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For the third installment of Expansion, Hummingbird Nest Ranch was equipped with two stages, gourmet munchies, a full bar, and of course plenty of candy for the eyes and ears. Until nearly 4am, visual artists Mimi Yoon, John Park, Evan Mendelson and Curtis Scoville worked on their respective pieces, ranging from Expansion’s emblematic octopus robot to funky, quasi-uterine, and Adriana Lima-inspired portraiture. DJs Wally Callerio, Lenny V, LDFD, Josh One, and Kid Chameleon all contributed to a laid-back but dance-friendly vibe as they dropped eclectic electro tracks at the entry stage. Most of the excitement, however, occurred in the main lounge.
Low Limit of Laser Sword hit the main stage first with an hour of bouncy hip-hop laden electronic beats. While he displayed total absorption in manipulating his tracks with chops and Dilla infusions, the crowd was only beginning to fill the dance floor and he was appreciated most by a very selective ear.
With the crowd growing in size and energy, Free the Robots mastermind Chris Alfaro followed to issue some industrial meets Nintendo experiments. Fortunately, he demonstrated the signature genre-crossing FTR style with samples ranging from reggae to N.W.A.’s “Dopeman.” With the exception of a remix of audience-favorite “Jazzhole,” his live performance wasn’t quite as jazz-tinged as his records. Rather, Alfaro’s strain of electro was singularly progressive in its textures: heavily-distorted tones and micro-rhythms mimicked devastating axe-blows and helicopter blades.
Last was producer Stephan Jacobs, who entered radiating a visible energy of confidence and determination but served the crowd no more than a standard dose of uninspiring uptempo dubstep. The lanky Jacobs did more dancing than music-making, only twisting knobs and tapping his mostly-for-display touchscreen synth occasionally. His partner, a Chris Angel look-alike on drums, added little more than accents with cymbal crashes as he was drowned out by computer-generated wobbles. A female guest vocalist joined Jacobs onstage to perform a new song, repeating the alluring lyric “you are the one.” Despite a loss of momentum near the end of the set caused by a speaker failure, Jacobs recovered and managed to keep his audience consistently stimulated. The highlight was not the aural but the visual—a performance by the resident troupe of clumsy torch-juggling raver-clowns.
As Expansion Volume III came to a close, laser lights and Apple emblems still shone through artificial fog at the lavish Hummingbird Nest Ranch estate. Though the music was all a little too analagous and the atmosphere surprisingly tame, fans of hip-hop-inspired electronic music and hipsterish SoCal socialites alike enjoyed themselves as they were surrounded by spectacle in the lap of luxury.