Photography by Becca Levy
Check out all of Becca’s Heartburn 6 photos here!
Whoa dude. Whatever reason you used to skip Heartburn 6 this year, you missed out. Whether it was the venue or the cost or the sheer annoyance that is Valentine’s Day, if it deterred you enough to skip this show—get over yourself, and get on the list for next year. Impressed was an understatement, but it was the word on everyone’s lips all night. Despite poor weather and a venue that scared people away (perhaps why the location was kept a secret), Heartburn 6, the annual fundraiser for the Philadelphia Experiment (PEX) theme camp, was a huge success. I saw sparkling smiles and heard rave reviews all night. My favorite way to tell the success of a party, however, is to check the puddle at the end of the night for the bored and bitchy, the irritated or exhausted, and see what scathing comments they can come up with to explain their ennui. Yes, that is how I get my kicks. But other than two couples making out, the puddle was absolutely empty. There was no one who wanted to share their sadness or sarcasm. Everyone was still dancing.
The marching brass bands are what did me in. Drums, french horns, trombones, even tubas all playing sweet brass jazz as they wound their way through the party, the music skirling around the deep bassy whomp that pumped out of the speakers—awesome live music is my secret critic’s kryptonite. Seriously, if you want to set a new standard for electronic parties, add something we don’t expect. PEX did that, over and over again. Fortune telling, Cirque du Soleil acrobats tightrope walking over the main floor, even a freaking ferris wheel! This gypsy circus pervaded the entire party. While several people said that the worst part about Heartburn was the Electric Factory, a place known for poor sound and awful security, PEX managed to turn the venue into something we have never seen before—a playful exotic wonderland of music and art.
PEX also expanded the music selection available, with the normally-VIP-area of the Electric Factory open to all and bangin with the wonderful thumpy wobbles of dubstep and DnB. Of all complaints about PEX parties I’ve ever heard, the most persistent is their dependency on house music. The back-room bass of DJs such as Down Jones, Basskitty, and The Architech finally put a smile on the face of even the most dub-addicted critic. My moment for the night was there—sweaty and bouncing— as Elliott Levin of the West Philadelphia Orchestra snuggled up to the speaker with me and treated those of us at the front to a impromptu jam on his soprano saxophone. His timing was spectacular, and as his fingers glittered on the keys and his instrument traced hypnotic sigils in the air, we worked our bodies and danced like demons possessed. Live music will do that to a man—it draws out the beast that the precise elements of EDM keeps neatly caged. You can’t control what that blend of live + electronic vibration will make you do. The spontaneous energy of a live solo combined with the precise intensity of electronic music is so powerful that I’m surprised we don’t power our submarines with it. It definitely powered the party.
Photography by Will Tanksley
Check out all of Will’s Heartburn 6 photos here!
The two upstairs puddle rooms were filled with the wonderful smell of french fries from the food vendors and offered a relaxing vantage point from which to watch the crowd. The main room was held down by world-class uber-talents such as Lee Mayjahs? and DJ Everyday, and I found myself relaxing in the back stands, happy to be in those seats for the first time ever at the Electric Factory. I loved watching the mob dance and surge beneath me, while a huge ring of lights strafed the room with split-second illumination of party particulars. Security presence was very strong but they were, to me at least, respectful. Many people did not go because they hate the security, sound, and enormous impersonal nature of the location, but it seemed like this event was exactly what the Electric Factory was always meant to be—a giant club reminiscent of Ibiza, where the odd warping of music that happens in that room works its way naturally into the electronic sound, where the security isn’t always scumbags and where participants can get down on a big dance floor or snuggle into a nook on the side. We were happy to be wherever we found ourselves once the show became less about each song and more about the whole experience. We had no idea the Electric Factory could be this good.
What—you say? A PEX party wasn’t overcrowded and the Electric Factory was enjoyable? Wow! How did this happen? Both of them listened to their community and took a chance on something—really several things—new. New music, new experiences, and new attitudes that reassure us all that parties and venues really do want to be better. Heartburn 6 changed the mind of many party goers about PEX and the Electric Factory for years to come. Even breakdown was quick and painless, which allowed people to head quickly to the afterparty at Bubbles and Bass and keep the delicious dancey vibe going. Good job PEX—once again, showing the Burner community how it’s done.