The kids at Frequency Events parties already knew it. The adults at AWOL parties already knew it. The people at Griffin’s back room and the Vegas StrEATS festival already knew it. But it’s time for the tourist corridor to see the power of bass music, as it breaks out of the small venues and enters the arena with the Bassrush Massive, the largest dubstep and drum & bass event Las Vegas has ever seen.
“Nowadays dubstep is far from underground,” says Frequency Events co-owner Joe Borusiewicz. “It’s hard to find anyone who, love or hate, hasn’t heard of Skrillex or Rusko or 12th Planet. I think today almost everyone recognizes it enough to formulate an opinion on it and have an idea what to expect at a show.”
Less than a decade ago, the genre was planted solely in raves and warehouse parties, its presence in casinos almost unthinkable. Now Skrillex is playing Surrender. Diplo and Rusko are playing Rain. Excision’s playing Marquee. “[Dubstep] is already the new thing,” AWOL founder Chad Craig says. “Surrender and XS booked Nero and Datsik. Names that I would’ve never thought would play a nightclub. I’m glad it’s evolving into that, but [I] dunno what it’s going to do to the scene.”
He’s referring to the difference in true bassheads and the wagon-chasers. “A legit bass event like Frequency’s get 300 people,” Craig adds. “Then you bring Skrillex and you get 3,000 Barbie dolls who just know what’s popular.” The previously unwanted and, contextually speaking, rebellious movement in EDM is, whether it wants it or not, getting dragged into the spotlight to be fist-pumped to by raving tourists. And that’s OK — because nothing like this has been done before.
“Bassrush is definitely swinging for the fences on this one,” Borusiewicz says, referring to the projected attendance and the headliners, Bassnectar, Datsik and Borgore. “Nothing of this scale has been attempted in Vegas exclusively with bass music before. It’s just one facet of their broader plan to make EDC week the new [Ultra/Winter Music Conference] week: tons of options, tons of venues, the whole works. How it’s going to pan out, I’m not sure … They are obviously banking on the timing making sense, since thousands upon thousands of people are coming to town for [EDC].”
But the timing isn’t necessarily everything. Even though there will be plenty of visiting and local bassheads alike, the genre’s traction in the club scene is resulting in more — and more affluent — fans. It might be earnest love for music with such an interesting background. Or it might be based on something less sincere — bass music by need, not desire.
“Electronic music is in enormous demand,” Borusiewicz says. “There are ridiculous sums of money involved, and the competition is way past fierce. On account of this climate, you see a lot more willingness on behalf of many established venues to entertain new ideas, including dubstep and bass music.” It becomes a series of trade-offs. Fury for Ferry Corsten. 12th Planet for Tiesto. Bassnectar for Bob Sinclar.
We aren’t complaining. Popular club music rolls in phases. And we’re sick of trance. We’re even sick of house — or at least, the “house” we’ve been hearing. Give us the Borgores. The Flux Pavilions. The Knife Parties. We’re ready to wobble.
<em>Thursday, June 7, 7 p.m.; The Orleans Arena, 4500 W. Tropicana Ave., www.bassrush.com, $35.</em>