In a city without a concrete electronic music identity at the moment, booking a global headliner for a weekday show at a small venue is a risk, but it was one that worked out for a nicely unforgettable romp when Loco Dice rolled into Seattle's See Sound Lounge earlier this month.
The night started out frustrating, with the opener playing too tough for the time slot. Please, no hard house, hard electro, or hard techno before 11 PM. Warm-up DJ's, no candy for breakfast—it will spoil your appetite and put you on a sugar crash before the day has even started. Cheers to Miguel Alvarado when he came on, for taming the levels and providing a more relaxed house vibe for a proper introduction to welcome Chloe Harris to the decks, who then proceeded to lift up and then crush the dance floor dead on the mark for her short set before Loco Dice came on.
Harris always plays to her audience, and this night her track selections pummeled you and drew you in at the same time. As she's playing, you can tell she takes every bent bassline and wacky synth melody very seriously. She gets deep into one of her dark techno sets, and her facial expressions and her dancing as she's mixing are so intense that you expect her arms to turn into tiny sledgehammers and her eyes to start shooting out ice laser beams, right before she picks up the DJ booth and throws it across the room. And then when she's done, you see her giggling in the corner. She loves her music, and it shows.
The dance floor energy was high when she finished, but the handoff to Loco Dice was not without its problems, as there seemed to be some equipment issues, and it took about ten minutes of situating to get him comfortable. After that, though, the techno universe aligned for a short while.
Fifteen minutes in to his set, Loco Dice was building peak after peak after peak of crushing drum-centric madness. Who needs a melody when you've got some of the chunkiest snares, whomping kick drums, shimmery stuttered hat lines, and funky bass sequences on the planet, all mixed and affected by one of the world's finest? Loco Dice has been one of my favorite artists for years, and I've seen him play big booming shows in Miami and Detroit, but to watch him work from ten feet away in the middle of a small but tight-knit group of frenzied dancers was something special.
For about 45 minutes, he blew us away, both massaging and punishing his hybrid Traktor and Ableton audio setup, pushing layer after layer of drums and filtered buildups, often peeling away from standard DJ structure just long enough to make the room tense enough that when the drop hit, all the feet on the floor started jumping like they were trying to escape from the prisons of their shoes.
Right around the hour-in point, though, the music got a little lost. He got stuck in a loop that lasted maybe five or six minutes with no kick and no bassline, the unified crowd mentality dissipated a little, and that energy never quite came all the way back. That may be why he has toured with Luciano in the past—to get over that hurdle when it hits—but that 45 minutes in the crowd was totally worth it, to be a part of the essence of dance music, to jump around and lose yourself, if only for a little bit.
The See Sound Lounge is not my favorite venue, with its awkward shape and sound sync issues, but the killer talent and excellent crowd vibe overcame those obstacles. No one there is likely to forget Loco Dice's big smiles and banging tracks anytime soon, and he'll be welcomed back next time to a group of people who've been telling their friends—"damn, you should have been there."