drove us insane with rising Italian artist Silvijo Zylfi’s rework of Cyberpunkers epic track “Fuck the System”. I know that this track really spoke to the power I felt in that crowd to buck convention and do whatever it was

I felt expressed who I was at that moment. It helped me push beyond limitations and find that degree of autonomy I always seek in life. Pushing beyond those limitations, a whole world of beauty was opened to me once Ginsu took the decks over.

Ginsu: No Cuts No Glory & Push Productions

Ginsu’s whole set represented one giant progression, as Kingpin’s did. This progression took us from from the soothing beauty of progressive house, through electro house bangers, and finished us off with punishing dubstep drops. I especially loved his progressive house section, as it took me far away from the dark surrounds of Columbus and shows me the possibilities of optimism and light. This light, airy sound was exceptionally captured by the track “The Magic Conch” by artist Dr. Trout in the beginning section of Ginsu’s set. Check it right here to relive that moment:

Yet, the highlight of Ginsu’s set for me was in the dubstep portion of his set where his on point track selection and sixth deck sense had him drop Flux Pavilion’s “I Can’t Stop” & Alvin Risk’s Remix of Ali Love’s “Diminishing Returns” in close succession:

I was left decimated by this choice track selection. Now these two tracks are not rare in any way, but pairing them close together makes for utter anarchy on the dance floor in any Columbus Club. We love our dark bass. It was during this section that I experienced the most unbridled energy of the evening, as I gave my way over to the pulsing bass and let myself channel its energy. This was only the beginning of the bass, as Magua took over the decks.

Magua:

The main event of the evening held down the 1 am time slot in amazing form. He spun unrelenting dubstep and electro house that got the room going nuts. To me, he really channeled Columbus’ core electronic aesthetic in his creation of a dark, demonic vibe in the room. Yet, he built on this aesthetic by carving out his own niche with his choice track selection and seemless weaving of electronic house and dubstep throughout his set. No where were both of these distinctive qualities more apparent than in Magua’s dropping of these two tracks below.

1.) Helicopter Showdown & Calverton –Drop It Again

I was really shocked by this track. I was taken aback by the presence of the Caribbean dancehall rhythms that started the dubstep genre so long ago. Besides this, the melodic buildups in this track really captured my musical imagination and showed me some some awesome sonic capabilities in the dubstep genre I didn’t know existed.

2.) Dada Life — Happy Violence (Vocal Edit)

This is completely guilty pleasure. I am a big Dada Life fan, and when this track dropped I went ape. The hard and pulsing bass is only taken to the next level with the vocals laid over the top of the swirling progression of the track. Big Ups to Magua for playing this huge international hit. The happy violence this track did to the main room at Circus felt so right.

Magua brought the party home and ended another successful ALL LOCAL columbus electronic music event. As I walked out of Circus one thought resonated with me above all. We don’t go to shows to be noticed. We don’t spin records to get famous. We come together to support one another, enjoy the music, and build a community. Positivity and collaboration above all! As put by the cats at OHIO STAND UP, “Its the Columbus Way”.

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We Survived. That’s a miracle considering the barrages of bass and scintillating synths that were aimed at us from Skully’s main stage, and the COLLECTIVE ENERGY that we created by dancing in one to the beat. At multiple points during the evening, I could feel the foundation of Skully’s rocked to its core. The firmaments begging for a reprieve from a packed house losing itself in the hypnotic rhythms of our community. Yet, we, as a mass, were unrelenting. The people stood united in a reciprocal relationship of communication. The Dj’s played. We danced. In that relationship, we communicated at a fundamental level of understanding that showed our common goal of acting in unison for just one night. This communication was heightened by moments of clarity for me in each Dj’s set where they expressed the core aesthetic that they think defines them. I hope to offer a few thoughts on how the images and music played for our enjoyment offered me novel thoughts about each artist and our Columbus electronic music scene more generally.

Heady Ruxpin:

The guy did not disappoint. He held down the opening time slot and worked throughout the night to provide live art inspired by the music. He shows a tremendous talent and energy that really enriched my experience of the show. I spent a lot of time just watching him weave intricate designs together as the music played. While watching, a wonderful synthesis occurred in my brain. I came to understand the interconnected nature of image and sound. This really resonated with me and really led me to view the entire show as an interplay of image and sound from that point forward.

Kingpin: 

Does this image jog your memory? Oh man, it certainly brings the show back for me. Bryan Barnes, official photographer for LeBOOM!, from Lite Brite Images came direct with this Image above and the ones below. It captures the insane energy Kingpin created during his set. Yet, Kingpin didn’t just end his genorosity there. He offered up the recording of his show for download at his soundcloud (Stream/download it below). What a gentleman! Now thats the type of guy you would want to date your daughter. It shows manners and social grace (Ha ok I am getting carried away).

