Jeff Abel has jumped into dubstep like a masked bandit, brandishing heavy-metal weapons and leaving chaos and broken speakers in his wake. While the genre is known for rumbling basslines and lots of head tossing among its fans, the DJ and producer known as Excision lets the listener tap into their inner bat-munching, heavy-metal chi. He performs Friday at San Jose Civic Auditorium alongside Paper Diamond, Minnesota, Vaski and Getter.
Abel grew up in Canada, which has an electronic music scene as abundant as the Yukon Territory tundra. It took him a while to find his niche. When he first heard hardcore breakbeat group Prodigy’s The Fat of the Land‚ as a youngster, he spent years searching for similar music with no success until 2005, when he discovered the Vex’d album Degenerate and dove into the dubstep scene. Since then, he has emerged as one of the most popular dubstep DJs with synapse-bursting, sold-out performances across the country. “[I’ve headlined shows] with 10,000 or 20,000 people at epic venues like Red Rocks in Colorado or the Gorge in Washington. Looking out onto the crowd and the awesome view and seeing so many people rocking out to such nasty music is a pretty righteous feeling,” he says.
Excision has just embarked upon his Execution tour, a production rivaling the complexity of some of the top names in EDM. The stage crew will have their hands full with lasers, C02 jets, low-lying fog machines and snow machines—yes, snow machines.
Fans attending the Feb. 8 show at the San Jose Civic Auditorium for Sunset would be wise to bring their ear plugs, as the DJ will be unleashing more than 100,000 watts of sound, against a stage backdrop of 420 square feet of true-3-D, video-mapped animations using Serato technology to stay perfectly in sync with 50 to 60 tracks in his set, with videos designed by a team of 50 animators from around the globe. That mastery of technology, as much as his unique heavy-metal dubstep sound, is one of the main draws to his shows. “I really believe that the way we are putting it together sets down a new path for electronic music performance,” he says.
But Excision has more tricks up his hoodie. “We will always be working hard to stay at least a few steps ahead of the rest of the industry,” Abel says. And San Jose, the hub of all things digital, will be one of the first cities to determine if Excision really is that kind of maverick. Paper Diamond, Minnesota, Vaski and Getter are also on the bill.