While headed to the Majestic Theatre last night to hear opening act Phutureprimitive and headliner Sound Remedy, I overheard a man mutter to the woman next to him, “That’s music for dumb people.” After two years of studying at the University of Wisconsin, I’ve matured in a lot of areas, including the style of music in which I indulge. This newfound moderation contrasts from my earlier teen years, when I marched to the beat of heavy and face-melting bass. So, when I heard this comment I laughed to myself ambivalently, faltering upon acquiescence and protest, unsure of which I preferred. Regardless, I entered the venue immersed in nostalgia, eager to scrutinize the romping and raving lifestyle which I had once ardently endorsed.
This Wednesday, the Majestic showcased dubstep forerunners Phutureprimitive and Sound Remedy, who are continuing to imbue the genre with emotive tracks of love, loss, darkness and, as always, light. Phutureprimitive showed off appreciated classics, such as his remix of “Mad World” as well as recently released material from his latest album, Searching for Beauty in the Darkest Places Pt 1. His ethereal and eerie vibe was enhanced by the choreography of a scantily clad specter who the predominately male audience cheered on. The dancer’s exaggerated movements and facial expressions were melodramatic to the point of parody. Music, I feel, should stand alone. The presence of this half-naked girl emphasized the mindlessness and meaninglessness of the artificial high that dubstep, coupled with heavy drug use, can produce. Phutureprimitive’s set was solid. This particular aspect, however, went unappreciated.
All bubbles, whether the housing bubble of the 2000s or the tulip bubble of the 17th century, eventually burst. Many have already begun to speculate when the EDM bubble will meet this similar fate. I sense a gradual migration among my peers away from dubstep back to more subtle, yet stimulating styles of post-punk, jam band and rap. Phutureprimitive is deeply entrenched in the genre’s canon, and while his individual fame is growing, the heyday of dubstep is arguably waning. Sound Remedy is doing all he can to sustain the genre, producing highly inventive mid-tempo tracks that remix the likes of Wiz Khalifa, Nirvana and Bands. Mid-tempo is defined within the parameters of 110-120 BPM, and it characterizes the work of Adventure Club and Seven Lions, two artists who are also keeping dubstep alive and fresh. All three of Soundremedy’s EPs, Growing, Potions and Haunted Valor have been positively received, and he is currently working on another EP, as well as establishing his own record label. On Wednesday, Sound Remedy played little to none of his own material for the first 45 minutes of his set. The audience, however, did not seem to mind as long as Flux Pavillion’s “I Can’t Stop,” was steadily coursing through their ear drums.
As I walked home, I felt myself agreeing with the yuppie I had overheard earlier that night. It was a show for stupid people, and I was uncomfortable having shared the night with them. The overall quality of the two DJs was good despite their poor taste in genre. The vibe, however, was dark, dumb and disillusioned. Next time I think I’ll pass on the wobbles, grab a beer and head straight for the closest “live” music around.