Written by KatoPop with guest writer Amy Chan
Photography by KatoPop
The crystal blue Lake Tahoe is where some of us Bay folk go to “get away from it all.” After a 65 hour work week, I was aching to hit some snow and get down to some beats, hard pressed to fill my dancefloor quota for the week, which was suffering, deeply. It’s always exciting to check out a new venue, a different city, types of vibes, the fashion, and the sound system. I was stoked to see what our host Fresh Bakin’ had in store for us. The expedition is an easy hop, and as you hit altitude your ears pop. If you’re lucky, the week’s troubles are whitewashed by the calm view of snow-crested alpines reaching for the sun through chilly air. Sleepy North Tahoe was quiet for a Saturday night by our city-girl standards, and light snowfall dusted the roads. Feeling frosty, we rolled in to catch the tail end of Gurbtron‘s set. Party time was underway.
Lakeside Pizza, Sports, & Dancing is hidden behind a grocery store, with milk crates and produce pallets stacked and shadowing the parking lot. It seems like a cutty spot until you wind your way down the boardwalk and it sports, you guessed it, a lakeside view. The local crowd came correct in funky onepiece snowsuits, presumably in homage to The Polish Ambassador and crew. Inside it was cozy and warm, so coats, gloves, and scarves were stuffed into every crevice. With tables and chairs stacked and stowed, the venue transformed into a fully functional après–ski jam. It was an impressive production for a shelled out pizza joint. The lighting, sound and visuals were all on point. Bass therapy seeped through all of the cracks, permeating through the rafters, rattling window panes, shaking the starry night sky. Fresh Bakin’ had it coming in hot and makin’ it rain, or in this case, makin’ it snow.
I’ve been holding my breath for a year and a half waiting for someone to mix “Play” by Oakland native Goapele, and there it was; the bassline chopped, clipped and threaded into a rich, tasty song to feast on. The Portland based Barisone moved through his set taking complete advantage of the massive pro sound system brought in by Soulstice Sound, twisting and mashing familiar hooks with razor sharp rhythms that warmed us up like hot cocoa. We got a taste of Hucci Gurl’s Aaliyah mix, which had every girl grooving with that special somebody. The selector-modifier puts his name on every track he throws in the mix, whether it’s with some flipped clicks and low booms, or echoing drips, subtle claves, and snips from a reggae riddim’. With a perfectly timed snap-back, a splash of distortion and exquisitely selected loops, he can move from mellow to funky without a flinch in the room. There’s a lot of bass music out there right now that is bumping bass for the sake of bass. Not this one. Carefully placed and finely attuned transitions create a mesh of genres with no cheap tricks and it works just right. The familiar sounds we thought we knew so well become new again, and the new sounds kept us on our toes. We vibe. We sway. We dip. We drop. This guy: he’s smooth. He buttered the crowd just right.
Wick-it brought it back to the early 90’s. He brought it ALL back. By “all,” I mean Beck, Metallica, some Eminem, even a little bit of feel-good “Float On.” Opening up with a Nirvana track was an unexpected but well received choice. Folks were jumping and jiving, stoked to hear these old friends with that heavy dub twist. I have to admit, when “Teen Spirit” was released, I didn’t have access to the system that was pounding through the alpine rafters. My 12 volt boombox could never have given Cobain the justice that those fine tuned cones pumping out music were. The crowd was getting comfortable, high fiving incoming buddies, milling in and out, cooling off, and catching some impromptu fire spinning on the deck. Inside on the dance floor, the bass addicts bobbed heads and swerved to the heavy bass and chunky dub drops from The Instigator, who was in town from Tennessee for a taste of some Cali love.
I found a nook in the back corner and refreshed my crew’s cocktails in anticipation of The Polish Ambassador. When the duo of space men boarded the rocket decks, lighting went from cool and saturated fuchsias, blues and greens, to sunny yellow rays with bright, popping clicks and zips that blasted off. However dense the crowd, I usually push through it for front row beats. I mean, I gotta get that DJ fixin’. Meandering through the thick of it all, the energy neither wavered nor derailed at any point – even security was grinning and bobbing heads. Everyone was dialed in, the jet packed tunes flying low through the crowd of hooded flat brims and pompom beanies bobbing and dodging laser beams. He peppered his glitchy jams with classic hooks and magnetic melodies. Even with a busted ankle, I could not help but get down with the get down. If I were ever trapped in a video game, please let Liminus design the maze and let’s loop in an Ample Mammal soundtrack. In the gummy, synthed, pixelated sound slappers, I would bop around collecting extra points to cash in on some more beats! As many shows as I’ve been to, Liminus’ live projected visuals of neon flashes of cyber networks, organic flower fields, booty-pop vids, and even a splash of Burning Man playa nostalgia, immaculately synch synergistically with the musical puppet master. No matter how gritty the funk, a light-hearted humor accompanies his sexy groove.
If you can’t catch The Polish Ambassador on his current tour, you can download nine free hours of music at ThePolishAmbassador.com. Keep an eye out for his earth-centric album, Ecozoic, coming soon. Fresh Bakin’ is pumping out shows in the Tahoe/Reno area as well as in San Diego, Sacramento, and elsewhere up and down the left coast. Find them at FreshBakin.com. Fresh Bakin’ also produces The Bounce Festival, now in its fifth year, in Plumas County, CA along the Feather River. You can be damn sure Lost in Sound will be there.