By Will Roper
Photos by James Dean

March 5, 2018

Mr. Carmack performs at The Bourbon Theatre in Lincoln, Neb., on Feb. 28, 2018. Photo by James Dean/KZUM.

The Bourbon Theatre became an EDM light show for nearly four hours Wednesday as two solo artists took the stage and put on an incredible, bass-heavy performance.

West Coast electronic artist Tsuruda and Hawaiian-native Mr. Carmack were featured for a night of hard-hitting bass wobble and soaring keyboard melodies.

Thomas Tsuruda, who goes by his last name on stage, opened the night to a small but quickly growing crowd. Known for his energizing DJ skills in his hometown of Los Angeles, Tsuruda has quickly grown into a nationally recognized producer. His genre, much of it rooted in trap-bass, is ever-evolving – and it showed with his Bourbon performance.

Over his hour long set, Tsuruda had the initially shy crowd jumping on their feet and pushing toward the front of the red-lit stage. The main stage of the Bourbon seems like the perfect acoustic space for the type of loud, wobbling bass and short melodic hits that Tsuruda pumped out over the large room. Even though he was surrounded by Mr. Carmack’s gear scattered across the stage, Tsuruda definitely had his own unique stage presence as he bobbed and danced to his beats over a MacBook and some small gear.

Tsuruda performs at The Bourbon Theatre in Lincoln, Neb., on Feb. 28, 2018. Photo by James Dean/KZUM.

Tsuruda verbally engaged the crowd every now and then, and at one point mentioned he was playing mostly new, original music. Overall, his opening set was probably surprising to a lot of people as they shuffled in to hear Mr. Carmack, and it set the tone for an audience that was dying to dance to more bass.

Mr. Carmack took the stage with a guitarist shortly after Tsuruda, and the ambience and performance style were immediately different. Surrounded by a dozen lights, a couple pianos and a MacBook, Mr. Carmack introduced his show with a synchronized light show and an electronic ballad of dream-like soundscapes and melodic piano.

The now-packed crowd, entranced by the softness of the opener, erupted as Mr. Carmack ended his introduction and dove straight into a flashing lights spectacle of arrhythmia-inducing bass, high-rising piano and the occasional verse of vocals.

Getting his name and reputation from opening for major headlining EDM artists, Aaron Carmack has branched out into his own and is currently on North American tour with stops all across the western United States. In the last two years, he has toured five different continents

Mr. Carmack performs at The Bourbon Theatre in Lincoln, Neb., on Feb. 28, 2018. Photo by James Dean/KZUM.

Mr. Carmack’s music, and his Bourbon set, focused on a more jazzy, softer side to the EDM genre than the trap-influenced beats of Tsuruda. His music can be described as a mix between dance music and hip hop, but the occasional appearance of a trumpet in Mr. Carmack’s set provided yet another touch of jazz to his wide range of music.

But of course, the bass was there. During his performance, Mr. Carmack combined all of these genres – dance, hip hop, jazz – into his own unique take on bass-driven EDM dance music. His performance was far from sitting at a laptop, as he made use of a rack of electronic pianos, a trumpet and a microphone for his vocals. Everyone, however, was standing on their toes whenever the bass drop was incoming, and they left the Bourbon around midnight not disappointed.

Overall, Tsuruda and Mr. Carmack proved to be a great tandem of differing EDM styles. Tsuruda focused more on trap beats and quick electronic hits, while Mr. Carmack mixed his styles with genres from all across the board. It was a great show, and the Bourbon was a perfect space for both of these artists’ sounds.

[slickr-flickr tag="carmack2018" captions="on"] View photos on KZUM's Flickr.

Will Roper is an editorial intern with KZUM. James Dean is a KZUM photography contributor.