Local electronic dance music fans should get ready for an over-the-top celebration when the Biggest Little City in the World hosts the world’s biggest paint party on Nov. 7.
Reno is just one stop on the Life in Color Tour, which has in recent months made a splash from Hong Kong to Honduras and from Abiza to Atlanta.
The annual show, which this year takes the theme “Big Bang -- The Creation of Color,” is a bacchanalian bath for the senses.
While live deejays spin tunes and circus-style acts perform, guests are splashed with neon-colored paint via cannons staged around the venue. Attendees are encouraged to purchase bottles of paint, too, and spray fellow revelers.
Over the years, celebrated DJs like Calvin Harris and Diplo have performed at Life in Color. The Reno roster is still being lined up, but EDM notables Borgore and LooKas are on the bill. Life in Color CEO Sebastian Solano also often takes to the turntables.
LooKas is an up-and comer in a subgrenre of dubstep called trap music, which originated in the early 2000s in the American South.
Trap is marked by dark and gritty lyrics and samples that are aggressive, whether they consist of low-end bass blasts or triple-time tantrums. LooKas has gained traction with several singles including “War,” “Genesis” and “Loko.”
Borgore is the more famous of the two DJs, having gained a mixture of international acclaim and infamy. The Israeli producer is the originator of gorestep, a dark-tinged amalgam of rap, metal and dubstep.
Here’s how it works. You start with dubstep, and then augment the typical bass drop with tight triplet drum patterns. In Borgore’s case, you add lyrics that are sexually explicit and which some -- citing songs such as “Dance Like a Hoe” -- insist are sexist.
In a 2012 Skiddle.com article, Borgore defined gorestep simply.“It’s just the toughest dubstep you can imagine -- it’s about pushing boundaries,” he said.
All in all, it makes for a rowdy sound that is not your older brother’s dubstep.
Many have welcomed Borgore’s sound as innovative and inspired, including famous collaborators like Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and M.I.A. Others have accused him of perverting their preferred genre.
Borgore has embraced the backlash, recording a two-part EP in 2010 called “Borgore Ruined Dubstep” and often wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the same epithet.
And many one-time haters have come around as mainstream Dubstep has grown edgier. It’s a natural evolution, given that EDM is a musical arena based on sensation.
“Dubstep doesn’t exist anymore,” Borger boldly told the Boulder Weekly in a 2012 interview. “The only people that are staying with their heads above the water are people who don’t think it’s only dubstep at this point. ... Right now, as far as the EDM scene, if you want to be a sick DJ, you need to be versatile.”
When it comes to musical chops, versatile is an understatement.
Borgore, who was born Asaf Borger in Tel Aviv, Israel, cites influences ranging from Bach to Coltrane to Aphex Twin. He began playing piano at three and was considered a saxophone prodigy. He was trained in jazz at the prestigious Thelma Yellin music academy, where he learned to compose for big band ensembles.
He next shifted to something a little more intense, undertaking a brief stint as a drummer for the Israeli deathcore band Shabira. After being exposed to dubstep Borgore, now 28, became an electronic dance music convert. He founded a record label call Buygore, releasing singles like “Ratchet” and remixes ranging from Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” to AwolNation’s “Sail.”
Borgore has also released two albums, a compilation record titled “Misadventures in Dubstep” and his studio debut, #NewGoreOrder. A 2014 All Music review called the latter record “what it sounds like inside a club kid Caligula’s mind.”
A colorful history
Along with coaxing out adventurous newcomers, Life in Color also draws die-hard fans. Some people have been attending the event since it first began.
It started in 2006 when Solano and friends began staging house parties on Florida college campuses, then called “Dayglow” raves. As they grew in popularity, Solano started making them more elaborate and booking larger DJs and bands.
The paint began to flow and the Dayglow show started touring in 2009. It was renamed “Life in Color in 2012 when it was acquired by Robert Sillerman’s SFX Entertainment.
Should you decide to brave the Reno show, it promises to be an unforgettable experience.
Guests are encouraged to wear white, the better to serve as human canvases. While the paint is messy, it’s water-based and non-toxic.
You may want to heed a word of caution posted on a Life in Color forum on the Ticketmaster website. While an anonymous reviewer said they loved the show, they suffered an electronic casualty.
“I would recommend putting your phone in a plastic baggy to protect it from any damage. I put mine in a small string backpack, yet it still managed to get wet,” the attendee wrote. “When I visited Apple the next day, they called me ‘another victim of Life In Color.’
Most who attend “Life in Color,” however, consider themselves victorious.
A June 2015 review in the Abiza Spotlight review calls the most recent iteration of Life in Color “a spectacle on a grand scale.” It went on to describe some of the sights and sounds.
“LED screens with larger-than-life layered lickings of neon graphics, gorgeous neon-emblazoned dancers, blown-up sumo suit wearing Bez-esque dancers, LED light stilted dancers, aerial acrobats and some sort of gigantic dragon/dinosaur-esque propelled beings. ... All of this with periodic releases of smoke machines, confetti, gigantic balloons and of course, the epic paint guns.”
If you’re the mild-mannered sort, Life in Color may not be your cup of tea.
While the overwhelming ethos of the EDM community is defined by the acronym PLUR, standing for peace, love, unity and respect, the crowd is young and eager to get as close to the action as possible. And the music is designed to galvanize the crowd.
If you like the party hopping, the music electronic and the colors rainbow-bright, however, Life in Color will suit you just fine.