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You Know You DON’T Love It: How The Basshead Community Can Reverse Negative Stigmas Over Littering and Rail-Riding


The last time I saw Bassnectar at a festival was years ago. Years ago. Let’s take it back to 2013 at Camp Bisco‘s final stint in upstate New York immediately following Bassnectar’s ground-shaking (literally) set. After the smoke settles and everyone shuffles back to their tents, we’re left with a usual scene we all know too well: it’s destruction, it’s damage, it’s probably Day 3. “Where did it all come from?” you may ask, and “Who left this mess”? Well friends, I’ll tell you; It was probably us.

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To clarify, when I say “us,” I don’t mean specifically you and I. I mean us, we, festival goers, a community and social group that represents the fan base following Bassnectar. Whether you’re a rail rider, a bleacher creature, a hooper, or lost in the crowd trying to keep your senses intact (aka me), we’re all within the basshead community. We let a lot of littering happen. Well the year is 2016, and with festival season already underway, this is a perfect time to improve not only bassheads’ image, but the image of our festival community as a whole.

Bassnectar fans are now cleaning up after themselves and each other. Euphoria Festival just kicked off our festival season over in Texas and at the end of that glorious weekend, something amazing happened. After the dancing, the hugging and the music stopped and all that was left was the familiar scene from before, festival goers did something different. Adam Straughn (the mind behind ATS Photography) picked something up. Was it his belongings? No. Was it a mess he personally made? No again. This simple action caught on, as many group activities do, and started a post-Bassnectar set clean up. Nectar sets can bring out the nittiest, grittiest, sometimes downright dirtiest fans BUT if we can clean up after ourselves, we might be able to clean up our image. This tiny trend is beginning to spread like wildfire, and has fan groups organizing to stick around after Bassnectar shows to do a little cleaning up. The grounds were almost spotless after the Euphoria set and the next big fan clean up looks like its going to be Electric Forest. 
Attendees picking up waste after Bassnectar’s Euphoria Set

On Facebook, 750 people have already RSVP’d as “Going” for the “Electric Forest 2016: Cleanup after Bassnectar” event. But why should we wait until then? If you’re going to any festival or show before then, practice these habits. We’re not bad people and we all love the music. So how can you be a part of this change? Don’t misrepresent the community or culture of this music and lifestyle we are all so grateful for. Practice good fan etiquette and clean up after yourself! Take it one step further and clean up after others too! As Ghandi said, “be the change you want to see in the (bass) world.”

Unfortunately, aside from the well known litter problem (and “litter” is an understatement), a whole ‘nother issue surrounds the scene we’ve come to know and love. Call them what you will but you know the type; heady wraps, heady scarves, heads banging in the front – it’s Rail Fam. On the surface, those kids up at the front just seem like a bunch of go-hards that somehow muscled their way up to the front row. Always front and center for the notorious bass family photo, they represent the fan base of the almighty Nectar. How does one make it all the way up to the front? It ain’t easy. It’s a tough spot to maintain and die hard Nectar enthusiasts have cultivated an exclusive and not-so- shiny identity in their pursuit of the rail. There’s even a less than friendly nickname they’ve been given – rail rats.

Let’s take a further look at these so-called pests. A glance back into recent festivals and big-ticket shows will display over the top bassheads engaging in some cringe-worthy behavior where people try to push towards the rail. A Youtube video from Okeechobee shows a fan being kicked and cursed at by a guy who’s trying to maintain his already crowded spot. From there, you can fall into a click-bait hole of more videos and blog articles attesting to similar behavior. Have you guys seen the “You Wont Believe What This Fan Did At A Bassnectar Concert” one? Cringe, cringe, cringe. Scroll through the comments or ask a friend, everyone knows somebody who knows somebody who has a story of some douche-y behavior they’ve witnessed at a Bassnectar show. But have we looked at it from the other side? Good Looks reached out to a couple of rail-riding veterans to get another look at the issue and hopefully shed some perspective on the controversy.

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Our friends are Dakota and Kayla. You might’ve seen them before at one of the countless festivals they’ve been to, or in a Bassnectar family photo, or perhaps where they’re most at home – on the rail. They want you to know something. This pushing, shoving, cursing, and fighting that’s been taking place is not truly representative of what the Bassnectar community is about. Unfortunately, a few bad apples can ruin it for the whole.

What it comes down to is this – there are two types of fans at the core of this issue. Type One is a die-hard. Type One has been around. Type One’s favorite place in the world is on the rail. Type One has been waiting up front, securing their spot since 8am. Type Two is a go-hard. Type Two has most likely recently discovered Nectar and will stop at nothing to get up close for another close taste of that bass. Type Two will work their way up to the front, but it won’t be easy. The problem happens when Type Two eventually encounters Type One and boom – there’s your Youtube video. Our friends Dakota and Kayla describe it as such: “It’s like you’re at a restaurant and you’re waiting an hour to be seated and you see someone who’s been waiting for ten minutes get a table – you’re going to get upset,” and rightfully so. This dedication to the rail doesn’t come cheap either. At festivals, some rail fam will spend their whole day holding down a spot. Kayla says, “We don’t wanna spend an entire day at a festival on rail, missing sets that we’d really love to see at other stages.” Despite missing other performances, hardcore fans still camp on the rail because their spot during Nectar is priority.

“So doesn’t this make them seem a little bit entitled,” you say? Yes and no. When it comes to the rail, folks like Dakota and Kayla have undoubtedly earned it. But that doesn’t mean they’re over-territorial about it. True fans, like Dakota and Kayla, are deeply passionate about Bassnectar and the community. Kayla’s intentions are purely to spread and share the feeling that only comes from “literally getting that bass in your face.” The key to that success though is all in the approach. Kayla’s philosophy to getting a spot on rail is simple – “Just ask!” It’s when people get overly aggressive and sometimes physical that causes problems. While they have not nor ever would hit or push anyone out of the way for a spot on rail, they unfortunately have been on the receiving end of that behavior. Kayla and Dakota understand the appeal of the rail and rather than cause more negativity around it, they want to spread a peaceful message. “We love the music and want people to be close and we know other people would appreciate that spot as well… if I see someone lingering behind me who is really interested in the music I would have no problem switching with them because I’ve been there before.” We trust that there are more good-natured bass fam out there who are open to sharing the rail. And if you’re thinking about making the journey up front, do it the right way – just ask!

Practicing these etiquettes on the individual level, from leaving no trace to riding rail, at every Bassnectar event will showcase how selfless and inclusive the basshead community really is. Lorin recently addressed the drama within the community by writing a heartfelt message on bassnectar.net, “As Bassnectar fans, please echo the ethos of Bassnectar: be kind to others, act with respect & love as you give back to the world around you, treat others how you want to be treated, and don’t fall into a negative mindset. Life is so short: make the most of every precious moment.” Simply put, echo the ethos of Bassnectar.

About Michele Molier

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