Electronic Spotlight: Blast Off

Cirque Du Womp ‘Blasts Off’ With New Music Festival

Words By Ben Solis

Angela Palaian is not a techno-head, and she never claimed to be.

As the co-founder and lead organizer of Cirque Du Womp, a dubstep party franchise that specializes in the fusion of electronic music, circus performance, art and community youth outreach programs, the 24-year-old Detroit native said that it has always been about the bigger picture.

“My favorite artist is Ani D’Franco, who is this alternative rocker bitch who plays guitar and sings,” said Palaian. “We’ve had this connection with Dubstep for so long, but we’ve never felt like that was our genre. That’s why we’re doing this festival. It gives us a chance to evolve.”

Getting out of the stuffy clubs and lofts of downtown Detroit, Palaian and Cirque Du Womp have setup shop in Bellefontaine, Ohio, to host their first outdoor music festival called “The Blastoff.”

Renting out the Zane Shawnee Caverns Native American Reservation from June 16-19, the Cirque Du Womp crew aims to deliver an experience yet to be seen at other exhibitions.

That experience, according to Palaian, will include two days of up-and-coming artists and Du Womp’s famous circus play.

“We are very into the counterculture of the electronic and jam-band scene,” she said, “but what we're most concerned about is the type of environment we can offer our guests.”

Created in 2009, Du Womp was formed by the alliance of Palaian and her partners in crime: lighting engineer Scott Sutterfield and DJ Grant “K@tdog” Jackson.

“We met each other through a few different channels," said Palaian, recalling the chance meeting that had brought them together. “I was involved with the party production scene and Grant had just begun to dabble in electronic music, while Scott at the time was renting a loft in the Russell Industrial Center doing art shows.”

Ultimately, their individual endeavors had been unsuccessful, which led the trio to start producing their own shows.

Looking for a unique spin on an already popular scene, Palaian found the answer at the circus.

“We each had a different skill set that balanced appropriately and covered all the bases we needed for a properly executed counterculture party in Detroit,” she said.

The integration of those skill sets and a love of all things musical led to the group’s annual Dubstep Circus, which has broken new ground in Detroit's already bustling party and night-life.

“We really feel like we are pioneers in this whole scene,” said Palaian, commenting on the now popular trend of musical-sideshows and live painting, something Du Womp staff artist Seymour has spearheaded. “Now there’re different things popping up everywhere trying to do the same thing, and we’ve been booked at for three other festivals this year.”

Luckily for those outside the state of Michigan looking for a fresh new festival, The Blastoff is centrally located in Western Ohio.

And the locale is a large moot-point for the big-name acts looking to expand their fan base, according to Tom McKee, keyboardist and co-songwriter of Brothers Past.
“It’s not really a place that we go to a lot, so it will be really fun and interesting playing somewhere we don’t on a regular basis,” said McKee. “Also the fact that the festival is geared toward electronic music is really cool. Our music is really in the club, DJ vibe so we’ll fit right in.

“Some festivals or club dates kind of pigeon-hole electronic music to only night gigs, but this will be going on for two days.”

The fact that the festival is not solely for DJ’s is also something he looks forward to, said McKee.

With the festival only a month away, Palaian reassured that the days of Dubstep Circus are not over, only that they have evolved into a bigger and brighter party.    “It has to evolve and move on,” she said. “One of the main reasons for doing the festival was because you can’t offer live bands at an electronic show. The crowd and the environment aren’t suited for it.”

The festival also gives the group a chance to showcase what they love the most: good times with quality music of all genres.

“We want to offer an opportunity where people will come for really good music and since they are already there, they can enjoy the whole big picture. We just can’t do that with electronic music alone.”

The Blastoff Music Festival takes place June 17th - 19th at Zane Shawnee Caverns in Ohio. Gates will open on June 16 at noon. Tickets range from $100 - $135 and can be purchased online at www.showclix.com. For festival information and complete artist line up, visit...



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