This is The Stranger's annual regrets issue, so I'm obligated to roll out a litany of negative observations, gripes, and shit talk. I would love to fill this column with as much venom as I can muster, but you know what? From an electronic-music fan's perspective, 2010 was a great year, both locally and internationally. As another year fades out, I find myself with not much to complain about. Sincere apologies.
But if there was a downside to the year in electronic music, it sprang from the difficulties of dealing with a glut of clubbing options and great music—way too much coming out every week to process all of it (can that sentiment be any more first-world-problems-y?). Decibel Festival represents the epitome of this situation. This year, it expanded to five days/nights from its usual four, increasing by 25 percent the number of spectacular performances one had to maneuver stealthily to witness. Sean Horton and company's staff stepped up in 2010 to deliver their most professionally run fest in Decibel's eight-year existence, and aesthetically speaking, it was one of its finest (I think 2007 and 2009 might have it beat).
One legit bummer for the scene was the closing of Grey Gallery, as that Capitol Hill bar/art space hosted several excellent electronic-oriented nights per week. It had become perhaps the place for open-minded music obsessives to gather. One hopes that owner Erik Guttridge can find another spot in which to foster adventurous DJing concepts.
In Grey's absence, the Living Room blossomed as a possible void-filler for seriously outré DJ nights that don't need to keep dance floors busy. Spearheaded by DJ Verse (aka Josh Roberts), the Living Room has become a beacon of eclectic sonic delights. His Show & Tell bimonthly spotlights Seattle's wealth of inventive live electronic music and challenging DJs. Verse also paved the way for the Naturebot (Ian Scot Price) and Electrosect (Patrick Haenelt) to begin Voltage Control, a bimonthly focusing on electronic music created before 1983. Almost concurrently and in a similar vein (but mostly dealing with minimal cold wave), Dr. Troy and Nary Guman began Pop Surgery in the Rendezvous' Grotto. And then there's the Baltic Room's resurgence as a cynosure of forward-thinking bass-centric music.
Speaking of which, this week brings two awesome shows to that venue. New Year's Eve, Detroit's Luke Hess and local luminaries Jon McMillion and Lusine will usher in 2011 with some of the most inventive techno you'll hear on this debaucherous night. And on January 5, Decibel and Ill Cosby's Car Crash Set label (another reason 2010 ruled, by the way) enlist England's Ramadanman, the Hessle Audio boss who's finessing dubstep into labyrinthine, novel configurations. Get heady!
Sorry if this Data Breaker comes off as Pollyannaish. The forces of crapitude will just have to try harder next year.