Let me paint a picture for you.

It’s about 2am on a hazy college night in February, 2011.

Here I am; a sophomore in college, surrounded by friends and strangers in a vibrant hotel lobby in Kansas City, Missouri.

Gathered on the second floor lobby, a certain buzz of excitement and energy remained amongst the group after just getting back from the Midland Theatre. Drinks were shared, stories were told, and videos from the night’s festivities were displayed for all to witness.

But there I sat, speechless.

Not in the metaphorical sense of ‘speechless.’ Frankly, I couldn’t get words to come out of my mouth.

Had I drank too much? Had I smoked too much? A combination of both?

Nope, I thought. I was just simply speechless.


The first time I saw Bassnectar live in concert – “felt Bassnectar live in concert might be a more fitting phrase – I was pretty new to “electronic dance music.”

Having been introduced to the electronic scene a few months earlier, I wasn’t sure what to expect from that epic introduction of Lorin Ashton in Kansas City. The aftermath of this rendezvous was a man lost in a state of mesmerization.

“WHAT is this music…?”

Now, fast-forward four years.

A few long drives (even a couple plane rides), $2500, and another eight live sets later – I am still pondering the same question I started with on this journey.

“WHAT is this music…?”

How can music so heavy be so comforting?

How can it be so loud but so rhythmic?

How can it sound so simple but also be so layered and complex?

As I’ve tangled with these questions through the years, another question arises: how do you categorize Bassnectar’s music?

One thing I have come to realize? The best artists are those you cannot simply shove into categories and subcategories.

Is it Trap? Trance? Electro? House? Electro House? Deep House? Progressive House!?

Honestly, who gives a shit?

Without giving a lengthy, redundant, poorly worded explanation – please see my note below for the best explanation I have been able to give in my years of listening to him. If you check the date, you’ll see I created this note after his set at Northcoast Music Festival this past summer.

This is the best explanation I have been able to give in my years of listening to him.
If you check the date, you’ll see I created it after his set at Northcoast Music Festival this past summer.

If it makes you move uncontrollably and summons the animalistic being inside of you, it is whatever you want it to be. Not to mention, music is always a matter of taste and personal opinion.

Whether that energy pulled you around a winding roller coaster for two hours or put you in a state of awe, it was entirely up to him. Witnessing eight sets of this true artist, each show held its own parameters; had its own feel, and possessed its own energy. In fact, the only constants are Lorin at the helm and some variety of this beautiful bass.

Bassnectar is adored because he plays to the crowd in such a variety of intervals. Deep progressing sounds that grasp your attention, followed by a massive uprising that leaves you filthier than you were ten minutes prior. I have never heard someone with such aggressive diversity throughout each of his individual sets.

This is just one of the reasons for his massive “bass head” following. And although far too many still constitute Bassnectar’s music as “just noise” – 1.4 million Facebook “Likes” would suggest otherwise.

But still, most would agree that bass is an acquired taste.

“Bassnectar? What’s Bassnectar?”

“It just sounds like noise…how do you like that?”

How many times has that line pierced your ears?

When that “noise” is composed and presented in such compelling rhythmic grace, you understand the beauty of the bass, not the harsh tones that lay on the surface. Not everybody understands it, but that’s okay.

Bassnectar’s music is like a fine wine that you must first understand and grow fond of before falling head over heels in love with. Up until this year, I had a strong dislike for coffee and didn’t understand the love and, in many instances, need that I had for it.

Bassnectar is like a boutique cup of black coffee made in house. There are no comparisons – he is his own “taste.”

Along with my age, my fondness of coffee has only blossomed. I have a full understanding of its purpose and respect the positive effect it has on people’s everyday lives.

Despite that awful analogy, I believe the point stands true – Bassnectar is not a sound for everyone. It isn’t something you fall in love with (or understand) after the first taste. It isn’t for those who fear the unknown and avoid the advantageous sounds of life.

It’s a complicated taste that needs maturation before full appreciation can take place.

I’m not here to convince others to join in on the cult-following. And I’m not saying you need to adore Bassnectar, either.

I’m just saying you should respect him.

Maybe Bassnectar is “just noise”. But to me, and many others, it’s noise surrounded by a black light of beauty that few have the patience to see.