7 p.m., Wednesday night — it’s the week directly preceding the onslaught of midterms — so it would only make sense that one would find students holed up in the solitary confines of their bedrooms or the library. Right?
A drove of eager bodies lined the Barn’s entryway in anticipation of ASPB’s Beat2Beat, a dance floor event playing host to three DJs: Fortune, Lakim and Pomo. Immediately upon entrance to the venue, the event’s auxiliary attractions in the Barn’s courtyard were brought to the center of attention.
First was a pop-up shop hosted by the Inland Empire Record Collective, where onlookers were encouraged to buy, sell and even trade vinyl records to the tune of a DJ spinning and scratching on a turntable — a hipster’s nirvana, if you will. The shop itself consisted of multiple crates of old-school records spanning a variety of genres.
According to ASPB Director of Concerts Joshua Ramos, the vinyl pop-up shop was offered to give students a glimpse into the passions that drive the inner workings of the music production scene. “The act of crate digging and finding unique and rare records is very cherished among producers, so we wanted to bring that same experience to the students here at UC Riverside.”
While the record shop drew a modest crowd, a vast majority of the attendees patronized the screen printing booth, in which individuals were able to receive a T-shirt branded with the Beat2Beat logo, made to order. Ramos states that, “The new electronic beat scene is very DIY in terms of production and spirit, so we wanted to add a ‘DIY’ element to the event.”
Entering the Barn, the familiar daytime sight of tables, chairs and silverware gave way to a wide open dance floor — moderately sized, but just small enough to project an intimate ambiance between spectator and performer without feeling like a sardine can. As ASPB Director of Concerts Jamie Truong puts it, “(the) smaller scale, indoor venue allowed music to emanate through the walls and fill the room to create an atmosphere that wouldn’t be acquired through an outdoor venue.”
The night’s first centerpiece was DJ Fortune, who entertained the slowly expanding crowd with an eclectic array of ethereal electronic instrumentals, eventually introducing popular hip-hop tracks such as Future’s “March Madness,” which provided a much-needed jolt of energy to the crowd.
Second on the list was Lakim, a Los Angeles-based producer/DJ hailing from the massively ubiquitous Soulection record label. Right off the bat, the audience was treated to a more upbeat and varied set by Lakim, who curated a potpourri of house, future bass, trap, hip-hop and genres that I can’t even name. On the tail end of his set, Lakim played an unreleased drum-and-bass hybrid track to the audience, stating that those in the Barn crowd were “the first ones in the whole world to hear it.” Drawing closer to the curtain call, Lakim brought the energy back when he played Jay Z and Kanye West’s “Niggas in Paris,” ending his set with a bang as the recitation of the song’s lyrics by the crowd began to drown out the sound system.
Performing for the final hour was Canadian producer/DJ Pomo, who clearly stole the show with his change-of-pace set. Eschewing the hip-hop and electronic mashups that the previous two performers established as normalcy, Pomo instead played out a bevy of varying nu-disco and electronica tracks to make the crowd wonder why a bedazzled sparkling ball wasn’t over the top of their heads. Highlights included the Haywyre remix of Odesza’s “All We Need” and a powerful, triumphant remix of Gallant’s “Weight in Gold” that I was unable to identify. It was unfortunate, however, that by the time Pomo started his set, the crowd began slowly diminishing in size — by the last song, only about a quarter of the original crowd remained, well under 100 attendees.
Despite the shrunken crowd, the remaining attendees continued to keep the energy high, capping off an event that can overall be best described as a win for ASPB, which continues to seamlessly identify student trends in the world of arts and entertainment and produce high-caliber events to match.