Subtle Events Warehouse/Block Party tested my endurance and opened me up to the breathtaking world of local Atlanta house and techno talent!
Little could prepare my body, mind, and soul for the auditory expedition that would unfold at the inaugural Subtle Events Warehouse/Block Party. Held at the Westside Cultural Arts Center on Saturday, August 10, the lineup included an array of Dirtybird players, a Drumcode beatmaker, and regional dance floor dynamos. More than 30+ artists would ultimately take their place behind the decks as the party raged from 2pm-4am!
If you are a fan of the underground sounds, this was an event that spoke volumes to the heart, bidding us to commune in celebration for our unique family bond. Of course, there was no way that I would miss this event as I had recently moved to the great city of Atlanta, dying to immerse myself into everything the local scene has to offer. So, join me as I paint a picture of all the intense, high octane, fun-filled moments that made my first Subtle Events experience one for the history books!
On arrival, the first thing that crossed my mind was how the location that Subtle Events picked couldn’t have been more perfect.
Tucked into what seemed to be a very industrial part of town, the mood was set for the subterranean spirits to party on the grounds, free of any and all inhibitions. Spread out across three very unique stages, we saw the tech-house fans get their fix in the Downstairs Warehouse.
This was my favorite spot as the room was cool and inviting, full of house-friendly moving heads to splash the dance floor with the perfect ambiance. Everywhere you turned you could find resting areas to stretch your sore feet, a welcome piece of the puzzle as this was a twelve-hour test of energy and endurance.
Behind the dance floor, a perfectly placed bar stretched across the venue that offered wallet-friendly options to keep us hydrated.
While the prices were great, one thing that did pique my interest was the fluctuation in price as the night raged on. That being said, there was never a time in which I paid more than $10 for a delicious vodka cranberry, so for that, I am appreciative.
To keep our bellies full, all you had to do was cross the dance floor to the back door that would lead us down to the taco truck. I would be lying if I said that the burritos and quesadillas were not worth every penny. After a nice meal and a few sips from my cocktail, we would make our way back into the downstairs warehouse to check out the beautiful art on display, the vendors selling all sorts of festival swag, and the gravity massage that had many feeling loose as a goose and ready to rave!
The Misting Tree proved its worth on one of the hottest days of the week.
Moving to the outside stage dubbed The Misting Tree, once again we were met with comfortable surroundings, even though the temperatures were spanning into the high 90’s. With a festival inspired canopy covering the bar that reached across the dance floor, party animals could dance to their heart’s content as misters rained down the relief as we fought the baking sun. This would be the spot to be as the sun dipped below the horizon, offering a Campout-inspired vibe that I will get into later in this review.
In this locale, you could find anything from a CBD station to a vendor selling sweet snowcones. Those were probably the two most important additions as the weather was truly unrelenting. After making a purchase from each of these vendors I was armed with the energy to bust a move among the billowing essence of the underground! And so, it was time to move on to the final stage and immerse myself in a guttural techno domain.
The final stage could be found in the Upstairs Warehouse, the spot for techno insanity.
Now, this stage didn’t come without a flub and as many of us who have been in the scene long enough will know, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. On set up, it became clear that the air conditioner unit was malfunctioning. The Subtle guys stayed locked in and focused on the issue, knowing that it could turn into a health hazard with the Atlanta summer heat. Everyone stayed very positive as we knew that the organizers would not let us down. Before we knew it, there was a new unit delivered and was up and running by the time Ncturnal took the stage.
While it was still warm in the Upstairs Warehouse, it was much more manageable and began to draw people back into the space. I remember the moment that the air began to flood through the unit as everyone let out a celebratory roar, embracing with hugs, knowing the party had been saved! With the focus back on the majesty of the techno chug, I could aim my gaze to the elements that made this space truly pop.
As with the other stages, the Upstairs Warehouse provided a bar area that you could find tucked in the back corner, providing everything you need to keep your techno experience uninhibited. There were even tall tables to post up if you wanted to place your drink down for a moment while you bust a move.
The lasers, presented by Ncturnal, were spectacular. Splashing vivid colors among the blacked-out, window free area, I truly felt like I was on another planet. I found myself hypnotized as the immaculate sound quality filled the room with a pounding that I could feel in every cell throughout my body. It gives me shivers just thinking about it.
