In those dark and paranoid hours counting down to the dawn of the 21st Century, Planet Earth went crazy. Seers, prognosticators, and IT experts spun a doomsday scenario called Y2K, wherein the world's computers would totally freak out, causing electrical grid explosions, fiery interstate pileups, and the total collapse of civilized society.
Yet on the eve of the predicted apocalypse, Grant Howl and the entire Under One Beat crew threw a party, dragging a drum circle into downtown Asheville, North Carolina, creeping out the locals, and attracting a crowd of several thousand associates.
"We never felt like the world was gonna end," says Howl, a Miami native who now lives in North Carolina. "But we wanted to have all our friends in the same place in case it did."
The Trinumeral Festival: With Big Boi, Blackalicious, Tokimonsta, and others. Friday, October 8, at 7th Circuit Studios, 228 NE 59th St., Miami. Saturday, October 9, at White Room, 1306 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Sunday, October 10, at Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors open at 9 p.m. each night. Advance tickets cost $15 to $25, and three-day passes cost $50; trinumeral.com.
This first spontaneous assembly — shall we call it 0/0/0? — marked the semi-official birth of the annual mind-meld that would eventually be known as the Trinumeral Festival. As set forth in Howl's mini-manifesto, every 12 months or so when "the day, month, and year align in auspicious numeric sameness," there would be a party of epically awesome proportions.
In the decade that followed, Trinumeral staked its claim to once-a-year aural weirdness while shifting from city to city along the Southeastern coast. There was Charlotte twice and then Cinco de Mayo in Miami. Then came 8/8/8.
"I used to live in Shanghai," Howl explains. "In Chinese, the word for eight also means money. So we thought, 'Maybe we could make some money this year. Let's try to do something really big.' And it was the first year we produced a full-scale, major American music festival. We had a 1,000-acre nature preserve, three stages, 71 bands, and almost 3,500 people showed up."
Now, in honor of 10/10/10, Trinumeral will return to Miami, teleporting 30 distinct musical entities to three different clubs — 7th Circuit Studio, White Room, and Grand Central — for three consecutive nights of brainy hip-hop, tripped-out electro, deep dubstep, and other kinds of cryptic party noise.
The descent into strangeness will start this Friday with the fest's most extreme sounds blasting through the 7th Circuit Studio main cave. In the words of San Francisco electronic subverter Eprom, one of the kickoff show's big names, "It seems that my night is more of a showcase for experimental sounds."
So you have beat architect Tokimonsta, a tiny Japanese woman armed with massive bass lines, floating near the top of the bill while Miami's own master of the magic triangle, Otto Von Schirach, and a gang of nine — Panic Bomber, Panther God, Jacque Polynice, Gift, Spytek vs. Mr. Atomic, Kentsoundz, Okulus Anomali & Solfire, Charlie Astro, and Marley Carroll — hang out just below.
No doubt, everyone should expect seven solid hours of mind-altering tuneage. And even Eprom is aligned with that idea. "My stuff isn't psychedelic in a literal sense. It doesn't sound like psytrance or anything," he jokes. "But I want the music to be more of a head-shifting experience."
It's this whole shared-reality theme that dominates the Trinumeral mindspace, even though both Saturday and Sunday nights are anchored in more concrete tropes like hip-hop, bass, and electro-pop. "Underlying everything is the psychedelic party vibe," Howl says. "And even though some nights might seem hip-hop themed, that's gonna break away at a certain point."
Says MC Gift of Gab from Saturday's headlining rap duo Blackalicious, "Hip-hop's always been about crossover. You can take rock and you can make it hip-hop. You can take country and make it hip-hop."
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So spend Friday with the freaks and then show up again Saturday at White Room to suck up sounds from Blackalicious and 11 other consciousness-expanding agents, including locals like indie god John Hancock, sexy dancey duo BFGF, and idiosyncratic mixer Benton.
But the night that cannot be missed under any circumstances is Sunday's dawning of the true Trinumeral — 10/10/10 — at Grand Central, starring monumental Outkast rapper Big Boi. Both hot and cold, the ATLien will reign over this final night like a frozen Phoenix spitting fire while Cali's Mochipet, North Carolina's Bowie Van Ling, and MIA's Juan Basshead, ¡Mayday!, and ArtOfficial all fan the flames. The imagined effect is so enormously devastating that "electrical grid explosions, fiery interstate pileups, and the total collapse of civilized society" instantaneously flood your brain.
And indeed, Howl and crew are so stoked they're already gearing up for 2012's Armageddon date. "You know, it started with the idea of an apocalypse," he says. "And here we are facing 12/12/12 and the whole Mayan idea of the apocalypse, which to some people signifies the Great Awakening or another great shift in consciousness. Whether it means the end of the world or not, we can't really speculate on it."
Either way, the End will be an awesome time to party, right? Long live Trinumeral.