After the big ol’ hullabaloo that Bassnectar caused at Red Rocks last year, you would think that every booking agent, venue manager, city official and their dogs would be prepared for the deep, bassy rumblings that the DJ and producer Lorin Ashton creates.
Last September, Bassnectar performed at Red Rocks and was less than delighted with the sound-level restrictions imposed upon him, leading him to take to Twitter and spout a bunch of guff about the venue no longer hosting EDM events or, if they do, the bass being virtually nonexistent.
“Any show in 2016 at Red Rocks will have virtually no bass. Sad but true. Other than ambient music or rock, the venue is a bust sadly :(,” he tweeted at @bassnectar (sad face included).
He also tweeted, “But we're putting together plans for something super magical in Colorado where we can play at a decent volume and gather the freaks in 2016.”
That place, apparently, was Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, where Bassnectar hosted a two-day festival called Bass Center, but as a report on CBS on Monday night pointed out, local residents and officiants were less than prepared.
“I thought it was an earthquake. I looked and realized it was bass,” said local resident Joe Quillin in a complaint to the city council. “To issue a permit for that is ridiculous.”
Commerce City mayor Sean Ford said that the city didn’t research the artist before issuing the permit but said, “Commerce City imposed the most stringent ordinances possible to permit the event.”
Another neighbor, Scott Wilson, recorded the sound levels at 72 decibels and said that it was not a “friendly event" (despite reports from attendees that Bass Center is all about positive communal vibes; see below).
Mayor Ford has refused to condemn the event, stating that Dick’s Sporting Good Park was established in a remote area and that there “has to be a reasonable expectation that it is going to be loud.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Commerce City public-information office representative Julie Elko on Tuesday, who told us, “City staff from various departments such as building safety, business licensing, police, public works, planning, etc, reviewed the organized event permit submitted by Kroenke Sports for the Bassnectar event. The fire district was also included. The city approved a special event permit for Bassnectar. This is consistent with previous events held at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park like Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Luke Bryan, etc.”
Elko made it clear that the concert did not exceed the thresholds set.
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“For this specific permit, the city used established best practices to clarify our noise ordinance (which focuses on nuisance) to set levels for the concert, with penalties for exceedences,” Elko said. “At the property line (56th/Valencia), noise limits of 85 Dba and 105 Dbc were established. The Dba levels are the high and mid level sounds, and the Dbc levels are the low-end or bass sounds. For a point of reference, the ambient (or average) noise on 56th Avenue is between 74 and 84 Dba.”
For his part, Bassnectar was unusually quiet on Twitter on Tuesday morning.