Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
September 19, 2021

What going to a Subtronics Concert taught me about friendship

By SABRINA ABRAMS | October 17, 2019

b4-subtronics

COURTESY OF SABRINA ABRAMS

Subtronics performed some of his hit songs at Baltimore Soundstage ‘s intimate venue.

About 20 minutes into Subtronics’ set at Baltimore Soundstage this Saturday, I had a stomach-dropping realization. 

I was covering this concert for The News-Letter and I had absolutely nothing to say about it. 

Slight bit of context: Subtronics is a riddim/dubstep producer who is probably best known for his song “Griztronics,” which was made in collaboration with fellow producer GriZ, as well as similar high-energy hits such as “Hit ‘Em” (a collaboration with Boogie T) and “Headband” (with Ganja White Night). 

I will emphasize that attending this concert was one of the most enjoyable nights I have had out in a while. This is purely based on my own taste in music. 

I like Subtronics because his music is intense and high-energy, and when one is absorbed in a concert venue (particularly one as intimate as Soundstage), the performance becomes a thoroughly immersive experience, as any half-decent concert should. 

I was further captivated by the lasers, the green-screen graphics and the value-add of Subtronics onstage, just vibing out to his music. 

While it’s pretty typical for producers to play new remixes of both their music and that of other artists during concerts, Subtronics may have exclusively played variations and riffs on his own work. At the very least, that was my perception. The exceedingly popular “Griztronics” had a special drop for this concert.

I digress. It was kind of a wake-up call to spend 90 seconds staring at lasers and realize there’s not a realistic way to transcribe that encounter, and I found myself getting irritated. 

The fact that I felt I had nothing to write about was detracting from the experience of the concert. 

My friend, Abby, saw me mildly withdraw as I opened up the Notes application on my phone to jot down a few ideas about how to center this article and she immediately grabbed my hands and encouraged me to continue dancing with her. 

EDM — particularly riddim and dubstep, as well as the “headbanging” that accompanies that type of music — has been a formative part of my friendship with my best friend, Abby. 

But until this summer, our concert attendance had always been contextualized in going with a large group and gauging whether a particular event was worth it based on cost and how many people were going. 

We started texting about the Moonrise Festival lineup in the spring. “Moonrise” is a primarily EDM-based festival at Pimlico Race Course, which occurs every year in August. 

We decided to go ahead and buy tickets without seeing if anyone else we wanted to go with was interested. We assumed other people would come, given the fact that it’s in Baltimore and that it was over the summer. 

This summer was also the longest stretch of time that Abby and I had spent in different cities since we became friends midway through freshman year. 

We texted frequently, and even more often did we send each other information about Moonrise. We visited each other — she came to New York City twice and I went up to Boston. We planned an extensive itinerary once the stage-oriented lineup was released. 

As time went on our texts went from “wait, who would be down to come with us” to saying things like “I’m so, so excited we’re doing this with just the two of us.”

It would be our very own special event. 

Moonrise was a groundbreakingly awesome experience and when we saw that Subtronics, who we’d watched on the basis of being Boogie T fans and wound up loving, was coming to Baltimore in October, we bought tickets for his Soundstage concert. It was a special date for us and something to look forward to as midterm season kicked in. 

A Subtronics concert meant getting pushed around on the peripheries of a mosh pit, feeling disgusting from the mass of bodies in the venue and dancing so hard that I had cramps in places I didn’t know existed the next day. 

But it also meant my best friend holding me when we edged too close to the mosh pit and making sure I was having as much fun as possible. It meant us screaming with joy together when the last opening act ended and Subtronics came onstage. It meant sitting in shock in the Uber back to campus, just shouting at each other how much we loved the performance, and then coming back on campus, immediately continuing to listen and dance to Subtronics’ music. 

I think it’s easy to get caught up in the overall social experience of concerts. Historically, I have purchased tickets based on how many people I know are going, definitely with preference towards larger groups. But hardcore EDM is such an immersive, intimate event that I would prefer to just go with my best friend without the need for a large group. 

It just goes to present a general commentary on our friendship — we can do it on our own. 

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