Kingpin’s set was a huge highlight of the night for me. Especially, his section from 29:41 to 34:53. In this section, he first dropped his huge edit moombahton of Zedd’s “Shave It”. I was emphatitcally trying to recover from this when he then transitioned into my boy Dunjinz’s HUGE track “Albion”,(Check out the rest of Dunjinz’s work on his Soundcloud). Now, I didn’t think he could have taken me to another level. Again, I was wrong. He dropped Knife Party’s “Internet Friends” and effectively drove me nuts. I believe this section shows the skill of Kingpin in interweaving genres and playing huge tracks in succession that continue to build an emphatic, unrelenting pace. Both are skills a DJ needs to have, and I think Kingpin knows how to do both well. I know I am officially on the moombahton train after his show.

LeBOOM!11 Kingpin Mix

Dirty Current:

As a vocal sample in one of Dirty Current’s dark tracks echos “Can’t Turn Back”, I am transferred away from the world of Moombah to a desolate, industrial landscape that I cannot escape. Its a world where we all become cogs in a rickety old machine that looks eerily similar to the one you and I inhabit in Columbus. This world looks so familiar to us, because these tracks are the very soundtrack that gives sonic meaning to a post-industrial city like Columbus. Though we have long left behind large scale mechanized industries in Columbus, the city still has numerous remnant of this past. These ruins haunt our very traversing of our city, and Dirty Current really gives meaning to that reality when they spin their dark, industrial sound at shows. Its one of the key reasons I really connect with them and their track selection, because I too share this sonic vision of our city. One of my favorite segments of their show was when they dropped a track off of Gessaffelstein’s Conspiracy pt.2 (An ep that is a personal favorite of mine). This set the tone for the rest of their show. They came directly at the crowd with aggressive, dark, twitchy industrial electro that whipped us into a frenzy. I know I still am not recovered from their set.

Carma & Attak:

Just as abruptly as I left Moombah-land, I was ripped out of the dark synth universe of Dirty Current and relocated to a distant Bass-filled galaxy where Carma & Attak rule the floor with clean bass & experimental synth. I began to traverse this new plane of existence, but found I was ill prepared to deal with the monumental bass being dropped from their death star-esq rig. I tried to elicit the help of some friendly furry ewok looking creatures walking around, but they were too captivated by the rhythms flowing from the speakers to be of any assistance. Instead of resisting the “force” of Carma & Attak, I embraced the dark side and let them level me with their set. They did not disappoint. The full frontal assault was immensely effective and left resistance futile. I gave my body over to the bass and let it pummel me. The highlight of their set for me was when they dropped a The Sticky Bandit’s rework of Laidback Luke’s huge hit “Time Bomb”. I featured this track in my LeBOOM! track highlights post, and you can listen to it and other tracks mentioned in that post HERE. The tracks placement in the set showed a subtle, nuanced understanding of live DJ’ing that I really appreciate. I know I will be coming back again to see these two spin.

roeVy:


Just when I thought Carma & Attak’s hold on me was too hard to break, I was catapulted back to earth and taken to a dark, foggy dungeon where two sets of soft red eyes hypnotized me into a catatonic state. I stared intently into their eyes and was taken away from a world of social convention and rules to a place where radical freedom was possible. Yet, I did not go to this world alone. We all collective went into roeVy’s world together. Why go alone. Their visual display caution us against the threat of such individualism. “Trust Each Other, or Die Alone”. With such messages resonating to the core of our understanding of being human, we all took the ride together. If for just a transitory moment, this hypnotic state made me view life through a clearer lens. Just as the visual display showed flames overtaking screens of pure static, I felt the fierceness of my mind overtaking the pure static vision of goals, boundaries, fears, and worries to open up the possibilities of other modes of thought. I gave way to the pulsing rhythm and for a moment left that old world behind and entered a state of bliss. The highlight of the show for me was when they dropped their track “Raum”. Aided by my mental transformation, Raum hit harder then it ever had live and catapulted the entire crowd into utter ANARCHY. It was again another testament to the manifest power of roeVy to form groups of people into one assembled community.In fact, the entire show was a testament to the power of our Local Columbus electronic music scene to be radically inclusive and form diverse strands of music and people together into one community devoted to the beat!

To get all the Local Autonomy updates on columbus electronic show reviews, local artist spotlights, and promotional write ups from Local Autonomy Like Us on Facebook HERE.

Make sure to also be on the look out for Mike Harmon’s LeBOOM 11 Video. You can get at him at his facebook page HERE

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