By the time last night's big Decibel Finale at Neumos rolled around, I was in serious need of a second (or fourth, or fifth) wind. I eventually got back into it, but it took until the very last act of the night.
Which isn't to say the opening acts were sub par by any means. Flying Lotus played a set of immaculate hip hop instrumentals surrounded by dubby effects, gunshots, and Wilhelm screams. Steven Ellison (aka Flying Lotus) rocked back and forth, bobbed his head, and flashed a wide, open-mouthed grin throughout his set (according to some laptop spotters, he didn't do much else though, only tweak effects while a pre-planned set played out.) That grin, though, was hard not to rally behind. Ellison played Mr. Oizo's "Stunt" as well as possible another Oizo track; he played his Robo Tussin remix of Lil Wayne's "A Milli," Daedelus' "Hours:Minutes:Seconds," Aphex Twin's "Windowlicker," and TI$A's "Vote Obama Way"—all fused together with his own instrumentals, warped to his own style. For the Obama track, he tried and largely failed to involve the crowd in some call and response; Seattle or perhaps just Decibel crowds not so much feeling the call and response this weekend. Still, he maybe had the biggest, most obviously enthused crowd of the night.
The Bug by Ken Roeder, Soulful Elements Photography
I missed the first half of the Bug's set, which sounds as though it was somewhat marred by Kevin Martin's far too frequent rewinds on the CD decks (a staple of the style, sure, but apparently he was spinning tracks back after only 30 seconds or so). By the time I arrived, though, MC Warrior Queen was on stage, and Martin was providing her with minutes of music at a time. I've had trouble with patois before, but I think Warrior Queen was harder to translate thanks to some extra fiery craziness on her part. She kept talking about doing a song for "all da real man in da house," but Martin either wasn't into it or couldn't find the right track, so that the song was introduced and diverted multiple times before finally landing. She rapped in Jamaican accented Spanish. She called for the legalization of marijuana (shock horror). Dancehall, even of this digitally distressed variety, isn't exactly my scene, but Warrior Queen was an entertaining MC, and more importantly Martin's bass was just unbelievable, probably the heaviest rumble of the whole festival.
Supermayer by Ken Roeder, Soulful Elements Photography
But it was Supermayer who really got my spirits back up for one last dance at Decibel (much of the crowd, though, took off after the Bug; either Supermayer don't have the same level of hype as the previous two acts, or else people just had to work the next morning). The duo, looking elegantly elfin as always, entered to orchestral fanfare and started their set with a Mr. Oizo song (was yesterday his birthday or does he just make universally beloved tracks?), all analog synth bass and beat, and they kept things simple like that for some time, hard, thumping beats with truly minimal action in the spaces between. I suppose I had expected them to hit more of the fey disco acoustics of Save the World or their recent killer remix of Hot Chip's "One Pure Thought," but this was much more like Speicher territory—they played Sascha Funke, possibly Closer Musik, and "House Nation," all in this vein. They took turns selecting and mixing records and maybe CDS, and when either of them wasn't busy DJing, they were lithely dancing, Superpitcher sometimes waving his hands around as though beckoning or hypnotizing the crowd. It's cute. After a seemingly interminable, drum-less breakdown lit by monolithic strobe light, they finally got into some more euro disco territory with Baxendale's epically cheesy "I Built This City For You" and a dub of the Foals' "Olympic Airways." They played on after the club brought the lights on, and the crowd kept dancing.
Afterwards, there was a private party for the Decibel staff, volunteers, artists, and whatever press could beg their way in. A lot of people do a lot of work to make this festival happen, many of them as volunteers, and it was great to see everyone finally unwinding, happy in a job well done. It was maybe the first time I saw Sean Horton looking relaxed and dancing all weekend. Earlier in the festival, a friend observed that Decibel is great because it makes you feel, for a weekend, like you live in some other city (one Decibel built for you, I suppose), where the parties go all weekend, full of people from different places with different foreign accents, headlined by high-caliber international artists. With each year's increasingly successful Decibel run, though, one imagines it feeling less like a departure for Seattle and more like a part of its regular fabric. Here's hoping.