Editor's note: More photos will be available tomorrow.
Dubstep appeals to its fans' base instincts: the urge to throw stuff (including one's own body, or parts thereof), ingest stuff, and yell stuff. But it also speaks to a world fraught with post-millennial tension and the increasingly high-tech nature of our modern surroundings.
But most of all, it's about the bass. And Excision, a dubstep producer from British Columbia, brought tons of it to the Egyptian Room (heck, the entire Old National Centre for that matter) last night on his X Tour in a show that was almost heart-stoppingly intense.
Excision - né Jeff Abel - appeared atop a massive version of his stylized X logo just before 10:30 p.m., and the full-body-vibrating bass made it immediately evident that the tour's marketing efforts probably aren't lying about the proclaimed 100,000 watts of sound.
The performance was a non-stop sensory onslaught and the actualization of every "Transformers"- and bass-lover's wet dream. If you've never had your Adam's apple pummeled by waves of low-frequencies, or want to know what it feels like to have your body warmed when soundwaves furiously vibrate your arm hair, the Excision experience is your chance.
The music - mostly dubstep, with some hardcore drum-n-bass thrown in for good measure - was one thing, but the visuals were nearly as aggressive. In what he and his crew, PK Sound, are calling "X Vision," digital graphics clashed throughout the set on the giant X rigging, featuring CGI exemplifying every era of its existence. Slayer-esque skeletons bathed in a rain of blood. T-Rexes roared to the music. Tron-like lasers navigated their space. And, perhaps most fittingly, spinning brains were shocked to the beat. The guys controlling the visuals from the middle of the room deserve hearty kudos.
As do Excision's IT geeks: Half an hour into the experience, the music and lights stopped. "I fucked some shit up," Abel said over the mic. "Gonna have to get someone to fix it, so we'll be right back." It didn't take long to fix, but in such a show, the music coming to a dead stop is inevitably disappointing to some. Thankfully for Excision, he has many more forgiving followers who didn't care about the brief outage. But perhaps next time Excision will bring his own nuclear power source.
Though the Excision experience is a veritable sonic war zone (or an Occupy protest - it wouldn't be surprising if militarized police consult with Excision on sonic dispersion weapons), attendees were surprisingly peaceful (save for skyrocketed water bottles and glowsticks). And diverse. Like Sound Tribe Sector 9, Excision attracted people in tie-dye shirts, urban-inspired flatbill hats, and, well, few clothes whatsoever. Not surprising, really: Brostep, the subgenre of dubstep Excision specializes in (along with Skrillex) appeals to EDM lovers, headbangers, and hip-hop heads alike.
Like The Prodigy, who rocked crowds of tens of thousands with tens of thousands of watts of bass years before him, Excision makes shameless music. But it's oh-so-enjoyable in a live setting. And Abel was sure to acknowledge his forefathers with a remix of "Voodoo People."
As enjoyable as Excision's rush of a show is, one can't help but wonder: How will this translate when the robots take over and don't let us use electricity any more? Liquid Stranger, who played before Excision, might have more of an answer to that.
Wearing a tee with a cat on it and playing from the corner of the stage in front of a DayGlo sign with his name on it, Liquid Stranger (aka Martin Stääf) controlled a (relatively) more organic sound: A remix of AWOLNATION's "Sail," a version of Star Wars' "Imperial March," and a hearty mix of DnB were all filtered through his dubstep-leaning set.
Though Liquid Stranger was a crowd-pleaser, in retrospect, it was impossible for him to compare to Excision's setup. Perhaps future Liquid Stranger sets will go head to head with Excision by featuring live guests? Hopefully Indy will get a chance to find out (that is, if our buildings are able to withstand all the bass from shows like last night's.)