G Jones Plays to a Sold Out Terminal West
Over the last two years, G Jones has gone from the weird, glitchy kid that Minnesota kept under his wing on a couple tours, to the leader of a new style of bass music. He’s now leading a pack of (mostly) west-coast producers chasing down the most oddball combinations of deep underwater bass, breakbeat structure, and a combination of layered sounds somewhat reminiscent of a 56k modem on fire.
It’s a full redefinition of what music can be, as any semblance of a tune can be hard to find in some of his work. One can’t even reliably pick out a steady beat at all time, but what you hear is far from chaotic noise. This isn’t thrash electronica, but something much more interesting. The loose swinging beats are new and familiar at once and even as the gnarled soundwaves churn and halt erratically, there is something deeply comforting in the humming bass that backs his music. This is music that comes from somewhere, deep in the mind of Greg Jones and whatever ideas he brings with him from his early life in Santa Cruz.
His collaborations with Minnesota, Bassnectar, The Widdler, and Bleep Bloop have added fuel to his career, but despite his rising fame in the underground bass scene, I heard a lot of people were surprised to find his show at Terminal West sold out several days in advance. People were begging all over Facebook for last minute tickets, and I even saw someone manage to get in by buying someone’s spare ticket in the parking lot.
The show itself was refreshingly simple. No video wall, no crazy gimmicks, no hype man; just a table with gear on it and traditional spot and strobe lighting. Yheti and Bleep Bloop played bass-heavy, but unsurprising opening sets, each in their own signature style, before making room for G Jones. Fans were excited and raucous, but even at the very front of the crowd there was plenty of room to move around, nobody pushing or shoving for a spot on the rail. I don’t know if that says more about the hippies who listen to that kind of music or the type of crowd that is attracted to Terminal West, but it added massively to the overall enjoyment of the show. I have a sneaking suspicion that Terminal West intentionally undersells shows in order to create a better atmosphere than some of the other cramped venues in town. It might also be true that people who listen to psy bass are generally more respectful audience members. Whatever formula T-West and Aisle 5 are using, it’s working. Those are consistently the venues with the most respectful and roomy crowds.
G Jones’ music can be called trap, bass, psy, and a few other monikers, but it really defies description by any genre. I saw jaws drop over and over during his set as he would wind up beats into a frenzy and then hammer down rumbling bass on the crowd. Hair flew, hips wiggled, and screams of excitement went up from the crowd over and over as that same familiar bass kept coming back with unrelenting frequency. I lost my grip on where tracks began and ended as he wove in and out of full projects, samples, and effects with ease and dexterity. The whole show was basically an advertisement for the flexibility and power of Ableton Live, and with all the trappings of a modern EDM show stripped away. It was truly all about the music.
One of my favorite things about seeing artists like G Jones and Bleep Bloop are that they are constantly producing. They don’t do it as an addendum to their careers as DJs, they are really passionate about making music and are constantly crafting at home and on the road. We were treated throughout the night to some sneak peeks at unreleased music including a G Jones collab with Sayer, as well as a live remix of “My Ting”, but the coup de gras was the final song of the night, an absolute monster constructed with Eprom. I don’t know how to describe it other than trap trance. It was a high, hissing drumline that felt around 140 bpm or higher and without warning it slammed into a wall of bass. No airgap, no warning of an impending drop, no hook; just a flat wall of bass in the face. Definitely keep your ears open for that one to drop soon. I’ve never heard anything like it in my life.
G Jones and his crew of wobbly maniacs will definitely be back soon, and I urge you to buy tickets well in advance next time. He’s proven that he can tour with big names, can release consistent and impressive productions throughout the year, and can headline one of Atlanta’s best venues without being anywhere near the radar of “fame”. The music industry needs more artists like this who can gain and nurture a core following with consistent and inventive music, while still developing a career. These are the new bassheads. They work in a weird realm of sound that barely feels like music sometimes, but I can’t stop listening to it.
Photos By Teddy Williams for Bullet Music