Frequencies Beneath Audible Perception
Infrasound Music Festival creates a platform for some of the world’s finest in digital sound design to converge and coagulate, a true audiophile’s dream. It’s small-scale experience (~5,000 people per day) with an extremely raw approach to production, focusing solely on the audio/video presentation. There are essentially no ideas that are realized with intention of appealing to mainstream audiences. Consider the lineup, if one were to show the 2018 billed lineup around an average hometown, chances are nobody would recognize any of it. I do hesitate to think in terms of minimalism because of how fancy the production really is—for those who consider themselves true connoisseurs of quality audio/visual production, Infrasound Music Festival is near The Mecca, simply sound and light.
To set up camp my friends and I were made to shuttle our supplies and bus ourselves from a grass parking lot to the front door of the festival space—a taxing process compared to car camping festivals. I’m a fan though; it’s challenging, and it allows for and extremely cool camping experience. For example, the camping and festival spaces weren’t isolated from each other, meaning we didn’t have to walk from a camping area to a music area and back again. Plus, since we were camped so close to Mendi’s Forest there were generally awesome dubstep tunes to listen to from camp. After about 4 hours of hiking back and forth from parking to base camp, my group of about twenty friends had successfully pitched all of our collective gear and were ready to see top-notch bass music set to the hills of Highbridge Hills Sports Complex.
Out we went to explore each of the three stages and their respective vending areas at our own little paces—having just a few hours of light remaining of Opening Day Infrasound 2018. Base camp was about a quarter of a mile into the roughly one-half mile main trailhead, followed by a slight jaunt of a few hundred feet, even with Mendi’s Forest—the path leads directly through the stage area, between the soundboard and the stage itself. Entrenched directly between the Main stage at the top of the hill and the Treehouse Stage at the back of the trail, Squam Battalion had found its perfect honeycomb hideout to serve as launch point. I, myself, would be making a quick stop at Mendi’s for a short expo of their production by ‘Of The Trees’. Followed by ‘Frequent’ at Treehouse, then general aimless wandering until ‘K.L.O’. finished things off at the Ridge Stage.
Mendi’s Forest was one of the best sounding stages I’ve ever heard considering the scale and shape of the space being filled—big enough to fit a few hundred people and in the shape of a rectangle. The sound buildout at Mendi’s Forest consisted of eight Res-5 speakers that appeared to be floating on the massive amount of sub bass the subwoofer setup was pushing, eight F221 horn-loaded subs split in half by one massive BR132 compact subwoofer. In 2017 this system buildout was used at the Treehouse Stage, and for 2018 it was placed at Mendi’s for what felt to me like a dubstep holiday. As I said earlier I was camped a short walk away from this stage, well within the sound-barrier of that massive sound system allowing me to catch bits and pieces of a class selection of dubstep artists from around the world that are deeply embedded into the scene. I did unfortunately miss ‘Goth-Trad’’, but I caught ‘Ternion Sound’, ‘Hebbe’, ‘Nit Grit’, ‘Jantsen’, ‘Subdocta’, ‘Prophet’, ‘Headland’, ‘The Widdler’, and ‘Rez’. So many times, can I remember being at camp cutting rugs to the music at Mendi’s while having no clue who the artist on stage was—brilliant considering my group ultimately spent much of our time at the Treehouse Stage for its glitch hop appeal.
The Treehouse was pretty much the meta for me and my pals. We used my friend Kim’s blow-up couch to establish our nook on Friday night after Ridge Stage shut down, off in the far corner just in front of the ‘Katerthealchemist’ painting. Down the anchor went, and we basically had a home-away-from-home all weekend—spending so much time there in comparison with the rest of the grounds it began to feel like our own personal playground (you may have caught us on Sunday afternoon grilling hotdogs during Mickman). Production at the Treehouse consisted of six Res-2 speakers split between a treehouse-themed projection board that looks amazing at night. For subwoofers it was four Infrabass subs on one side of the stage and eight F218 subwoofers on the other side. As I mentioned earlier, The Treehouse Stage featured a presentation in all things glitch—one could expect to hear anything from hip hop to drum n bass, to jungle, even some house music. Anything you can think of in the 80-110 bpm range. The first show I caught was Frequent, a Denver native who’s wading deeply into the neuro-hop/halftime scene, on Thursday afternoon. Here I am, haven’t even had camp set up for a full hour and I’m already off to see an artist that I’ve been dying to see for months.
The Main Stage/Ridge Stage felt like a central point for bass music subcultures, a host space for different ideas in bass music to co-exist for a time in what felt like perfect harmony—made possible by the most incredible sound system I’ve ever experienced, Vero by Funktion One. At the Ridge Stage, one could experience a dubstep vibe much like that of Mendi’s Forest with artists like ‘Caspa’, ‘Loefah’, and V.I.V.E.K., or feel the underground glitch community through artists like Jade Cicada, ‘Kursa’, ‘Koan Sound’, ‘Bil Bless’, or ‘K.L.O.’—even a bit of live instrumentation was featured on the Vero through the ‘Grouch in Dub’ band and ‘Anomalie’. Mainstage really felt like some sort of twilight zone, like a different planet or someplace completely new and undiscovered. Whereas the other stages had a sort of homey/cozy feel about them. I very vividly remember going very close to the stage and deep into the sound during Caspa’s set on Saturday night and feeling like I was dropped in the streets of London as a fly on the wall—watching time go by in a lapse. The Vero system is a real-life time machine.
To me, Infrasound 2018 means so much; I believe I speak for the Squam in saying that it was an absolute blessing. Together we came, for a journey through time and space in search of truth through sound and light. And off we went, back to our respective lives, feeling refreshed and searching for any way to bottle the lightning that struck our hearts during our time together in Highbridge.