The Twin Cities’ reigning dubstep prince is skipping town. Which means we’ll be seeing a lot more of him.
Los Angeles has become the epicenter of the United States’ emerging market for EDM (electronic dance music), and DJs from across the world are migrating west at a Gold Rush-like clip. In July, Savage-reared Alex “Vaski” Brouwer will make the “business move” to La-La Land, five years after bass-dropping his way onto the national dubstep scene.
“There’s so many people who do what I do out there,” he said. “For collaborations and just learning everything, it’s better to be closer to all that action.”
Before packing up his mixer, the 24-year-old is stirring up some action in his hometown, launching a monthly residency in First Avenue’s Record Room on Friday. The new series runs the second Friday of each month and (relocation be damned) will continue after Vaski’s address change, arguably giving him a larger local presence than he’s had in years.
Co-signed by dubstep heavyweight Excision, Vaski broke out in 2009 with his menacing hit “Get Down,” which topped Beatport’s dubstep chart. The jet-setting DJ has since toured across North America, supporting his former label boss and as a headliner.
In 2012, Vaski started his short-lived Skyline events at the Varsity Theater, but pulled the plug after only two shows. He took a hands-on approach to planning and promoting the bimonthly events and quickly realized he had his knob-twisting hands full.
But with backing from First Avenue and local promoter Hydrive Shows, this time Vaski will concentrate on bringing in local and national guest DJs and his own floor-shaking sets, which he will use to test new material.
Cross-country move aside, it’s a pivotal time in Vaski’s career. After releasing four dark and bludgeoning EPs on Excision’s Rottun Recordings, Vaski is pushing his Richter scale-registering sound in new directions. While not without its punishing low end, February’s “The Explorer” EP is heavy on electro-house and includes the crunchy, hip-hop-inspired “The Nile.” He’s shopping another EP’s worth of material, which the maturing producer says is even more eclectic.
“Instead of making music that’s based completely on the bass lines, I’ve done a lot of vocal sampling and chopping,” he said. “The new stuff that I’ve made is based entirely on that. There’s still bass, but it’s not as aggressive as it was before.”
It’s safe to expect a steady diet of seismic bass drops anytime Vaski is behind the decks. But as dubstep’s popularity has waned in favor of trap and other hybrid forms of bass music, his DJ sets have evolved, too. His genre wandering is partially fueled by a dearth of fresh, original dubstep tracks, he said. “Back when it was first coming out, that wasn’t the case at all. You could play an hour of dubstep and there were all these tracks that sounded different. Now it all kind of sounds the same.”
While downtown Minneapolis’ the Loft — ground zero for the local dubstep scene — might have been a more obvious venue for Vaski to hold court each month, he said First Avenue is somewhat of a return to his roots. His formative nightclub experiences were at the Moon Goons’ now-defunct Honeymoon parties in the Record Room (then the VIP room), which taught him about clubgoers’ fashionably late habits.
“I remember we went shortly after my 18th birthday,” he recalled. “We saw online that it started at 10 [p.m.]. We didn’t want to be late so we got there at 9:30 [p.m.] and we’re like, ‘Why is nobody here?’ We totally didn’t understand that’s just not how you go out. It starts then, but you go later.”
Assuming Vaski’s as punctual to those LAX-MSP flights, it will be like he never left.
10 p.m., Fri., $10, 18-plus, Record Room at First Avenue, 701 1st Av. N., Mpls., 612-332-1775, www.first-avenue.com
Roughly one year after a fire forced the closing of Buster’s on 28th, the popular beer and burger haven looks to reopen. This week the south Minneapolis pub took to Facebook to announce its plans to resume pint pouring July 7. A message left at the bar was not immediately returned. But in a post earlier this year, the patty flippers indicated that during the renovations they would also expand the kitchen, bathrooms and number of tap handles. Fingers crossed that we’ll be eating an Elián González (Buster’s Cuban sandwich, that is) ASAP.
Bikes, beer, worthy cause
Two Minneapolis breweries are throwing big bashes Saturday. On the south side, Harriet Brewing hosts the Spring Spread Food Truck Rally, with 16 food trucks and live music in the taproom starting at noon followed by a 7 p.m. after-party ($5 cover, free with rally wristband). A portion of the proceeds benefits Open Arms. (Noon Sat., 3036 Minnehaha Av. S., Mpls., 612-315-4633, www.harrietbrewing.com.) Part of Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild’s 10,000 Minutes of Minnesota Craft Beer, Fulton’s Gran Fondo begins with a 100-mile bike ride (9 a.m., $25) departing from the brewery’s second northeast Minneapolis location, with a free post-ride block party at the new site.
2-8 p.m., Sat., 2540 2nd St. NE, Mpls., www.fultongranfondo.com
Minnesota keeps getting boozier, as another pair of locally crafted spirits hits shelves this week. Duluth’s Vikre Distillery rolls out its Øvrevann aquavit — a caraway-flavored Scandinavian liquor — while Far North Spirits of Hallock, Minn., releases its Ålander spiced rum in time for Dark n’ Stormy season (though if you ask us, it’s always Dark n’ Stormy season). Both northern Minnesota distilleries are run by husband-wife teams that launched with their respective gins, or in Vikre’s case, three different gins in the past six months. Vikre (pronounced veek-ruh) also plans to open its Canal Park distillery for tours and tastings May 24.
Michael Rietmulder writes about bars, beer and nightlife.