Pendulum at Transit 09.29.2005
Venue: The Mark
by Parker Stephens
Downstill unceasinglystill inevitably down! I gasped and struggled at each vibration. -Poe
The 29th of September was one of those nights a writer like me cannot help to flourish on. The two events I attented this Thursday evening provided me an illustration of electronic music culture as a breathing and thriving organism in Atlanta. It is fascinating to see music's ability to form people; to create subcultures similar and so different at the same time. To view fashion, speech and dance all alter with the subtle increase or decrease in tempo. It's no new debate, the differences between house music and drum and bass, but it has never ceased to excite me to watch these two differentiate.
I'll be honest, my experience with DnB is novice at best. Everyone has "their sound" they indentify with, mine has generally always been house. And it's not just the rhythm that held my affinity to house music, but I believe to be something also with the warmth, simplicity, and overall scene. However, attending Pendulum at the Mark has forced me to rework the ways I divide these musical styles in my head.
The night began in midtown, Bazzaar was hosting its monthly Cleaning Up The Dirty South event, and the vibe was already thick early in the evening. It's not necessary to describe this event too much (read about it here), but for comparitive reasons, I will draw a brief picture. The familiar elagance of Bazzaar's design was enhanced by additional 3D-effects, art designs, and multiple eye catching wonders. On top of the the vivid mise-en-scene, the beautiful people were on key, ready to sip drinks, chat, and saunter around with that familar and subtle pelvic thrust. Having absorbed enough eye-candy for the first part of the evening, my girlfriend and I departed from the glittery third-dimension and departed, in true Python style, for something completely different.
I have been to DnB shows before, a lot of them actually. However, never before tonight had I really noticed how different, not the just the music, but culture in general varied between these two styles. Walking through the deserted streets of downtown towards the rumbling sound hovering around the inconspicous 'M' marking the the club's entrance, I could tell something was different. As I entered the Mark, I could feel the atmosphere creeping up the stairs. I was greeted by Anthony, whose DJ moniker Mayhem accurately describes the spasmodic noises inviting me from the club's belly, and was on my way down. This was something different altogether than Bazzaar; after having listened to nearly 3 hours of house and electro early in the night this new sound was almost dizzying. Even before entering the club's dance area I could sense the general shift in mood from my previous location. The air was heavier and the sound was not only faster but it's aural density seemed to hijack my senses to the point of musical intoxication. Needless to say, I was having a good time. Upon entering the Mark's dark and chaotic dance floor, I couldn't help but think of a certain Poe tale about a man awaking in a dark chamber, his senses stifled to all but the sound of a swooping and vibrating metal blade... what was the name of that story again? I submerged myself into the crowd of frenzied bodies, there was no gentle swaying going on here. These people were dancing. The fashionable T-shirts and slacks had been replaced by hoodies, jeans, and ballcaps. The walls of the dance area were lined with what looked like rows of ballcapped bobble head toys, except these weren't smiling. The Mark's dance area serves a perfect fit for the sound of drum and bass, I really coudn't see the same vibe being created in the other spots around the city. But what is it about DnB that makes itself better suited for the dark, underground, and thickly atmospheric locations? As I danced with energized intensity to the throbbing sounds of Pendulum I realized that it isn't DnB that's inherently dark, but rather in some weird impressioninstic twist, it's more of a reflection of the part of the mind the music plays to. It isn't superficial, it isn't glittery, it isn't neceassarily sexy, and it isn't trying to save you. More than anything Pendulum was breaking me down. The music seems to swell the brain with stimuli to the point of surrender. Pendulum's music was doing just that, not so much moving me to the beat as playing me like a marionette. I will always love house music, but there is something about drum and bass that has the ability to captivate you entirely if you let it. I think most house heads find DnB too intense only because it leaves little room for anything but the music, it digs into your skull and forces submission; try sipping a cosmo and tapping your foot in the middle of one of these crowds. Tonight was the first night I think I experienced the true draw of DnB. The mixing was not just sequential beat matching, but a hypnotizing swirl of teasing tracks, building tracks, and hand-grenade blowups. Having listened to Pendulum's Hold Your Colour and their essential mix I was able to recognize the explosive 'Slam' and my personal favorite, 'Another Planet'. Pendulum's tracks differ from a lot of other DnB (and all other EDM genres at that) I have heard in its complexity and ability to do so much in one track. 'Another Planet' seems to tell the tale of some stellar odyssey as it whirls around epic and atomic sounds and sci-fi samples; an adrenaline injected 21st century 'Peter and the Wolf'.
You hear the word "conscious" thrown around a lot with music; fashion conscious, art conscious, etc. After experiencing Pendulum, my love for quality DnB has been redfined specifically as an appeal to the unconscious. A type of music that aims to bypass all the fluff, nail you right between the eyes and have you dancing all night long. I will most defintely be out to the next Transit to catch the entire show. Special thanks to Mayhem, Pendulum and everyone else that makes the world of DnB go 'round in our city!
Pendulum - Hold Your Colour
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