It’s midnight on a Saturday, and robots are attacking my face. I can feel them pumping polarized waves into my eardrums, behind my eyes, and deep into the pit of my stomach, it’s only contents a Jimmy John’s sub and whiskey tonic. I’m powerless to escape the blitzkrieg firepower penetrating my forehead, and finally I give in. Dubstep has won.
At least that’s how I feel watching the people around me feign epilepsy and call it dancing. Let me be clear, I don’t hate dubstep. In 9th grade, when my friend’s sister brought new music home from college, I was awestruck by the unbelievable innovation of artists like Pretty Lights, Bassnectar, and Random Rab. Rusko’s “Cockney Thug” blasted from my Couzens dorm room as a college freshman, earning me weird looks from passersby and fistbumps from mullet-sporting janitors (true story).
But somewhere along the way I became an old codger. A Woodstock hippie wistfully recounting the days where “womp womp actually meant something.” To put it bluntly, I was a jackass. Music Elitist had never been a title I was ashamed of, but being condescending about EDM? That was a new low.
It all started with Skrillex (pronunciation: skree-yay, from the French for “I can’t hear you, speak louder”). He was a small bother at first; nothing more than a musical fruit fly occasionally invading my kitchen. After a few millions plays of “Cinema” at frat and geed parties alike though, I could no longer handle the skull-fracturing bass. Now, I don’t know what it would sound like if a washing machine and a dryer bumped uglies, but something tells me Skrillex’s rollercoaster bass drops are close. It seemed that music had grown out of its childish infatuation with chords and instruments, and had wandered into the binary realm.
I decided to escape. I retreated to my private musical monastery, a place where Wu-Tang is king and everyone knows who DJ Shadow is. It’s a false reality populated by lonely whiteboys, dust-covered cratediggers, and unread hipster blogs. Bruce Lee has a big following there, and hazy clouds of smoke follow people around like thought bubbles.
But it gets lonely. Do you know how hard it is to consciously avoid having fun? It’s exhausting to scowl while your friends are too drunk to notice. And when you finally get control of the soundtrack, it is inevitable that sorority girls will hate your music. You have two choices: complain non-stop or shake a leg.
I proudly write to you reporting that I chose the latter. I still don’t love Skrillex, Nero, or most of the other dubstep I hear around town, but I’ve learned to have a good time. For one, dubstep can reveal someone’s true character. The bass acts like an adrenaline rush, forcing people into a musical “fight or flight.” A “fight or funk,” some might say (that was corny, I’m sorry). Some people go wild and break things. Some people show off their rhythm by actually dancing well (a rare feat). And some people sit there and absorb the bass, happily allowing the low frequency to tickle them in weird places.
I also learned that not all dubstep is of the machine-gun ilk. Artists like Rustie, Shlohmo, and the entire British scene, make music that will not make your ears bleed. It’s often dark and brooding, better paired with Dostoyevsky than Rihanna.
As I’ve meandered my way through college, I’ve learned a few things. Never let a red cup accompany you into the street. Buy as many Pizza Bob’s milkshakes as you can. And, most importantly, learn to deal with what you don’t like. I thought I didn’t like dubstep, but I realized I just don’t like bad dubstep. Maybe I’m lying to myself, but I think I’m ready to stick my analog foot into the digital river. I will always like “real” music more than the extraterrestrial sex noises that inhabit dubstep, but I think that I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords (Simpsons reference).
By: Andrew Eckhous
(Photo by Corey-Adam Crowley under a Creative Commons license)