For the rave-baby boomers who are newer adherents to dance music, you may be unfamiliar with the Northwest scene of days past. Back when ticket prices were cheap, NWTekno was the place to find upcoming parties and you could always count on there being a smoking section out back. Phase 3 Events is among the list of local event production companies that helped shape the beautiful Northwest scene as we know it today. Since 2002, Phase 3 Events founder Marc Pospisil has been producing popular underground show series like Kandyland and Blackout. However, with the changing tides of raving and EDM into the mainstream, underground promoters aren’t able to thrive in the same scene they helped establish. We caught up with Marc to find out why he’s saying farewell to Phase 3 Events.
Over the last 4 years, dance music has gotten bigger and most of the promoters went out of business. How is that for a head scratcher? Webb Werx, Digital Innovators, Pussycat, Skunky Beats, Madcow, Beat Affinity, Next Level, all are gone now, add to the list Phase 3 Events.
With the rise of festivals and massives, many attendees expect a certain level of production value along with famous names on the marquee. Marc believed the biggest change in the scene started around 2011, when EDM began to gain popularity. There was a major shift in the event business from theme-driven shows to a stronger emphasis on headliners. “People came for the party and the headliners were a bonus,” he said. “People came for the theme. Now if you don’t have that big name, or more like names, you are running a risk.” Marc accounted this as one of the reasons why Phase 3 is unable to compete with the big guys in this new rave landscape.
Another issue underground promoters face is the lack of appropriate venues. Choosing a venue that the crowd supports is essential for a successful event. In our current era of Showbox, Neumos and Studio 7, the latter is the most viable option for promoters financially. However, Marc said Studio 7 is a challenge because people simply don’t support it. A couple of years ago, venues like King Kat Theater and Club Motor flourished with all-age crowds nearly every week. Marc even helped establish a handful of these venues through his events. He talked about the rise and fall of The Citadel/O Events Center, a nearly deteriorating club that he turned into one of Seattle’s best rave spots since the heydays of Naf Studios. It began with Whiteout 8 in 2010. “It was the biggest crowd I’ve ever pulled, more than two times bigger than anything I had done before,” Marc recalled. “So many people still talk about that as one of the best shows they had ever been too.” Eventually, it was shut down by the Seattle Police Department after being declared a chronic nuisance property destination.
The controversy behind all-ages and/or 16+ events can be seen all over the country. Recently, Ultra Music Festival raised the age restriction up to 18+ following the death of an attendee in 2014. Perhaps due to liability issues or bad press in the media, the decline in support for underage shows is another factor of why local promoters can’t compete. Once a safe haven for kandi kids and runaways, underage underground shows are becoming few and far between.
Would I throw more shows? Yes most likely, but not these 16+ rave events. If the landscape changed drastically, if a venue came online that could change people’s attitudes and opinions, maybe. I just don’t feel like with what I have to work with both in venues and financially that it makes sense to continue.
Whiteout 12 and the Future for Marc
While his time in event production may be over for now, Marc is continuing to pursue big things in the EDM industry. Also known by many as his stage name MarQ, Marc is focusing his attention on musical endeavors and his career as a producer and DJ. He says he’s putting in more studio time and currently in talks with a label for releasing one of his tracks. You can also catch Marc spinning at Foundation Nightclub on Progression Saturdays, with his next booking as an opener for BT on November 15.
Phase 3 Events is celebrating the last curtain call on Saturday November 22 with the final Whiteout 12. The two headliners, hard trance DJ and producer Yoji and hardstyle duo Crisis Era, embody the energy and underground spirit of Phase 3, bringing 12 years of 16+ events to a close. Upon announcing the event, Marc said he received a lot of messages from people who expressed their gratitude for his events and the impact they’ve had on their lives. He hopes to draw a sellout crowd, bringing underground rave attendees together for one final show.
Every show I have done, no matter how good or bad I think it went, people make memories, meet new friends, share life experiences and grow as people. If only one person gets that out of a show, it was worthwhile.
It’s no doubt that Marc has made huge contributions to the Northwest rave scene. We wish Marc the best of luck in all endeavors and will be looking out for any 21+ events that he may produce in the future. Join Dance Music Northwest as we party one last time with Phase 3 Events at Studio 7. For tickets and information on Whiteout 12, visit the Facebook event page.