Ready for Blastoff: Simon Posford (Shpongle DJ Set) w/PhuturePrimitive in Arcata, CA 4/29

While being overwhelmed by the feeling of death by fever during last summer’s Camp Bisco 8 music festival, I was forced to miss out on seeing Raja Ram and Simon Posford (Shpongle) perform together, as they rarely do in the U.S. Needless to say, my anticipation to make up for this past summer’s absence from entering Shpongolia grew for weeks before April 29th’s jam-packed rage fest at the Arcata Theatre Lounge, featuring a Simon Posford Shpongle DJ set, PhuturePrimitive, and Zebbler tearing it up on the visuals. Upon arriving, it was obvious that World Famous Productions had done it again. The gallons upon gallons of fog juice, whirlwinds of flashing strobes and colored lights, and an assortment of rage level three attire for sale transformed the old theater into a launching pad for people’s self expression and inner discovery. The place was buzzing with an energy unlike any other time I’ve been to the ATL. While greeting friends and comrades in rage, it was common to be asked “ya ready for this?”, and I began to doubt whether or not I was, as I went further into my own Shpongleland.

PhuturePrimitive had just taken to his laptop when I arrived, and I was immediately drawn to the very front of the slowly filling dance floor.  DJ and Producer Rain has a psyche Dub style that was a perfect match for the evening’s mystical theme, and seemed to be reminiscent of last weeks Ott performance, where he played the Dubberized “Around the World in a Tea Daze.” Rain himself is no stranger to Shpongle, and when asked if he has ever worked with Simon he replied “I stay at Simon’s house when I go to London, but we have never worked together, although we have talked about it…”  We can only imagine and hope this collab comes into fruition. I also asked Rain about how he liked using Ableton with the Oxygen 8 controller, and I was happy to see that he was excited to explain his craft. Unsurprisingly, his set had a lot more depth than the average DJ set. “I have each instrument, each sound on its own track, and as they all play together to form the song, I can go in and individually tweak them and apply FX to each instrument. I really like Ableton but had to switch back to 7 because I was having too many problems with Ableton 8, and I’ve talked to Ott and Bluetech who have similarly had problems.” He went on to say “I like the Oxygen 8, but I use a lot of different gear and bring out different pieces depending on what I’m trying to do.”

Zebblers Visuals Killed It

The whole place seemed to meld into unison when Elysium blasted elegantly through the twin towers of sound on either side of the stage, and Rain’s motions were captivating as he disappeared and reappeared through my lens. I was lost for a long time as the auto focus ran wild, attempting to hone in on the smoke and lasers. (Unfortunately, a faulty roll of film prevented anyone else from seeing this mystifying optical illusion). After a quick smoke break I was back into the now fully sold out Arcata crowd. Simon himself was now on stage, perched high behind Rain who was playing his last track.  With a cheery “Hello”, Simon Posford took over as PhuturePrimative‘s gear was checked from stage to allow ample room for Shpongle’s neon friends.  With a smile, he asked “Are you ready to get Shpongled?”, and with that, those who were lucky enough to attend the sold out show took off on an intense visual and auditory adventure, in which hours seemed like lifetimes in the moment, yet a brief and blurred flash when looking back.

The word Shpongle itself has taken on many different associations and meanings, and I think its safe to say that musically, it can be classified into its own genre. It seems like every individual reacts to Simon and Raja’s music differently, and there seemed to be at least three tiers of ragers in the audience. In the rear, near the bar, the less physically expressive patrons stood and swayed in a trance, some with eyes closed, sipping spirits or pints of locally brewed beer. The middle tier of the venue, where I found myself most of the evening, was full of happy sexytime Shpongaloids grooving hard, as Simon mixed and danced while his army of blacklight tribal creatures interpreted the music through acrobatic glow poi and mischievous maneuvers. It was the dancers complimenting Simon’s three CDJ set, and the on-point visuals by Zebbler, that made the night such a mind blowing event. The creatures would appear and slip away as the songs would escalate and mellow out, each figure adorned with different accessories and style to give them unique characters. All the while, organic images of morphing shapes and colors, Shpongle masks, and tweaked live video feeds played on the huge movie screen behind the stage.

Blacklight Jungle Creature, Native to Outer Shpongolia

Closest to these creatures on stage was the front row and first tier of Outer Shpogolians. This was a ghastly, yet totally appropriate scene: sweat drenched young men with cartoon vision, bouncing and writhing, shoving and hugging, tugging at their hair and embracing themselves. They rode the peaks and valleys of the DMT cosmos, crashing and relaunching with each kiss from the malodorous spliff. (This plasmodial congregation of people absolutely erupted in a frenzy when their theme song Divine Moments of Truth (DMT) progressed through a flanged out sequence of ambient air, tribal drums and alien choruses). Most notably of the bunch was a 60+ year old hardcore motherfucker standing inches in front of the massive stacks of sound for the duration of the show, donning wraparound dessert goggles ready for the playa. Each and every rager clearly entered their own personal Shpongleland, as the music answered ineffable mysteries in the minds of the listeners. The community that formed that night filled the Arcata Theatre with the most mind blown and euphoric vibe I have ever been a part of, and I wish I could have personally thanked Simon and each and every person who was there.

If you haven’t heard of Shpongle or PhuturePrimitive, you should consider having your head examined, preferably by Simon Posford and Raja Ram themselves. In case they’re not available, just come over to the Rage Compound and get a free treatment by the Doctor of Rage, with a full immersion into Outer Shpongolia and other world-trance musical journeys. Until next time, party people, keep it moving and maintain a good balance of rage to real life ratio, the essence of raging responsibly.

( would like to show a whole lotta love to Matty and Julia, and the rest of the World Famous Productions fam for throwing another on point party and giving us an all access pass to some of the best shows in Humboldt County. Much respect!!!)

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