Deep in the hills of Washington, on the edge of a cliff overlooking a beautiful, vast canyon is one of the most captivating events ever created—Bass Canyon Music Festival at The Gorge Amphitheater. It’s a music festival, an expedition, a community, a camping trip and the party of a lifetime. It's a bass music festival that is not for the weak. It’s a place where you can get in touch with your most intimate self and in the same moment remember why skulls and fire are so cool. It’s three days, three nights and a pre-party of neck-breaking, booty shaking, tear-jerking bass music.
Bass Canyon really feels complete. You can visit to the Pivot for things like food trucks, clothing vendors, LED accessories, lingerie and festival merch or you can drop by the activity tent for scheduled yoga classes, sound baths and guided meditations to help you meet and align with your highest self.
Then, when the gates open, you can head down to the amphitheater and rage to some of the biggest and best DJs in the world. Bass Canyon was created by Excision in 2018 and the dubstep legend has done it again. This year’s vibes were unmatched. Excision used all of his industry experience to curate this festival and it unfolded perfectly. Here’s how it went at Bass Canyon 2021:
The festival is technically three days long—Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. But in order to really get the best experience you need to get there on Thursday to set up camp and go to the pre-party.
The first thing you need to know about camping is you have to get there early because there will be people lined up all throughout the night to get their camping spot. The first thing you need to know about the pre-party is you absolutely must go. If your group is still undecided when the time comes I strongly recommend urging them to make it because it is worth it. There’s nothing quite like the Bass Canyon pre-party probably in the world. It's six-hour b2b2b2b2b with some of the biggest names in the game right now.
This year’s pre-party included Yookie, Svdden Death, Champagne Drip, Kompany, Eptic, Sullivan King and more. The thing that makes the Bass Canyon pre-party so special is it doesn’t just feel like all those guys are just taking turns playing songs. The pre-party set was an incredibly exciting, cohesive mix of all types of sounds, personalities and genres. It has to be called a party because there’s no actual lineup.
From brutal, headbanging dubstep, to sad, emotional cry songs, to fun, bouncy deep-house, to some freaky minimal-trap, no matter where you are on the basshead spectrum you’re moving the entire time. All on the highest quality visuals and sound systems available. It’s just a big conglomerate of everything bass, performed by some of the most talented bass music artists out there. I walked back to camp that night asking myself “that was just the pre-party?” I was fired up and ready for whatever the festival had waiting for us on the first day.
Day one was no mercy. Not only did it have the heaviest sets of the whole festival, it was also the day you found out just how much hiking/walking would be involved over the weekend. Unlike other large-scale venues, The Gorge is not on flat land. There are hills everywhere—which means if you like hiking and being outside it's great. This is also the first year they decided to add an extra stage. Originally it was just the main stage overlooking the canyon and a local’s stage on the side.
This year they added another slightly smaller main stage called the “hilltop stage.” Which, you guessed it, is at the top of a hill. Made for artists that aren’t quite superstars yet and might still be too underground for the big stage. Here we saw names like Luzcid, Bawldy, DMVU, Au5 and Inzo.The added dance floor is a great addition because Excision gets to invite many more DJs, but it also means because of set times and the commute between stages you may have to miss one of your favorite artists to catch another one.
Day one holds a lot of chaos as rave-crews are still learning the layout of the festival and how they want to carry out their plans for the rest of the festival. I recommend trying the yoga on the first day to get you nice and loose for the weekend. I tried it, it was my first time ever and it was amazing. Getting rid of all that stiffness and tension from work and our daily lives before going out and raging all night really made it easier for the rest of the weekend. Even only doing it for one day really made a difference.
The food is delicious, my favorite is the pulled pork mac and cheese with a barbecue sauce that's just heavenly. The musical highlights of the day included sets from Yookie to start things off, Champagne Drip next, Calcium b2b Kompany, and a bone-snapping set from Phaseone during the day. Then, when the sun went down we got into a b2b with Sullivan King and Kai Wachi, Svdden Death after that, Liquid Stranger and finally Excision followed up last for probably one of the best order of set slots I could’ve asked for. Each one brought more energy than the last, and each one was better than the last time I saw them. It was amazing. I knew as soon as Excision’s set ended that I would be sore for day two.
The second day was vibe city. Everyone now knew what to expect. Everyone had their gameplans and meet-spots. It was time to party. It rained for about an hour that day and no one missed a beat. Day raving started with Eliminate, then Dirt Monkey, ATLiens and Space Laces. The vibes were high. Love was abundant. The booties were shaking. The sun came back out. It was Phenomenal. Everyone was smiling, laughing, dancing, hootin’, hollering and just letting their joy fill the entire Gorge. Take me back.
When nightfall arrived it got even better. First, the vibes stayed high for an amazing Dion Timmer b2b Wooli set. Then they went crazy for Twelfth Planet b2b Riot Ten. My group and I then caught Bawldy at the hilltop stage and were not disappointed. BTSM got us all the way down with our bad selves, and to finish off the night there was a blistering hot set laid down by Ganja White Knight. It was my first time hearing them perform and I could not have asked for a better introduction. If you haven’t seen them live yet you’re sorely missing out. After the day ends, they kicked us out of the amphitheater and the party continues. A silent disco was going down at the activity tent, food trucks were still open, and camp-site renegades were everywhere. Day two really hit the spot.
Day three the party just kept going. Decadon, Level Up and Ray Volpe started things off to keep the energy high. The sun is beaming and the music is fire. It looked like it was shaping up to be another beautiful rave day, but half way through Boogie T’s set they shut everything down due to high winds. First they just shut down the main stage but eventually stopped the music altogether. The festival organizers finally announced they would allow re-entry if they wanted to wait at their camp and all was calm while we waited to rage again. This lasted for about two and a half hours. Then, as soon as Boogie T came back on it was like nothing ever happened. The last night went on and the DJs crushed it again. This time we had LSDream, Subtronics, Slander and a gorgeous Excision b2b Illenium set to finish it all up.
It was the perfect finish to the festival—a night full of fast-paced excitement and slow moments of tender intimacy. They hit every note and it was a bitter-sweet ending to an unforgettable experience.
And then came Monday and it was time to pack it up and go home. I was left with a feeling like I never wanted it to end but also couldn't think of what else to add. It’s finished, it’s over, it’s done, but it feels complete. The good vibes never left. Some people left early in the morning, some people stayed into the afternoon. It’s a time for reflection. The air was filled with gratitude and residual excitement lingered in the campground. Memories are still fresh and muscles are still sore. I departed from The Gorge feeling fulfilled, happy and feeling like you’re finally able to fully breathe again. Bass Canyon Music Festival is a place made for spiritual growth—a festival for down-to-earth people that focuses on health, balance, fun and acceptance. I hope you’ll be there when the time comes again. I know I will.