The Puppet Master, The Wizard, The King of the Sound; Bassnectar’s Lorin Ashton has many names and a more than dedicated cult following reminiscent of the Grateful Dead. His most recent annual event, Spring Gathering, brought together more than 15,000 fans from all over the world under the roof of Chicago’s Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on March 30th and 31st. There they gathered to be a part of his other-worldly culmination of hypnotic lights, encompassing sound, and emotions never to be forgotten.

Bassnectar works his magic at Spring Gathering

To many who have not seen Bassnectar work his magic firsthand, it may be a mystery as to why so many of his fans are willing to dish out hundreds of dollars in traveling expenses and ticket costs time and time again just to see him.

I think the answer lies within my experience at my first live show. On that day, like many other people, I realized that this was not only a first; it was a beginning.

The lights dim...The crowd screams, the energy of everybody around you permeates with your own as you realize that the exact moment that everyone in this room is here for...is now! The first song [VIDEO] plays and the sounds begin to entrance the room with such precision, as we all get on board for the journey he will bring us through in these next 2 hours. Never have I so thoroughly been moved by music before. I am a musician myself, and I have laughed, I have cried, I have danced, I have been lulled to sleep and awoken again by music but never have I so perfectly been moved through so many emotions by the likes of one man and his creative mind.

The Puppet Master ties his strings around our limbs and moves us all; dipping us down and pulling us forward, then making us rise again, every sound pulling us in a new direction. One moment you are thrashing your head back and forth, losing yourself so thoroughly in the heavy bass that you can literally feel it in your chest, rattling around in your rib cage as you rage. These moments bring out the most primal side of you, and we all become animals.

Bassnectar brings us together

Then, in a sweeping moment of mesmeric transition he takes us from that place of high energy and stills our bodies, stills our minds, and captivates our awareness. His next song brings us all to tears as it touches us all on an individual level, and as a collective, making us realize that our hearts beat together. When it’s time for us to put our minds back together and funnel out of the doors to wherever he just held this supernatural ritual, words never seem to quite illustrate what just happened; and they never will.

When you least expect it, he decides it’s time for everybody there to hear something, to learn something. Ashton uses his recognition to spread mindful words and fuel his fans with inspiration. I have witnessed speeches from him and guest speakers that have made my knees crumble, changed the perspectives of many, and left whole rooms in awe; words that will forever echo through my mind. With his ideals of love, peace, and respect, he has made such a palpable difference not just on the mentality of individuals, but on this world as a whole. His unwavering ability to stand up against opposition when spreading his political thoughts, his determination to lift the curtains and spread light and love into all of our hearts -- and make sure his message is so clear that it stays there -- will never fail to bewilder me.

So that’s what it’s like to stare into the sun? It’s blinding, and sometimes it’s even hard to make sense of all that’s happening right in front of your eyes; but it’s so beautiful that none of us can seem to look away. It is so much more than music, it is so much more than a concert, it is so much more than any of us in that room. Lorin Ashton has created a family, a platform to spread his heartfelt messages around the world, and a sound that will never be forgotten.