Turbulence Brings Bass Music Into an Indie-Rock Bastion
Inside a dimly lit Constellation Room in Santa Ana, strobe lights flash, chest piercing bass drops and dubstep moshing create a scene that you rarely find in a venue that typically caters to national buzz bands. Smog, a founding brand of the U.S. dubstep movement, is hoping to change that one night at a time. About a month ago, the LA-based record label/event promoter unveiled Turbulence—its latest Orange County club night. On May 31, the new EDM soiree hosted the Never Say Die tour with the U.K.'s SKisM and Dodge & Fuski, while Flinch (Huntington Beach), the Juggernaut and Steady (Mission Viejo) held it down for the hometown Smog crew.
Those immersed in OC's EDM landscape might remember Turbulence in its previous incarnation as Dubtroit, which rumbled inside of Costa Mesa's Detroit Bar for the past three years. Smog closed that chapter in the event's history by hosting the End is Near tour featuring 12th Planet and drum 'n' bass legend Flinch at the Observatory in Santa Ana, rebranded its premiere OC club night and moved down the 55 freeway. Smog partner, Orange County's own Tony "Tealong" Long said that Turbulence is an evolution from Dubtroit that hopes to bring a bigger and better experience with the exploration of dubstep, moombathon and drum 'n' bass. Moombathon—originally a fusion of Dutch house music and reggaeton—is the latest craze in the bass community. "With Dubtroit, we showed Orange County that we could crush a venue on a Tuesday night with a new style of music," Tealong says. On July 20, Turbulence will host the Bros Gone Wild tour featuring moombathon in the Observatory's Constellation Room and dubstep in the main room. Noticing dubstep has hit its peak in America by becoming overly mainstream, many in the EDM industry, including Smog, feel moombathon—with its undulating rhythms geared towards females—promises a greater impact for the underground bass movement.
Hatched at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa, John Dadzie (12th Planet), Drew Smog, Danny United and Tealong (with the help of former bar stakeholder Jon Reiser) created Orange County's dubstep main event with Dubtroit. Instead of hosting the likes of Tiesto, Benny Benassi and other high-priced DJs, Smog introduced OC mainstays like Flinch, Steady, Kelly Dean, the Juggernaut, Unit and Tealong. Looking back, it appears their initial selections were well-considered.
"There must be something in the water here," Smog laughed. "Because some incredible talent has come out of this area." Placed on the last Tuesday night of every month, Smog's focus was to educate people on the progression of music, dating back to the roots of dubstep. Starting out in 2006 the Smog brand began with event promotion, hosting the only dubstep night in LA. It reinvented itself as a record label in 2007 and established the standard of LA dubstep culture created through the vision of the godfather of dubstep, the OC-bred 12th Planet. It wasn't long before Smog set its sights on working with Detroit Bar on a dubstep night.
While Dubtroit consistently drew about 450 bass fans to high impact wobbles and primal screeching, the event's founders are going bigger with Turbulence in more ways than one. A difference many may notice is Turbulence is not held on a Tuesday nor will it be free—a ticket will set you back $15 pre-sale and $25 at the door. It will also be an 18-and-over event. "Obviously we will miss the intimacy of the smaller shows, but dubstep has grown to a much larger fan base and the fees involved in producing the events have gone up as well," Smog noted.
After Reiser became owner of the Galaxy Theater, now the Observatory, Smog kept its loyalty with Reiser and Orange County. And judging by the mesh of bodies writhing and stomping in the darkness of the first event back in May, it seems the loyal Dubtroit crowd kept up its end of the bargain so far as well. United credits the cohesive community fostered in the local EDM scene.
United noticed when dubstep first surfaced in America, a lot of the EDM barriers between genres were erased—cool kids, the electro fans, hip-hop connoisseurs and other types of people began intermingling with one commonality, something he hopes will continue with Turbulence. "It's a come-as-you-are policy," United says. "It doesn't matter where you're from, or who your father is, you are accepted not based on your socio-economic status, but for your passion for music and life."
This article appeared in print as "Stepping It Up: Dubtroit's premier OC dubstep event blows up and rebrands itself as Turbulence."
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