The Daily Iowan

Gabe’s drops the bass

Gabe's Bass Oasis hosted a variety of electronic music performances.

Jack Howard, Art's Reporter

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Gabe’s, primarily known as a rock-based venue, hosted a lengthy night of bass-drops, snare-rushes, body pumping, and hypnotic displays with Bass Oasis.

As someone who had only been to rock shows at Gabe’s, I was unsure how the space would suit EDM artists and satisfy the high-energy demands of an EDM crowd. Also, with scores of such festivals popping up around the country in recent years, I was curious to parse the differences of the crowd in an indoor space as opposed to an outdoor one.

I wasn’t expecting anything too elaborate at the Bass Oasis, given my experience at Gabe’s rock shows, but I quickly found my expectations were exceeded. Before I even reached the top of the staircase I felt my body buzzing. Long and deep bass swells from Iowa-based producer Kill OG pumped through the room, and head-bobbing rhythms swirled around my head.

The crowd was thin, but a man juggling lighted bowling pins stood out in the center of the room. The atmosphere was dense with synthetic sounds, and at times I felt a bit overwhelmed. Despite this, the audio was incredibly clear and never got oppressively loud. Gradually, the crowd filled into Gabe’s. One by one, each act took to the stage, each set flowing into the next, behind a white board of wood where visuals were projected.

These projections, provided by Ono Visuals, were an immediate attention-grabber. Every color on the spectrum morphed its way through the mixing pictures, and a dazzling display of geometric shapes traveled inward and outward from the screen and across the screen in all directions. The light-show accompanying the projections was impressive as well. Colorful spotlights darted throughout the foggy room: reds, greens, blues, and yellows all choreographed together in a lush ensemble of light. The visuals were a wonderful accompaniment to the continually shifting music from the producers.

Though the acts as a whole were fairly homogenous stylistically, mainly drawing influences from recent dubstep artists, they each showcased subtle differences from each other, which kept the crowd lively and interested. Some acts were for the most part instrumental, while others featured more vocal samples; some producers used their bass drops sparingly while others barraged the audience with them. Bass swells were a common factor for all of the acts, of course, never landing without force for a second. Occasionally, there were some ambient interludes dropped into the mixes, giving the crowd a second or two to breathe before resuming the low-end onslaught.

If there’s one thing I learned from stopping by the Bass Oasis, it’s that musical variety can find a home in Iowa City where you least expect it. The word “oasis” can’t be ignored here; in a city filled to the brim with rock bands, it’s always refreshing to experience something more electronic and danceable every once in a while. It’s great to see venues such as Gabe’s embracing electronic music performance, and i’m excited about what the welcoming of the genre holds for Gabe’s future.

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