The annual Decibel Festival is Seattle’s home for the future of music. Decibel is a festival that carefully chooses the most innovative and fascinating musicians of the electronic persuasion working today for several days of epiphanic live performances and environments. With the festival spread out into 36 sections over five days, we thought we’d give you suggestions for ten of those blocks that you should absolutely check out if you’re attending. Let’s get started.
Pitch Black (21+)
Wednesday, September 24th (Day 1) @ Re-bar. Standalone tickets available here ($20.00).
If you’re looking for a few hours of dark, entrancing atmosphere, Pitch Black is your go-to block on day 1. With the moody beat-heavy bliss of Black Asteroid, the monumental scope of Vatican Shadow’s experimentation and the postmodern IDM of the lovely Rrose, Pitch Black is for sure going to be one of the most engrossing blocks of the entire festival. If you make the age cut (21 and over), be sure to check this one out.
Wednesday, September 24th (Day 1) @ the Crocodile. Standalone tickets available here ($20).
Easily the most chillaxed and vibrant block of day 1, Haunted Pop is home to several of the most worthwhile acts on the entire festival bill. From the very serene chillwave of Seattle producer Manatee Commune to the sweet, surreal and quiet rock of BRAIDS, Haunted Pop is one of the most sweet and diverse Showcases on the bill.
For what it’s worth, though, the block is worth attending just for Son Lux alone, whose sound is a completely original mix of trip-hop, post-rock, psych folk (Grizzly Bear, Sung Tongs-era Animal Collective) and neo-classical music (very similar to the works of Owen Pallett). Do yourself a favour and check out his 2013 album Lanterns, and then join us for the Haunted Pop Showcase on September 24th.
Rhythm & Bass
Thursday, September 25th (Day 2) @ the Showbox. Standalone tickets available here ($31.50).
Don’t let the somewhat standard and unassuming name fool you, day 2’s Rhythm & Bass Showcase is anything but generic. Rhythm & Bass is home to three of the festival’s most talented musicians, all of whom have their own unique flair. Jennifer Lee, aka TOKiMONSTA, supplies bubbly tribal-inspired future beats that could please both electronic music deriders and hardcore fans alike. Meanwhile, the antics of Will Wiesenfeld (Baths) are wonderfully inspired, taking cues from future beats, dream pop and experimental music into a sound that only Baths delivers (also I’ve seen him in concert before, and he’s great). LA-based MADE IN HEIGHTS is a vocal-heavy experimental project that’s as abstract as it is gorgeous. If you’re up for a good and enjoyable time, consider Rhythm & Bass.
OPTICAL 3: Playful Discord
Thursday, September 25th (Day 2) @ EMP Sky Church. Standalone tickets available here ($25.00).
You can never go wrong with a little audio + video odyssey, especially when the music side of things is this stacked. Not only do you get Oneohtrix Point Never, the wonderfully inspired project of the crazy-talented Daniel Lopatin, but also the mind-altering AtomTM Heart and the dark ambient flavour of German producer Kangding Ray. Combine that with equally bizarre and crazy visual performance, and by the end of this Optical, your brain will feel like a Laffy Taffy left outside on a hot summer day. So in other words, be there.
Bass Cadets 1
Friday, September 26th (Day 3) @ Showbox SoDo. Standalone tickets available here ($36.50).
If you’re looking for some good mindless fun with a huge amount of bass to boot, the first Bass Cadets set may be worth your time. Featuring three members of the ever-notorious Mad Decent record label, Paper Diamond, THUGLI and Keys N’ Krates, as well as a live set from duo Gladiator, Bass Cadets 1 is definitely one of the most high-octane blocks of the festival.
OPTICAL 4: Static Memory
Friday, September 26th (Day 3) @ Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall. Standalone tickets available here ($35.00).
Going back to the endlessly-fascinating OPTICAL series again, Static Memory is another intriguing entry in the festival. On top of fantastic experimental music courtesy of composer Murcof and WIFE, the solo project of James Kelly, composer, multi-instrumentalist and former member of the late black metal group Altar of Plagues, OPTICAL 4 is home to a special presentation of “1979”, an audio-video album collaboration between producer Deru and filmmaker Anthony Ciannamea that’s nine tracks of original material from Deru paired with nine short films from Ciannamea. This is another block that serves to entertain in the sonic department just as much as the visual department, so we recommend checking it out if you’re looking for a performance that will entertain on multiple levels.
dB After-Hours 3: Dialated (18+)
Saturday, September 27th (Day 4) @ Q Nightclub. Standalone tickets available here ($22.00).
As we all know, sleep is for the weak. With the doors opening at 2:15 in the morning, we hope you join us for Dialated, the third in the After-Hours series. Another darker, more downtempo concert block, Dialated has a lot to offer thanks to live performances from producers KiNK and the great John Roberts, as well as a DJ set from Efdemin. For those of you who aren’t afraid to stay up past your bedtime, come out to dB After-Hours 3: Dialated.
Saturday, September 27th (Day 4) @ EMP Level 3. Standalone tickets available here ($25.00).
Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a little bump n’ grind. The Hot Creations Showcase has intentions to take over the Showbox for a night of electronic dance music bliss. With two DJs from the Hot Creations record label – Patrick Topping and Hot Creations founder Lee Foss, as well as a live performance from deep house belter Shadow Child. While it may not be as envelope-pushing as the OPTICAL series at Decibel, a little dancing never hurt anyone.
Saturday, September 27th (Day 4) @ the Showbox. Standalone tickets available here ($31.50).
The Decibel Festival aims to be stayin’ alive on day 4. Musical revivalism is all the craze these days, so it’s only fitting for the festival to have an entire block dedicated to nostalgia-driven electronic music. Mega-talented synth-heavy producer Com Truise will be performing, along with contemporary disco darling Midnight Magic, bright, colourful producer Lindstrøm, and a set from the great DJ Avalon Emerson. If you’re down to come and groove along, join us.
Friends of Friends
Sunday, September 28th (Day 5) @ the Crocodile. Standalone tickets available here ($22.00).
Friends of Friends, the Showcase for four artists on the label of the same name, is going to be a few hours of beat-oriented goodness. With a consistently solid lineup in instrumental hip-hop producer Salvo, eclectic dance music duo Nadastrom and more, the Friends of Friends Showcase is sure to be spitfire dance music joy.
Thus concludes our picks for ten concert blocks you should attend at this year’s Decibel Festival! If you haven’t gotten a pass for the five-day event, don’t worry your pretty little self, for, although Tier 1 and 2 passes have sold out by this point, at the time of writing, Tier 3 passes are still available. Pick up your own pass posthaste at this location. We hope to see you there.