Saturday Night: Mad Maxx Gets Crowd Lurching at Phantasmagoria

phantasmagoria poster.jpg
Papyrus font with drop shadows and glow effects indicates a truly hardcore event
October 23, 2010
@ Gingerbread House

Better than: Actual electric shock therapy.
Raves and psytrance and dubstep shows have the most absurd, over-stimulating event posters. Some day there will be an art gallery filled with all of these shitty posters and attendees will get nostalgic for their glory days, when they still had full brain capabilities untainted by their constant exposure to cell-melting psychedelic electronica, seizure-inducing visuals and mind-enhancing chemicals. Until then though, San Francisco continues to be a hotspot for these extremely popular "electro-convulsive therapy" events, the latest of which happened this past saturday at the Gingerbread House.

Start time: One of the most effective ways to feel uncool at these events is to show up on time. The doors always open at least 45 minutes after the posters say they will, and even then, the only people who arrive that early are the un-enthused who make the room seem like a middle school dance floor, with boys and girls awkwardly standing on opposite sides of the room and in disparate groups.

Lower level: Psytrance, Goa and Progressive. Dominant dance style -- mischievious bouncy leprechaun.

Upper level: Dubstep and electro. Dominant dance style -- lurching rabid monkey.

Random thoughts on blacklight: At raves, everyone glows with love and good vibes, so it makes perfect sense to provide that feeling a physical manifestation. Glow-in-the-dark tattoos are one of the few tattoos with a function, because if you got one, you could always see in front of you in the dark.

Mad Maxx: Delorean isn't the only electronic artist from Spain worth keeping your eyes on. Mad Maxx was one of the more impressive DJs of the night, with his ominous maelstroms of pounding industrial drums and intergalactic space-trance. Emotional breaks, hypersonic buildups and the occasional spanish guitar make for a fairly diverse and powerful form of psychedelic "emotronic" that actually still sounds good the morning after.

phantasmagoria Mad Maxx.JPG
Liam Shy: This San Diego runaway found a new life in San Francisco as a major player in the trance and gothwave scene, but Sunday morning's set found him in an even more interesting electro mode. Unhindered by the Evanesence-esque string melodrama of his side project, Dissolve, the boy-wonder with the hair from mars got a chance to focus on gnashing, chaotic crashes, and experimental knob turning.
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Massage chairs: The couches in the back of the lower level are comfortable enough already, but the bass reverberations of the amps throughout the venue turn the cushions into full-on massage-chairs. I placed my notes down, left to use the bathroom, came back, and found everything sprawled on the floor. Not even inantimate objects can resist the pumping dancefloor seduction of Goa.

Space Tribe: By this point, anyone who was not on drugs was probably exhausted by the relentless hyperspeed soundwaves, myself included. The aforementioned massage chairs, hypnotic nature of the music, and the comforting warmth of raver sweat actually worked to soothe me to sleep, which is a shame because I missed what was, for many, going to be the main event of the night. Space Tribe mastermind Olli Wisdom can be counted right up there in goa/psytrance prominence with Simon Posford, releasing an album a year since 1996, and is necessary listening for anyone curious about the genre.

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The lone raver phenomenon: If you've been to a rave, you might have observed these people. They come to raves alone, dance furiously in a corner all night, don't talk to anyone, and then they leave alone. What do they go home to -- a garage in their parents' basement, perhaps? They get dressed up just enough for it to have been a fairly involved task, but not nearly enough so that they receive any compliments or conversation about their outfit. This is a primarily social event, so how in the world does it attract this sort of person?

Decor: The art on display near and around the DJ is one of the most interesting and ridiculous components of psytrance shows. There's absolutely no ambiguousness. You don't stand in front of these paintings, look pensive and wonder what it means for very long. Its message is obvious: take psychedelics, trip balls, draw, repeat. That's an order.

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The lower floor walls were covered by dripping visual recreations of The Lord of the Rings retold by Terrence Mckenna.

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And the upper level...

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Best Costume:

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Possible villain from The Silver Surfer?

Main Room (Psytrance, Goa, Progressive)
9:00 p.m. -- Saturnia
10:00 p.m. -- Michael Liu & Witchdokta
11:30 p.m. -- Mad Maxx
1:00 a.m. -- Space Tribe aka Olli Wisdom
2:30 a.m. -- Sausee & Doctor Spook

Upstairs (Dubstep, Electro House)
9:00 p.m. -- Dubster Spook & Clymax
9:45 p.m. -- Alias aka Luke Nukem & Mykies McFilthy
11:00 p.m. -- Reclipse
12:00 a.m. -- POM aka Earthsteppa
1:00 a.m. -- Liam Shy (Electro Set)
2:00 a.m. -- Lauren Keys
3:00 a.m. -- Aleks/Municpal Youth

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