Since we are on the topic, it is time to dig in deep with the acts that took me on a roller coaster ride of emotion!
First, let me start off by saying that everyone who took to the stages that day came correct with an arsenal of tunes that kept the crowds in high spirits for the entire duration. It was impossible to take it easy as my day took flight at the outside Misting Tree stage with Nick Hayes. Filling the airwaves with an Anjuna-esque progressive house style that I absolutely adore, Nick Hayes knew exactly how to set the tone, hitting us right in the feels.
Now, as mentioned before, at this point the techno warehouse had succumbed to the air conditioner issues. While it was very hot up there, nothing could keep me from sucking it up and enjoying the first half of ZeXter, a dear friend and an amazing techno DJ. And boy, did he deliver the fire. It was almost as if his techno offerings were adding to the heat, a deep trip into counter dimensions of the darkest design.
It was now time to cool off in the Downstairs Warehouse and settle in for some unpretentious feel-good music.
White on Rice & Otica, followed by Diskull had me moving, grooving and living my best life. It was during these sets that the house family would begin to unleash the shenanigans, forming dance circles and creating a vibe that was fully inclusive, warm, and inviting. I believe I even saw a wild bunny man running around the dance floor. Ah, yes, the house family truly knows how to take the atmosphere to wacky levels!
Looking at the clock it was time to escape back to the techno warehouse to catch my friend Ncturnal. It had been a few years since I saw him play at Imagine Music Festival and realizing that although trance runs deep through his blood, this is a man that can certainly step up to the plate when it comes to delivering the techno goods. He was in the zone on this night, unleashing a set that stood out as my winner for the most unique, blurring the lines of genre specifics.
With darkness upon us, it was time to get lit!
I truly believe that the night got shoved straight up into Campout territory when local legends Ralph & Louie unleashed a plethora of genuine house-focused stress-melters at the outside stage. The sun was now officially below the horizon, the fire poi team was showing off their skills, and the ravers were fully connected to the experience surrounding them.
In fact, the vibes were so on point that in a brief moment of insecurity (I deal with a bit of social anxiety from time to time) a girl standing next to me told me to look up as the misters soaked our bodies and shout out to the universe! It was a moment I will never forget.
From there it was time to go back to the Downstairs Warehouse as Dirtybird’s VNSSA was preparing to take the stage.
I would like to imagine that we have all experienced those sets in which we leave in a fog, spun out by the raw insanity and divine perfection of a particular setlist. Well, my friends, VNSSA delivered that experience. She showed up on that night with a set full of disco-inspired classics and modern-day tech-house party pumpers that blended together in a way that knocked me straight out of my mind. I can tell that this girl is going to be a superstar for many years to come.
All through the night, there wasn’t a stagnant body as the music continued to get better and better.
While BOT & Dateless picked up where VNSSA left off, I had to show some love for the other brand that has me titillated with joy these days. Of course, I am speaking of Drumcode, and Skober was the chosen entity to bring the house down with an exploration of techno in its most honest form. By this time, the crowd had begun to thin as a full day of raging had begun to take its toll, but the lack of bodies on the dance floor did not hinder his set by any means. He went full in, making his Atlanta affair one that he can surely be proud of.
At this point, I had no idea how I was still standing but in true form, I had to keep going to the very end.
Kill Frenzy was probably the best way to end the night as his consistent driving rhythms and quirky sound selections gave the intimate crowd the final push into dance hysteria. What was special about this particular set was that there was truly only a handful of us left but the folks that were present kept the good vibes flowing like water. With one final cheer and a few spastic dance moves by yours truly, I said my goodbyes and dragged my tired butt back to the car.
All in all, the Subtle Events Warehouse/Block Party was an adventure of epic proportions.
If I was to take a look at the event as a whole, I am proud to call Subtle Events my go-to in Atlanta when it comes to the house and techno realm. If you put aside the minor issues as most local events face, the Subtle Events team put together an experience that would bond the family together under the lights and lasers. It was a true roller coaster ride of genres and talent that kept my interest locked in from arrival to closing.
Above all, it was a socially safe space, designed to keep us moving and mingling among the grounds as we shook our tail feathers, forged new friendships, and reunited with old friends. Maybe the biggest thing that I will take away from this experience is that I am now part of an amazing local scene that is both flourishing and welcoming to all who wants to get lost in the underground! Hats off to everyone involved in making this party a reality.