All music, no distractions. As ideal as the concept sounds, few events today can claim they provide an immersive experience that focuses solely on the live music. However, a new national event called LightsOut is trying to change that. Earlier this month at The Knitting Factory, LightsOut threw their first party in New York City after previous iterations in Atlanta and Charlotte, NC. West Coast bass genius EPROM headlined, with support from Pleasure and Tsimba.
Upon entering the pitch black venue, each attendee surrendered their phone into a soft, locked pouch. What followed was inexplicably awesome. I was able to chat with Blake Oakes, a member of the Good Looks Collective and the mastermind behind LightsOut, to gain some insight into what an event like this means for the EDM world.
No phones, no lights, just music. What gave you the idea?
I run a production company in Atlanta, and everything I was presenting was really influenced by the dark, UK basement culture. I wanted to replicate something like that here. The thing about the States and where electronic culture is [today], is everything's really flamboyant… I don't think turning the lights out in a room is something that nobody else has ever done, but the fact that the US is so flamboyant… it makes sense to re-present the idea as counter culture.
What makes LightsOut different from more mainstream events?
I'm real nerd on sound system culture, and original music in general. I think that you can have a large production but with half-assed music, and [most] don't care. I'm also working on shows that involve that type of production, but I think [LightOut] is just something that's refreshing. The bottom line is that digital culture is never going away. We just wanted space to take a step away from that.
We also don't need to find an elaborate place to throw a party, we can do it with local promoters. Plus, we don't need to hire a VJ or and LJ, just a box of phone covers.
In realty, we're doing it for the attendee, to see how they react to the experience.
Any plans for Volume II in NYC?
Yeah! We'll be having Tsuruda on July 8th, and on August 4th Jade Cicada will be coming out to play for Volume III.
Any dream artists you'd like to have on the bill?
Obviously having someone like Moody Good would be amazing. Since it was adopted from UK culture, it'd be awesome to get some of those guys in. I've actually pitched this to the original dons of that era, like Hatcha and Youngsta, they all really love the idea. They love it cause that's where they came from. It's about the atmosphere, community, and the sound.
How would you like the event to grow?
I've been thinking: Do we stay in this dubby, underground realm? Or do we expand it? I think that once the concept has risen, we'll be able to expand to different types of artists. We're gonna stay with what f***ing works for now though! *laughs*
Lights Out NYC worked really well. I'd like to take this around to other [cities] that are about big production and big breaks… and offer LightOut as an alternative.