Recap: Basslights with Bassnectar, Pretty Lights and friends in Hampton, Va.

The Hampton Coliseum is no stranger when it comes to holding large music events.

Hailed by many as a visual architectural masterpiece, it has hosted the likes of such greats as Elvis and Phish and is responsible for hosting what many people refer to as the greatest show ever played by the Grateful Dead.

December 28 and December 29 was a new first for the venue.

10,000 people each night descended upon it wearing their brightest, loudest, most unique outfits they could put together as it hosted its first ever EDM event.

This one-off two-night event was titled Basslights and was co-headlined by Bassnectar and Pretty Lights. Both artists performed sets each night – with Bassnectar headlining Friday and Pretty Lights headlining Saturday. Friday featured supporting sets by GRiZ and Big Gigantic while Saturday featured supporting sets by A-Trak and Gramatik.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t originally have hesitations about attending this show.

Being from Chicago, I’m spoiled with an abundance of great music acts regularly – from small clubs shows to full blown arena shows. Should I make the trek to Virginia was the question I kept asking myself? Three things ended up helping me make up my mind and ultimately deciding to go.

Tickets were surprisingly affordable at $80 for both nights (Bassnectar or Pretty Lights alone in Chicago for one night can cost that). The lineup was incredible (I had seen Bassnectar at Lollapalooza this summer and was itching to see Pretty Lights again after missing his fall tour). Also, being the music fan I am, I pride myself on attending a wide variety of music events and thought what better more obscure place to do it than a beach town in the off season.

I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

Surprisingly, the people are what made this event. The energy of the 10,000 people each night made this the best possible way to close out 2012 and one of my standout music events of the year.

For many I spoke to, this was their first EDM event and the energy in the air was indeed contagious. Many locals were both astonished and appreciated the fact that such big acts would play in this rather small market in one of the busiest party weekends of the year.

The vibe was not pretentious, something I couldn’t help but feel at Lollapalooza or Spring Awakening Music Festival. The venue staff was even great, not closing off the floor when it got crowed and leaving the balcony open (which was filled as well) for people that wanted a bit more space.

Bassnectar and Pretty Lights both performed flawless sets each night. Had it been up to me though, I would have liked to see more interaction between the two. Maybe I was just looking into the Basslights name too much but why not do something special for a one off event?

I’d also have liked to pay a bit more for my ticket and see a larger stage production. These are only minor complaints and are to be expected with a first time event.

With the success of this event, I think it’s safe to say Virginia will be seeing more EDM shows in 2013.

All photos courtesy Krystle Blackburn/Pretty Lights Music.


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