I've only made it up to LET from San Diego once, on a night that Daedelus was playing... but it blew my fucking mind! I can hardly wait to make my next visit!
By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Gaslamp Killer: When it started, I was living in Marina del Rey. Don't ask me why. And on the first night [of LET], I got a speeding ticket and said, "This place is fucking cursed. I can't drive this far every Wednesday. How am I going to drink?" And I wasn't getting along with edIT and Nocando, either. But it only took a month to realize that we were doing something special. Having a weekly brought people together. But it wasn't much of a party at first, just a bunch of dudes hanging out and bobbing our heads together.
Nocando: It was initially a music free-for-all. Our first bookings were rappers and bands we knew. The crowds were small throughout the first year. It was on a Wednesday and nothing much ever really stuck on Wednesdays, other than Dub Club. edIT was regularly blowing my mind, going crazy on his controllers and playing early dubstep. We also brought in sound from Pure Filth, so even though the shows weren't packed, we had an over-the-top drown-you-out system.
D-Styles: I was struck by how free things were. It wasn't confined to one type of music, it was 18-plus, and you could smoke. People were hungry for all types of music, and everyone was mixing jungle, dubstep and psych rock into futuristic hip-hop.
Nosaj Thing: I found out about Low End through D-Styles' message board. I'd been playing the Smell and the Il Coral but felt like my sound didn't really fit. Low End was exactly what I'd been looking for. At the time, it was, at most, 20 to 50 heads — like a little boys' club. But every new track and artist that I heard brought new styles and sounds to the table.
Flying Lotus: You could definitely sense some kind of magic. Low End was drawing people from all races and parts of L.A. But it wasn't until the first Beat Invitational that we really sensed how powerful it could be.
Daedelus: The Beat Invitationals were basically local producers playing beats — the most boring thing possible. But people put on real performances, and the kids got really, really excited about it. People could get loose, the sound system was good, and the space was raw. It had the feeling of a movement.
I'm not sure who did it first, but someone figured out how to connect Madlib and J Dilla and the more authentic hip-hop production style to a more grounded experimental form of IDM [Intelligent Dance Music], in a way that both made sense and got a wider swath of people to move.
Low End couldn't exist if it was a message board or a podcast. Regionalism exists because of the spaces themselves. When you blow that up, with the Internet's power to yell, that's where you see the international reflection.
Daddy Kev: Before there was a real L.A. sound, the residents played tons of Dabrye and Dilla. But within a year we got the demos from Nosaj. Lotus was making a beat a day, Ras G was killing it, and the aesthetic cohered.
Nobody: Things really evolved once we all switched to Serrato and started sharing songs. Plus, suddenly, there was less need to play old records when local kids started feeding us all these beats.
Mary Anne Hobbs: I'll never forget my first visit as long as I live. The place was absolutely mobbed and screaming and wild. The residents played music that I never thought I'd come across in my entire life — totally alien and incredible. Producers showed up and brought music to me. I collected more phenomenal new music in a few hours than I had in a whole year.
Gaslamp Killer: It's been my testing ground, my laboratory, where I try new shit out. That's where I got the courage to play this weird music. It's been so nurturing. The kids are so ride-or-die and devoted to the idea of community.
Nocando: The producers there are building on 20 years of production styles and putting them into one. You can get a guy like Samiyam, who makes stuff closer to an Alchemist, next to Jonwayne, who has a Southern slow vibe to his beats.
Flying Lotus: In some way, I try to be connected to the cities that I visit. So when I'm in London to play, I'm always sure to do the underground show, too — something that's at the core of the community. That's where I feel like I'm from.
It's the same thing when I hear artists like James Blake saying that they're disappointed in the venues they're playing. I tell them about Low End, and if they're up for it, then they should check it out. With [Thom Yorke] it was the same thing. He'd been playing DJ nights in a hotel in Hollywood and was sick of it. I knew how much the Low End crowds would love it, and he was up for it.
That's what makes Low End special. The crowds are there for the love of the music and nothing else.
Daddy Kev: The day after Yorke played our club, people were looking at me like a unicorn. I can't tell you how many promoters asked for his booking info. I laughed. That's not something you can make happen based on will. The high-profile artists, like Yorke, Erykah Badu, James Blake, DJ Muggs or Photek, aren't enticed by money or exposure. They're looking for a more pure music experience.