Unite Mekka Festival 2001

The Unite Mekka Festival 2001 organised by the United State of Consciousness was my first major event musical event since I moved to Seattle a few months ago. The all-ages show was held at the Stadium Exhibition Center and featured a host of electronic artists. It was an interesting experience in the way our live music experience has been shaped by electronica.

Electronica epitomises the future of music, as I've written about earlier. It punctuates the importance of live music, as the degree of creativity required to perform live is boosted to new levels. It also, in terms of labour, moves the concept of music from a proprietarian model to a service model. Music becomes more like language, where it doesn't belong to any one person in particular. (I reject all notions of spirituality however, so while the term "United State of Consciousness" is interesting, I don't find it particularly relevant.)

Electronica also changes music from being a passive experience to a more active one. By doing so, it allows a music-loving audience to be far more expressive in their enthusiasm for the music. No longer does an audience have to be limited to listening to one or two acts in a given night. Instead, they have their choice of mixing and matching between a diverse host of acts as they dance the night away. Given that the music is a collage of sorts, the dancing of the audience was a delight to watch (compared to any other ordinary nightclub I've been to where I find people dancing generally clumsy and forced). In addition, there were breakdancers in a designated area who were really impressive.

The music was excellent, and I particularly liked Area 2 which focused on trance. The jungle and drum 'n' bass sections had their high lights, but weren't consistently good I thought. The artists featured included: Armand Van Helden, Deep Dish, Josh Wink, Simply Jeff, Scotty Henry, Donald Glaude, Taj, Dig-Dug, Dave Ralph, Sandra Collins, Jerry Bonham, DJ Federal, Micro, John Debo, Dave Trance, James Christina, Dom + Roland, DJ Craze, Tech Itch, Shimon, MC Jakes, Eva, Wlye, Demo, Zacharia, Delirium, Naha, Feisty, Jay the Mover, Dj Flave, Kippy, Roman, Adonis, and Emily Song.

Since it was an all-ages event, there was no alcohol allowed and this made for a more pleasant show. Besides the music, there were also a bunch of physical activities one could partake in, including climbing and sliding down various air-filled plastic mazes, riding a mechanical bull, and simulated surfing. There was also a BMX-style showcase for people interested in doing outrageous stunts with their bikes. Again, this illustrates how the interactive nature of "watching" a live performance has evolved.

The Stadium Exhibition Center venue lent itself to hosting such an event. Given its large size, it was easily separated into several dance floors. The main complaint I have is with the way the security acted. While my partner and I were actually treated extremely well, that seemed more like an aberration since a lot of the young people were searched in a rude manner, and sometimes threatened to be expelled when they complained about the rudeness. There was also an inequality in the way the searches were conducted (based on my limited personal observation). To top it all, they took away our tickets and wouldn't return them, not even a stub.

Music ramblings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org || August 25, 2001