Underground vs Mainstream – RRRAWRR!!!

July 12th, 2009


just some late night, post-party-action thoughts:


to me underground refers to an essence of attitude and perspective, a spirit of dissent mixed with inspiration, a do-it-yourself approach that bypasses traditional systems for more communal (hence more authentic) ones. And so much more. It means fearless, smart, real, true, and many other things. It can mean raw and cutting edge, even secret, even illegal. It can mean unpopular, or it can simply mean non-mainstream.

Can something underground permeate the mainstream? Can it enter it? Change it? incorporate it? Participate with it?

I think so.

Robin Hood robbed from the rich to feed the poor. He believed in a vision, an underground one, and i’m sure he often looked like he was compromising when in the end he was following his heart and serving community.

Since i began really having my own thoughts and identity as a person, i have always relished in the underground…in freaky things. In styles/genres/pheonomenon that were under the radar, sometimes frightening or obscene, sometimes violent, sometimes extreeeeeemely NON-mainstream, even anti-mainstream.

But, even with that underground spirit, i have also never looked at the world with cut and dry eyes.

There always seems to be a million different sides to a coin, multiple doorways at any pass. I do not think of myself or anything i do as mainstream. Yet i will happily enter the mainstream, just as one might enter the Matrix, on a specific mission. Somethings can’t be helped (i pay a Verizon bill, god damn them, every month. Or i pump my car full of bloody oil, or i – simply by living here – contribute to the vast monolith of the American Military Industrial Complex, with pretty much any dollar i earn or spend…) but the attitude that pervades all things can…and i stay true to that. Not because i choose that, but because i am that.

I trust myself. And a lot of the “work” i am doing on my mission is so much more complex than it appears…although it may be totally fruitless, goofy, trite, or easy to tease, i BELIEVE IN SOMETHING, and i am following my heart on that path.

That alleviates me from any stupid misperceptions someone might have about me or my motives and empowers me to flow more freely on my path. That stuff is useless.

The details of these visions and intentions are too vast to sum up quickly, but it centers on a commitment to humanistic connectedness, compassion, creativity, inspiration, the pursuit of truth, the critique of reality; and reaching harder than i thought possible for the light at the end of the tunnel, and RAAAAAAAAGING against the dying of that light.

So if i end up paying Verizon each month, know 3 things:

1. I am aware of the paradox
2. I dislike it
3. I make the educated, thoughtful decision to take the lesser of two evils

And if Bassnectar does something that seems like it wasn’t something you expected, HAVE A LITTLE FAITH. If we play a “mainstream” venue…its probably because we are on an outreach mission and want to tap in to an audience we couldn’t otherwise reach.

I heard a lot of people complain about the show we did tonight in Colorado. It was definitely a mainstream show, and here are some of the reasons i am so happy we did it:

1. We played to a whole new audience tonight. MASSIVE!
2. We enjoyed widespread radio play, including messages about Dick Cheney ON THE AIR that i highly doubt have ever been aired before. A personal pet project of mine.
3. We connected with new people, and new crew, and more importantly, we made connections that will open doorways for bigger, crazier things like this in the future.

And is that where i see Bassnectar going? Only big, sell-out mainstream corporate bullshit shows? FUCK OFF>..no Way.

No Way.


We will still play small shows, we will still do insane 3 month road tours, we will still kill it at festivals, and rage underground venues, but we also might do some wierd wedding, or a high school graduation, or a fucking street festival, or the Gay Pride Parade, or a live Jazz set at a conference for Elvis Impersonators, or the back of a truck at a protest, or the middle of nowhere with the bass knob on 11.

But it’s not all about the music for me. It’s about the community, and what feels like a movement. As cheesy as that might sound, that is genuinely how i look at it. This isn’t a music career, this is a social experiment. And it will end at some point. And before it vanishes, it will bend and change and morph and in the meantime, TRUST ME…

Im not a wanker, i am not a sell out, i am fucking CONVICTED and i’m on the warpath. If i do something you think sounds suspicious give me the benefit of the doubt, assume i am up to some shenanigans. not just some super-simple schmuck who has no self awareness or integrity.

Earlier this year i was offered 250,000$ to play 10 shows, sponsored by an alcohol company, on a kind of corporate tour.

I didn’t really even balk at the obvious objection (“oh its sponsored. by Alcohol! Oh that’s so bad”) because EVERYTHING is fucking sponsored. Our entire country is a cheap whore bought out to the last straw by anyone with enough money. We are so inverted and cheaply betrayed, it is an ILLUSION that you can function and make waves without navigating through these messy waters. Running off to nonstop cults of escapism won’t save you…and living “off the grid” does nothing for anyone else.

Anyhow, back to my story. So i was offered all this loot, and i thought, WHAT IF, we take it, and spend the typical 5,000-10,000$ on the production of each show, and after another 30% goes to management, and the crew is paid, etc, let’s say there is still 10,000$ per show. Leaving, as all you mathematicians out there know: $100,000 minimum.

So we could have kind of a community-sponsored contest of where and how to spend that money in areas that we think are important, kind of a give back mentality. Plus i bet we could have made the shows FAR MORE SAVAGE and off the hook than the corporate minds would have ever imagined.

But they passed on it, because they thought that would get too much press, and they were (UNDERSTANDABLY) doing this for promotion, not charity.

So it was bagged. But i held true to my heart.

And as for this show tonight in colorado, at a “mainstream” venue:

before this show, I had NEVER HEARD OF any of the bands playing (All American Rejects, Goldfinger, etc) …i am just not watching TV or listening to Radio, or tapped in enough to be exposed. And so when a lot of people were bitching about the lineup, i was like “huh? whats the problem”
At the end of the day, it was a wierd gig…i watched maybe 4000 people walk out in a flood when the last band played their last song. But i expected that. What i didn’t expect was the 4,000 who stayed, some who were hardcore BN fans (some who drove from Chicago JUST for that set, one of whom i believe i got to quit smoking cigarettes tonight! kung-FU!), some who were like 14 or 15 year olds and had NEVER heard anything like that before, and some who were just totally caught off guard. It felt great to connect, and we had a blast.

thanks for tuning in.

So much more to come, in all shapes and all sizes

See you all in the fuuuuuuture