Multihyphenate David Westbom (DJ, producer, talent booker, event organizer) of Synaptik Events was sailing smoothly as he coordinated his first show of 2017 in February at Union Nightclub. Underground Bay Area bass producer Andrei “Andreilien” Olenev was set to headline along with fellow bass-head Ambrus “AMB” Deak, who was eager to play his first Los Angeles show since freshly immigrating from Hungary. Talent was booked, tickets were sold, buzz was built.
Then, on the night of the show, Friday, Feb. 17, the fiercest storm to hit Los Angeles since 1995, according to the National Weather Service, sabotaged the event.
“It was the biggest show that we were having yet,” says Westbom, whose producer moniker is Asteroids and Earthquakes. “We get there, try to set up, the whole block is out of power, and this is about an hour before doors open. It all turned into a giant joke pretty immediately. Right when it happened it was: Let everyone know, freak out a little bit, and then try to find an underground [venue] to move the party to.”
Because it was only two months after the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland last December, Westbom’s underground connections were wary of hosting this now-homeless event. “We exhausted our options,” Westbom says with a shrug. “I called every underground connection and honestly, because of the Oakland fire, most places that I could just throw a pop-up party at are either gone or not down.”
The night was officially a bust, but that didn't stop Deak, the Synaptik crew and a few guest-listers from partaking in their own, homespun night of debauchery. “We just got drunk at Angel City Brewery.”
While Synaptik Events and their co-promoters, Table Productions, took major financial hits from the storm catastrophe, Westbom’s unwaveringly jolly demeanor kept morale afloat. (Synaptik and Table will host both Andreilien and AMB in separate events this summer.) Now focused on Asteroids and Earthquakes, he has since played the Lucidity Festival pre-party at Union Nightclub in March and Boogaloo Festival last weekend, and has an upcoming show with Supersillyus and Mumukshu, also at Union, on May 11.
While organizing shows is Westbom’s bread and butter, creating music is his heart and soul. Moving to Los Angeles only three years ago from Boston, where he studied viola and electronic music production at the illustrious Berklee College of Music, his cannonball into the underground festival community was immediate.
“I’d never even visited L.A., and the second day I was out here I was booked for this party at Lake Elsinore,” Westbom recalls with excitement in his eyes. “Right away it was just like family — I met my roommate in L.A., fell asleep in the car, woke up and all of a sudden I’m looking at mountains with projection-mapped trees on Lake Elsinore and I’m like, ‘This isn’t Massachusetts anymore — this is the best thing ever!’”
At Berklee College of Music, all applicants must play an instrument to get in, then upon acceptance can narrow down their major. For Westbom, the viola was his ticket in, but electronic music production had always tickled his interest. After a fortuitous encounter with dorm neighbor and underground bass music producer Jade Cicada in 2009, he began developing tendonitis in his arm from years of viola playing. This was a sign, both physically and figuratively, for him to put down the strings and pick up the laptop.
“Honestly, 2009 changed my whole life,” Westbom says. “The first kid I met when I moved into the dorms was Jade Cicada. He showed me Tipper for the first time and I was like, ‘That changes things.’”
David Tipper, a U.K.-based electronic producer and early pioneer of glitch and bass music, has had this profound effect on many producers. Tipper was the literal tipping point for Westbom, and as he became more immersed in electronic music, he began to shift his gaze to the West Coast. While Berklee College of Music is a Petri dish of talented musicians, the surrounding area did not foster much of a bass scene.
Three years later, Asteroids and Earthquakes is playing festivals, producing events and creating a fan base that is growing exponentially. His Tipper-inspired style of drippy, viscous bass music that makes you feel like you’re underwater is a perfect fit for the underground festival community.
The event most dear to Westbom, though, is Bass Waffles — a night that promises “free waffles and fat bass.” Occurring the last Sunday of every month at Highland Park’s midcentury-themed bar the Offbeat, Bass Waffles has grown into something of a sensation amid local bass fanatics.
“Bass Waffles was all a joke,” Westbom explains as he laughs about the origins of the event, which was conceived by Table Productions' Ed Renn and is co-produced by Table, Synaptik and a third group, Fuzzy Puddles. “We made waffles at a show we put on once and everybody loved them. They were like, ‘Why do you have waffles here?’ and we’re like, ‘Because we like waffles and bass music.’ There is never a day where I’m not stoked on Bass Waffles.”
Bass Waffles just completed its third Sunday, filling up the intimate venue with upward of 200 patrons. Highland Park locals as well as bass-heads and waffle lovers are uniting for this silly marriage of fresh-pressed batter and glitchy, gurgling electronic music. Westbom and crew’s playful attitude is the backbone of Bass Waffles, as employees of the Offbeat can attest.
“It’s low pressure, it’s a free event, nobody has to really worry about a thing, and the Offbeat loves us,” says Westbom. “We’re partying, we’re dancing, we’re giving people waffles. They see that we’re just a bunch of goobers having fun, and that’s kind of the whole point of it.”
Asteroids and Earthquakes performs with Supersillyus, Mumukshu, DaVoid and Dela Moontribe at Union on Thursday, May 11. More info.
Note: An earlier version of this article neglected to mention the involvement of Table Productions and Fuzzy Puddles in many of Westbom's events. We regret the oversight.