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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Lorin Ashton, more commonly known as Bassnectar, will be performing his collection of moving drops at the Alliant Energy Center this Friday.

No aches, no pains, just anticipation—Bassnectar returns to Madison

Thousands flocked to Bassnectar’s performance at The Alliant Energy Center last April, and it seems this year’s audience will turn out an even bigger crowd for bass head Lorin Ashton’s auspiciously timed Friday the 13th show.


“The show’s almost sold out and we are just hella-fucking-hyped,” said Ashton, who performs under the moniker Bassnectar, from the other end of a phone line in South America.


At the time of his chat with The Daily Cardinal, Ashton had recently wrapped his show at Lollapalooza Chile and was gearing up for a performance in Argentina, along with the release of his latest album, Vava Voom, which dropped Tuesday, April 10.


This 11-song masterpiece kicks off with the infectious and bass-heavy track “Vava Voom,” which features Lupe Fiasco and plenty of satisfying drops. This and other collaborative songs on the album may leave some wondering if Bassnectar is moving away from its electronic/dubstep roots in a more hip-hop direction, but Ashton spoke otherwise.


“I’ve worked with hip-hop emcees pretty extensively for years and every album that I’ve released is basically a collection of diverse styles,” he said. “So there’s going to be something with hip hop influence, something with some metal or punk rock influence, and something with some dubstep … It’s been that way for 10 years.”


He speaks the truth. By the time listeners get to the end of the album Ashton has taken them through a spectrum of songs featuring samples from bouncing ping pong balls and light-hearted laughter—all flawlessly weaved into musical components, mind you—to a tribute to California punk rock band Pennywise and a metal-inspired intro on “Chronological Outtakes.”


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Ashton is somewhat renowned for his stature as a bass junkie with death metal roots, which may seem odd to those less-accustomed to screaming vocals and the use of a double-bass pedal but felt like a totally natural progression to him.


“I feel like my personality is defined by some pretty simple traits, and it applies to different scenes in the same way,” Ashton said. “The difference for me [between death metal and electronic music in the mid ’90s] was the attitude and the atmosphere of the [electro] gatherings was a lot more friendly.


“I was always kind of a lot more gentle, goofy person than I was some kind of, you know, hard core tough guy,” he said with a chuckle, consequently proving his point.


However, Ashton has not always had such a carefree attitude.


“I’m thinking 10 years ago I was making Mesmerizing the Ultra and I would literally work 12 to 15 hours a day, every day, in my studio like a zombie just completely obsessed with making it because I wasn’t touring as much then,” he said.


“It’s funny because when I was in my young 20s I always kind of seemed exhausted and I had a lot of like body pain in my wrists and my arms from all the computer work [making music] that I was doing,” he continued. “I used to think I was going to die before I was 30, and now I have more energy than I’ve ever had in my life.”


This is quite the impressive feat for a 34-year-old that has been on non-stop tour for over a decade.


“I’ve been telling people I’ve been DJing for about 10 years, for about six years, and I just realized I’ve been fucking DJing for 15 years,” Ashton said. But he does not have plans for halting the whirlwind any time soon.


“I feel so fucking on point and strong and inspired and it’s uh, it’s a crazy time in my life I think,” he explained. “I take really good care of myself. I sleep eight hours as much as possible, I eat tons of vegetables, I exercise whenever I can … I don’t party. I don’t do drugs. I’m just really kind of focused on clarity. It’s really more exciting to me.”


He definitely needs the energy, especially since Bassnectar continues to sell out venues with capacities as large as 10,000. Yet these massive crowds never seem to faze him.


“The thing that surprises me is that it doesn’t surprise me,” he said of his calm performing demeanor. “I don’t feel nervous, I feel really at home. It’s very natural to me and comfortable and exciting.”


Ashton said he is also “completely out-of-my-mind excited” for his six-week U.S. tour, which makes its third stop in Madison this Friday before playing two sold-out shows in Chicago.


“I have said for a long time that I would rather play in Kentucky on a Tuesday night than in Paris on a Saturday night,” he said in earnest. “I am in love with the North American audience.”


He said the Madison crowd in particular is in for a special treat with this show due to the notable opener.


“My good friends Beats Antique are joining the party, which is incredibly important to me because I have been friends with them for a decade and we used to bring them on tour with us all over the place,” Ashton said.  “Now they’re too big to come on tour with Bassnectar. They can sell out their own shows. And it just so happened by scheduling sake that we were able to get them on this show and it’s really exciting for me.”


Madison metal heads, bass fiends and dance junkies alike will not want to miss a Friday the 13th with Bassnectar and Beats Antique that is sure to be one for the books.

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