Before you even got dropped off for check-in, a black flag fluttered among other insignias of the world at the Barcelo Maya Grand Resort’s main entrance. An all-too familiar symbol: the omnipresent logo known as the bassdrop. It was this beacon that welcomed us to what would be one of the single greatest music events I’ve ever experienced; Bassnectar’s destination-festival Deja Voom. A bombastic event nestled along the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in the Riviera Maya.
Once on site, the palm-tree adorned grounds were abuzz with friendly faces, music from every direction, and the laughs and cheers of bassheads reuniting with friends who had all ventured down to paradise. The resort itself was a massive, sprawling collection of buildings, pools, bars, and activity centers.
The first day was an incredible introduction, the first four acts on the main stage were Telefon Tel Aviv, Elohim, Beats Antique (Ott. was originally scheduled in this place, but had to be swapped to Friday), and of course, Bassnectar. As soon as you entered the main stage area, rows of resort staff lined the sand with trays full of assorted drinks: Margaritas, Pina Coladas, Daquiris, and cervesas (beer) as far as the eye could see. The sun was still setting, and the sea was open and expansive immediately beside us. Along the path toward the main stage was a collection of Mexican fare including al pastor, churros, elote (Mexican street corn), and taco stands (all-inclusive of course).
My group was a bit slow getting inside (and missed Telefon Tel Aviv) but we reached the epicenter of the event in time to catch most of Elohim’s set, which was a surprisingly perfect way to start the weekend. She’s an incredible vocalist whose future-bass influenced sound was a warm welcome to the journey we were all about to set off on. The sun slowly sunk below the horizon as we danced away in the sand. As night fell, and Beats Antique took the stage, the palm trees around us began to glow with colorful lights, and the crowd swelled for the main event. I must say, Beats Antique’s world sounds and incredible production were perfectly fitting for the setting we were in. Something so surreal about being able to look up at the stars and hear the ocean when the music dimmed was something out of a dream.
When their set ended, and the familiar cloud of excitement that accompanies any Bassnectar event took hold, I was astonished at just how much room we all still had around us. The crowd was deep (and huge) but there was never a moment where you couldn’t easily move within it and dance without a worry of knocking someone else over. As reported in his AMA a few weeks back, Bassnectar’s night one performance was far more of a “DJ Lorin” set than anything else. He hardly played any originals, save for two or three downtempo tracks like “Science Fiction”, “In The Beginning (2016 version)”, and a new, incredibly beautiful track, allegedly entitled “Irresistible Force.” He did, however, give us the perfect tease for what the rest of the weekend would entail by closing out his set with a FAT “Heads Up (West Coast Lo-Fi Remix).”
Did I mention that throughout the entire night at the beach stage, staff members with trays full of beverages were constantly weaving in and out, bringing joy in the form of alcoholic beverages to everyone in the crowd? Because that was definitely a thing.
As we meandered back to the resort, it was time to plan the late night portion of the events. These sets were hosted in some of the resort’s night clubs and theaters, aptly renamed the Oasis, the Deja Room, the Voom Room, and the Lo-Fi Room. There were a slew of awesome producers slated to play, including 12th Planet, Shlump, Luzcid as well as a Slug Wife takeover with Kursa, Seppa, and Broken Note. The latter is where I ended up for a delectable collection of incredible UK Bass. Kursa and crew absolutely threw down in the Voom Room, and made sure that night one ended on the absolute highest (sonically, lowest) of notes.
Whew. Now that we’ve gotten through Day ONE. Let’s get to the pool parties.
Day two was just gorgeous. Waking up mid-morning to 85 degrees, barely any clouds, and the reverberations of bass slicing through the air in paradise!? I must have been dreaming. Friday was kicked off by some breakfast, and a trip to catch Ott.’s pool party. I have to tell you, there was nothing like soaking up that gorgeous psy-bass while surrounded by pool floats and fellow voomers with drinks in hand. The water was warm, the beats were fantastic, and everyone was clearly having the time of their lives.
He played an excellent set for an hour before El Papachango took over. I didn’t get to enjoy much of the set because, at the time, ill.Gates was putting on a production workshop in the Haven and I absolutely had to catch that. It was an excellent breakdown of production techniques, and a true discussion of how to motivate yourself and become a better producer. He truly cares about his students, and genuinely seems driven to help anyone and everyone who wants to learn.
After that it was a quick dinner, and a dash to the beach to catch a beautiful reprise of Ott. – complete with sunset. Although his set was similar to the pool party, it was too beautiful not to enjoy while on the beach, with the sun setting, with almost NO one else around to impede your dancing and enjoyment. Following up his otherworldly psychedelia was The Glitch Mob. I know I’m super late to this game, but it was my first time really listening to, or seeing them live, and the set was fantastic! They’ve got such a unique sound that really blends both filthy bass drops with robotic rhythms and melodies. The whole lineup of that night (Ott., Glitch Mob, Rezz, and Bassnectar) seemed like a procession of genres from organic to more and more futuristic and synthetic in terms of sound.
I know for a fact that most people like to dismiss Rezz. But she continues to provide me with excellent performances every time I see her. No, she didn’t play “the same set as always.” Knock that off. Dropped into her set, however, was an awesome “In The Beginning” by Zeds Dead. That certainly got many of the Bassheads moving. She tore through an impressive mid-tempo set that was accompanied by many brand new visuals, as well as some of the oldies but goodies. But night two grew to a fever pitch when she left the stage and team Nectar began building once again.
