On February 7th, the Gem & Jam festival started in Tucson, AZ, with a lineup consisting of some of the most influential up-and-comers in the industry today. Just to name a few, these included: Thirftworks, Kaminanda, Random Rab, Project Aspect, and Herobust. In addition to the music, this Gem & Jam included some of the best vending I’ve seen at a festival to date. They had goods ranging from some fine jewelry to clothing to gems (of course).
Starting on February 7th with Cloud-D, Kaminanda, the Polish Ambassador, Nit Grit, and Project Aspect, it turned out to be a pretty good first night. The night began early with Cloud-D, who led you into a set heavy on that space bass, glitch-hop, and, like always, a little bit of filth to go with it.
Next up on the list for me was Kaminanda. After just releasing an EP within the last couple of weeks, it brought a whole new element to Kaminanda’s set. With such a large amount of new material to choose from now, it allowed him to change up from the norm and bust out some brand new shit that I ensure you everybody was feeling. And, to wrap it all up, Kaminanda closed with a crowd favorite: his remix of “Shakedown Street.”
Polish Ambassador was up next and came to the stage in his classic jumpsuit. He did a nice job to come out with a super glitch-hop set, mixing up hip-hop vocals in harmony with his sporadic beats.
Closing out the night on the main stage was Nit Grit, while Project Aspect closed out the indoor stage. However, the first night happened to be running late. This led to dilemma with the local law enforcement, who had been receiving tons of noise complaints from neighboring Tucson residents. But, this didn’t stop the festival from closing out the first night. Nit Grit playing a dope set that the crowd was getting down despite the surround cops and the police helicopter cruising through the air.
Meanwhile, on the indoor stage, Project Aspect was doing a great job of tearing it up with a mix of heavy space bass, dubstep, and glitch hop. This young producer has been on the rise lately, impressing me with his live sets more and more with every show I see. Bringing a huge amount of intensity and enthusiasm to the stage while mixing, I would definitely recommend checking out this producer when he comes to a city near you!
Day two brought along another great list of artists including Octopus Nebula, Russ Liquid, Herobust, Michael Minert, and Signal Path. Starting off early in the evening was Octopus Nebula, a jamtronica band, who provided the night with a mellow start. Having a very similar sound to Sound Tribe Sector 9, Octopus Nebula was bringing the jam scene to the Gem & Jam festival, providing a more relaxing set for the crowd.
Next up on the main stage was Russ Liquid, who has always been a fun set for myself to see. He, like usual, got a little funky with it, using his trumpet to really bring a component to his music that he can completely call his own. His set had the entire crowd moving, especially when he brought in the more natural groove with the sound of the trumpet.
While Russ Liquid was playing outside, heRobust was throwing down on the indoor stage. Seeing heRobut for the first time this weekend was quite a nice experience, and a pleasant one at that. After watching him release material throughout this last year, I was quite stoked to see him play. Bringing a truly unique sound to his music, it was nice to have a change in whomps to straight crunchy ass bass.
After Herobust, it was Signal Path’s time to take the stage. Signal Path being a crowd favorite for this particular crowd, allowed everyone to get a little bit of familiar sounds coming into their ears. This let Signal Path create a nice ambiance in the room in which they played.
To round up night two was Michal Menert, adding some nice downtempo hip-hop beats to sooth the crowd from a long night of space bass, trap, and jamtronica. He also threw in some his original freestyles over his music. Overall, Minert closed the night up well to await the Day three.
Day three would see some of the most influential producers this lineup had to offer: Thirftworks, kLL sMTH, Vibesquad, Random Rab and Ill Mannered. I can’t deny the fact that I was probably most excited for day three. To start off the night, we had kLL sMTH, a young up-and-coming DJ on the scene. Throwing down his original tracks, that had everything from space bass, glitch hop, and even a nice little taste of funky bass.
Next up, or what was thought to be next up, on main stage was Thriftworks. However, the event seemed to have some scheduling problems, so what was suppose to be at 8:50 was now set almost an hour and half later and no longer on main stage. Not to fret, this allowed Thriftworks to have a much more personal and intimate experience with the crowd. Coming out with a mix of new and old material, Thriftworks displayed his inept ability he has to produce some of the freshest beats being made in the industry right now. Lets just say that this might have been my favorite set of the festival. And for you Thriftworks fans, I’d stay on the lookout for his new Ep coming out soon, which is sure to have some dope tracks on it. Sure enough, this young producer has a bright future ahead of him as he prepares to go on tour this Bassnectar this Spring.
Vibesquad was up next playing on main stage, bringing all the enthusiasm and just general love of the music. Always one of the happiest DJs I ever see, Vibesquad has a large variety of original tracks to pull from to play in his sets, allowing him to always change up some of his material for his sets. Dropping crowd favorites like “This Afternoon,” Vibesquad did a solid job at throwing down.
Closing out the indoor stage was Ill Mannered, who played all kinds of bass music. He wound down the crowd and got us all ready for Random Rab. Throwing down as per usual, the set was a fun one to say the least.
To close out the festival was the one and only Random Rab. Rab seemed like the perfect choice, as his downtempo beats are good for everyone to groove to. Adding his singing over his music, it produced an experience you can only really experience from Random Rab. He came in to put the perfect close on the festival.
Now, what I have thus failed to talk about in this post was the incredible vending this festival had to offer. They brought some of the dopest jewelry makers in the game: Jason Burruss, Sarahdigm Shifts, John Ebert, and Andrew Vadnais. Along with jewelry, their was some dope glass being offered by Eusheen Goines.