Festival goers howled at the moon for that fantastic October event
We find the Pacific Northwest fiending for USC‘s Freaknight Festival in expecting to receive more treats than tricks with headliners straight from their goodie bag with the likes of Marshmello, Knife Party, Yellow Claw and Steve Aoki; along with haunted festivities and rides which made to be one of the most fearfully delightful events of Seattle.
I have gone to a couple Freaknights to date but this year’s layout was probably one of the best that I have seen. The main stage had a lot of space in the first room as well as a silent disco with the carnival rides closer to the back wall into the entrance of the trance stage. The bass cave’s entrance was across the room from the GA entrance and had a lot of positive upgrades to the sound system as a result of the complaints at Resolution 2018. The additional room to the bass cave also made it much more bearable than the cramped area as in Freaknight 2017. But in all, I was very impressed with the amount of positive changes that USC brought this time around as it proved that they were trying to do right for every complaint they received in the past.
We arrived at the event around 730 to catch Bonnie X Clyde‘s set while waiting on friends but unfortunately I was really taking in the production of the main room and its layout before the party became a mad house, so I wasn’t too focused on the set itself. After some photo ops, I had immediately lost my Fan Clan group and decided to go to the trance stage so I could be catch Mija. The stage wasn’t too crowded but even being the smallest space in the building, her filthy house music had a crowd of shufflers and twisting lasers welcoming anyone who entered. It was obvious the set was a bit tailored to the Samhain as the visuals consisted of bloody horrific faces and masks that danced in deep rhythm. Though I have seen Mija once, the set that was true to her form as I was enjoying myself, but I couldn’t help to feel underwhelmed as I expected a bit more from her.
I was excited to see Steve Aoki first the very time and for as long as this man has been around the scene, I wanted to see if he lived up to the hype people built him up to be. Through the crowd, I got a decent perspective of the main stage and I noticed how well it was set up, and no matter the angle, you could get a good view of the visual screens set up without people blocking. Nonetheless,I wasn’t blown away by his visuals but the entire crowd was a nonstop party that didn’t cease from having a blast. Each one of his songs embodied good vibes and good times as everybody listened from well established classics to new hits. He even played “Waste It On Me Feat” by BTS for the first time live and shortly followed it up by throwing 10 cakes into the crowd. I don’t feel like there was a single person in that audience that didn’t end up with frosting in some undesirable areas.
Next on was Knife Party who was one of the main headliners in my eyes. I saw them for the first time at Lucky 2017 where they exceeded my expectations by a landslide. Unfortunately, this time around I was only able to catch about 15 minutes of their set, but what an amazing 15 minutes it was. They had some of the best light shows of the night as the lasers always seemed to be perfectly in sync with their dubstep drops and electro house beats. They constantly shifted between some hardstyle portions that didn’t seem too hard to dance to and it transition well onto other sounds. Missing the rest of their set was my only regret of the entire night as we left to see Space Jesus.
This was my third time seeing Space Jesus and though I am a fan of some of his music, I have yet to enjoy him live because the transitioning seemed to be a bit off. The only part of the set I found myself enjoying was when he played “This is Halloween” from the Nightmare Before Christmas. Even though I didn’t like the set, I will have to give Space Jesus the award for some of the oddest visuals I’ve ever seen. I would recommend seeing him live just to experience his visuals at least once as no description could ever do him justice, but I’ll try my best to. The part that really engraved itself into my memory was when there was what looked like a mix between a flower and a woman’s vagina. It then sprouted eyes and the stem turned out to be the neck to the head of this absurd creature. The head then kept creeping around the corners of the screen as it never lost eye contact with the crowd. I simply couldn’t comprehend what I was looking at and being in the scene for as long as I have, I don’t find myself saying that often.
Next at the bass stage was Pegboard Nerds, who I’ve been trying to see since Freaknight of 2016. I regretted not seeing them sooner as I found myself enjoying every single second of their set. Their visuals were super colorful and felt reminiscent of classic NES games. Their lasers formed pixelated messes onto the ceiling of the room as the colors of the screen created a warm and friendly glow that beamed all the way to the back. One of my favorite moments was when they played their version of “Purple People Eater”. As its campiness and heavy hitting bass mixed so many different genres and sounds, I was almost hypnotized to each phase the song entered. Another moment I should mention is when they played Knife Party‘s “Until They Kick Us Out” and were able to blend it so well into their mix that it sounded as if the song could be their own.
Lastly, we all made sure to catch Marshmello at the mainstage since he has not been in the Pacific Northwest for quite some time. I las saw him a few years ago at Bumbershoot but I remember being very displeased at the time. Since then, I have been avoiding his music like the plague but I knew I should give him another shot since it had been so long. Marshmello at Freaknight 2018 was one of the happiest sets I have experienced to date. I was blown away from how effortless his transitions were, from classic throwbacks like Bon Jovi to hard hitting bass artists like Excision. His mixing skill was done so effortlessly like a pre-recorded set. The lasers and lights reflected every spectrum in the rainbow as balloons and confetti never seemed to stop raining throughout the entire set. I had avoided “Happier” when all of my friends recommended I listened to it, only because I felt that I wouldn’t enjoy how mainstream it had become; however, I was so impressed as the lyrics were cycled through on the screen as the entire crowd sang in unison. That moment is one of the few I’ve experienced in raving that I would do anything to go back to. There was just so much happiness in one audience that I wish it could’ve have replayed over and over until the end of time. His mashup of the Killers‘ “Mr Brightside” and Fox Stevenson‘s “I miss you” were one of my favorite combinations of any two songs to date. I ate my words about Marshmello and I was now converted into wanting to see another one of his sets as soon as possible.
Finally as the night dwindled down, there was still a giant net of balloons that was yet to be released. Everyone expected there to be an encore as they couldn’t take their eyes off the inflatable mass that was right above our heads. Marshmello never came back on stage and you could tell some of the crowd was disappointed, but I felt more than satisfied with how the night had ended. We finally were able to disperse, and I am certain every ghouls and goblins in the room will return to make sure they witness those balloons drop at USC’s Resolution 2019.