Where night one left off, night two picked right back up. Bassnectar teased Caspa’s “Louder (VIP)” before transitioning into a MASSIVE “Zodgilla.” From here it was more chaos as the man built hype from one to the next, before dropping yet another brand new unreleased track: his most recent collaboration with Jantsen entitled “BOUTTA GET HECTIC,” which, as you can imagine was just complete lunacy.
Other gems of the set were a FAT “Hologram,” “Empathy,” and the most magical 2019 version of Michael Franti and Spearhead’s “Skin on the Drum (Bassnectar Remix).” This was one journey of a set.
The late night sets included a Glitch Mob downtempo set in the Oasis, an INCREDIBLE ill.Gates throwdown in the Voom Room. I wandered more of the resort, and spent a great bit of time joining fellow bassheads for dancing and music on the beach into the late late hours of the morning before passing out. (P.S. there is nothing more incredible than sitting on the beach, by the water, staring off into an endless sea of stars while your favorite people play your favorite music around you.)
By the time I awoke on Saturday, things were already getting underway at the Pirate Ship party (which was excitedly RIGHT outside my balcony). FFINN (Kursa’s wife) got the party going on a long list of artists including Broken Note, Conrank, Jantsen, Digital Ethos, ill.Gates, Bukez Finezt, and a special one hour set from Yheti. Recovering from a bout of heat exhaustion (I made the rookie mistake of not hydrating enough the day before), I was able to sit and enjoy a full day of bass music from the comfort of my balcony while I recovered for night three.
The only downside to this was that I missed the entire Dirtybird Pool Party featuring Claude Vonstroke, Ardalan, and Christian Martin. It looked, and sounded like an absolute blast, and I heard that even the most staunch of bassheads were able to get down and dirty with the Dirtybird Players.
All was not lost for myself however, as I was able to make it down to the beach stage, properly recovered and ready to rage by the time Dirtybird Daddy Claude Vonstroke went on to once again show why he and his homies are the best at what they do when it comes to house music. The whole crowd was dancing, and getting down, and he even ended his set with some Barclay Crenshaw vibes by dropping Tiedye Ky’s “Never Spin” (Feat. Pipus), in a great tribute. Following up the house were dubstep heavyweights Digital Mystikz (Mala & Coki). They thundered through a purely insane set of deep dubstep that perfectly introduced the theme of the night: unrelenting bass bangers. Digital Mystikz took my soul, and made me a believer that night on the beach, and I will forever go to check out their sets. Pure UK Dub at its finest.
But the night wasn’t over; Bassnectar worked all weekend to lull us into a sense of expectation and we were not prepared for what was to follow. From the moment he took the stage for the final set of the weekend, there was something in the air that made everyone absolutely sure that this was about to be something else. In big letters on the screen, “ARE, YOU, READY?” began pulsing to the swells and atmospheres Lorin started to weave. “What?”, perhaps? Then the screen transitioned to green symbols descending with a countdown on it. “Oh, we must be getting ‘The Matrix,’ of course.” Before we could breathe, the speakers exploded and “Encore” came barreling down upon us with some of the heaviest sound of the weekend. A quick transition into “Plugged In” (with arguably the best visuals I’ve ever seen in my life) proved that we had no way to prepare for what we were getting into.
For the next hour and a half, we were subjected to an unrelenting force of nature, as Bassnectar and his team pummelled us with banger after banger. This was my 24th set, and I can say without a doubt that it was far and away the heaviest and most consistently bombastic collection of tracks I’ve seen him play. He touched on every genre, from beautiful “Arps of Revolucion” to deep dub and trap – it was a constant behemoth of bass that made even the downtempo tracks reverberate through your soul with the power of a “Raw Charles” second drop. By the time he hit “Poppin Shit” from Big Chocolate, it was gloves off completely. A three song string of “Cozza Frenzy,” Bro Safari and UFO!’s “ET Finger,” and a brand new collab with Peekaboo nearly knocked the whole crowd off its feet.
The final section of the set gave all the bassheads what they’d come for nothing but Bassnectar tracks with impeccable mixing. “Heavyweight Sound,” “Whiplash,” “Dream Catcher,” “Teleport Massive,” and “Carried Away.” Just when we thought we had a moment to breathe, the man did exactly what we should have expected and blasted us away one more time with the insane “Ace of Spades” remix (the very same he closed out AC night 2 with back in 2017).
Words couldn’t describe it. My friends and I (and I’m sure everyone in the damn crowd), left with their brains jumbled and shocked at what we’d just witnessed. There were plenty of other acts to check out the rest of the night but (due to some technical difficulties) one of the rooms was shut down, and lines to get into the remaining venues became unbearable. Instead, we wandered around the resort trying to digest the madness that had just ensued while enjoying our final night in paradise.
There are dozens of rumors circulating about location, timing, and every other aspect of the next Deja Voom, but I can assure you one thing: Bassnectar has already said that Deja Voom will be back and I guarantee I will be back as well.
All photographs ©️ ALIVE Coverage
EDIT: An earlier version of this article listed “Never Spin (Feat PIPUS)” by Tiedye Ky as a Barclay Crenshaw edit, but it was in fact the original mix.
Were you there? What was your favorite memory of the weekend? What did you like? What would you change?
Sound off in the comments below!