Hidden in the remote forests of Northern California is a secret haven of bass culture. A serious community of bassheads thriving in seclusion, inviting world-renowned DJs to play to intimate-but-insane crowds on the massive Basscraft VOID Soundsystem. Just ask the DJs that visit this green wonderland, Humboldt County is notorious for going hard, even by West coast standards. Last year, some of the masterminds behind these heady shows finally decided to spread the love and throw a top-tier festival in the midst of Humboldt’s beautiful redwoods and rivers. Thus Northern Nights festival was born.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a smarter lineup, more beautiful natural surroundings or a better vibe in a crowd than you will at Northern Nights. The crew behind NN has gone out of their way to mix their bookings of West coast favorites like Eprom, Nasty Nasty, Mr Carmack, Justin Martin and Beats Antique with unique, fantastic artists unknown to the average attendee. It’s great to see a festival take chances and promote new sounds like this, and in support of their vision, I’ve listed some must-sees with whom you may not be familiar.
Lindsay Lowend just exudes happiness. Whether it’s the SNES remix of “Body Party” or his polyrhythmic hip hop, Lindsay is the sound we want at a sunny festival. Soak up this rare opportunity to see him/her live, then brag to your loser friends about how turnt you got to chiptunes.
Sure to rival Eprom and NastyNasty as the most mind-bending set of the weekend, Night Slug‘s Egyptrixx has been warping space-time with his incredible live show. Visceral psychedelic music and out-of-this-world visuals are married for a completely unique live experience. No word if his visual set-up will make an appearance, but either way be prepared for a world-renowned techno/experimental odyssey.
A leading voice in the Night Slugs/Fade to Mind collective’s RnG sound, Kingdom has a deft ear for melding pop and underground sounds into compelling dance music. Beyond his own productions, Kingdom’s DJ sets mirror his vision, rap and RnB jams complement banging vogue, club, and grime hybrids from up-and-comers such as Neana, Lotic and Moleskin. Don’t miss this, it’s easily my most-anticipated set.
I wanted to focus on a few local producers as well, as Humboldt’s home-grown scene has nurtured some amazing talent the past few years. By far the most renowned Humboldt producer, Hypha has been building his reputation as one of California’s smoothest bass operators via a string of stellar releases on Muti Music. Always intricate and wet, his beats feature IDM-levels of complexity woven into the sunniest of soundscapes. Expect Hypha’s live set to showcase his love of dancehall and house as well; ideal for an afternoon half-submersed in water (just like his beats).
The head of Phantom Wave Records, ONHELL has exploded in ability the past year. His productions encompass a broad spectrum of future bass sounds, but always employ top-notch percussion and psychedelic atmospheres. ONHELL’s live sets are filled with original productions, and shift naturally from spacey beats to hype footwork and then (in the past anyway) are punctuated by some banging acid techno.
I caught Wu Wei just last week, opening for Whitebear, and was impressed by the beautiful ambiance of his set. Best compared to the likes of Bluetech or Kaminanda, Wu Wei’s set moved the crowd to smiling and flow-dancing while avoiding the self-indulgent boredom that can plague psychedelic downtempo. For a broader portrait of his abilities, be sure to check his all-original mix.
Big ups to Northern Nights again for the diverse lineup, be sure to check out the festival here. Northern Nights runs July 18-20, and will make you a better person.