Insomniac's Audiotistic festival: EDC promoter delivers the bass
Wading neck-deep among sweat-lodged Diplo fans never seemed so calm. It was almost surreal, given the blasts of bass and laser lights that engulfed the populace inside the main stage, dubbed Treble Frequency, at the height of San Bernardino’s Audiotistic electronic music festival this weekend. But in the grips of big beat Armageddon, the threat of being thrashed around like a rag doll was the last thing ruminating in the minds of fist-pumping fans.
As the sound raged, two bikini-clad women in fox-colored spirit animal hoodies ducked in the middle of the herd to absorb a swirl of neon lights on the fingertips of a fellow raver, unafraid of being trampled by anything except sensory overload. Aboveground, Diplo’s squinted eyes surveyed the crowd as he smirked and cranked up the dials.
Sharing his passion for eclecticism in club music, the marquee DJ unpacked an arsenal of hip-grinding moombahton grooves and euphoric strains of zappy electro. In the crowd, walls of personal space shook and crumbled with each woofer-rattling remix. Though it was only one slice in a day-long bacchanal of groundbreaking electronic music, the apex of Audiotistic seemed to highlight Southern California rave culture’s ability to party without peril.
It had been a tough week for Insomniac, the festival's promoter, one marred by the near riot that eclipsed its premiere of "Electric Daisy Carnival Experience" in Hollywood when a mob of people showed up for a free, surprise block party organized by DJ Kaskade. On Friday, it was announced that some theaters had canceled future showings of the documentary about the annual festival.
Three days later, the spotlight on the midweek craziness still lingered. As festival-goers walking through the gates unfolded Audiotistic’s concert guide, ads for Kaskade’s next big headlining performance at the September Wonderland festival at the NOS events center, also produced by Insomniac, was a small, stinging reminder of earlier in the week.
Audiotistic has not been without its share of mischief -- last year 21 people were arrested, according to the San Bernardino Police Department. This year, 43 arrests were reported. Of those, 35 involved possession or sale of illegal narcotics, according to the police department.
And while the audience wardrobes at each stage differed depending on which of the four stages you were watching, it was inevitable that hip-hop-heads itching to see Chiddy Bang, Daedelus, Cool Kids, Lil B and King Fantastic would collide with the candy bracelets and gold lamé bras that populated around acts like AC Slater, Jaytech and Morten Breum.
In the Bass Frequency tent, dubstep’s oscillating throttle vibrated the walls of the dome-like hangar as artists like Fury, Flinch and Datsik did their dirtiest in a parade of wobbling low end that drew an aggressive, mostly male audience. It was a slice of the party that came with a slightly more belligerent energy than the Treble Frequency main stage, the house-heavy Speaker Temple or the Boom Box stage hosting mostly hip-hop pedigrees. But even more overwhelming than the amount of electro subgenres vying for attention at Audiotistic was the way in which they all melted together in close quarters with little or no major blowups -- eardrums notwithstanding.
-- Nate Jackson
Photo: Morten Breum performs on the Tribal Frequency stage at Audiotistic. Credit: Nate Jackson