Local promoter presents first Alaskan EDM festival, gateway to much larger festivals in future

Festival headliner Matt Aubrey performs at the SPiN launch party held at Chilkoot Charlies on Friday, March 9th. Photo by Krystal Garrison

Tourists flock to Alaska for many things, such as cruises, mountains, wildlife and the Iditarod. Alaska’s entertainment scene, that is, the various concerts and shows that are scheduled around the state, don’t typically draw in the out-of town tourism similar scenes boast in the lower 48.

One local promoter, Michael Mason, is trying to change that. He and his company, A Dose of Know-How, specialize in throwing electronic dance music (EDM) parties, and has been doing so since 2007. When The Northern Light spoke to Mason in March 2010, he had just saved one such dance party from being cancelled due to a previously unknown municipal code requiring additional paperwork. Two years later, Mason has furthered his ambitions of putting Alaska on the map for EDM party enthusiasts by putting together Alaska’s first EDM festival, SPiN, a two day event featuring both local DJs and out-of-state acts.

Kicking off the festival was a 21+ launch party at Chilkoot Charlie’s on Friday, March 9. While the event was successful, it wasn’t as well-attended as Masons’s usual events. Kamden Richards, a fan of Masons’s parties, believes it had to do in part with the age restriction of the bar.

“Considering that most of the underage crowd gets an allowance or has odd jobs or whatever when they’re not in school, the underage crowd does have the money, the disposable income, whereas adults that are 21 and up usually hold full time jobs and aren’t really able to spend as much,” said Richards. “Me being a perfect example, you know, I’m a single father, and I worry more about bills than I worry about anything else.”

Mason’s previous events, all of which were all-ages, have gathered steam and interest over the years; his last big event, the Sno White Halloween Massive at the Egan Center on Friday, Oct. 28, sold out with 2,000 attendees.

Knowmatic Noize plays an unscheduled set at the SPiN launch party. Photo by Krystal Garrison

“My goal was to pull 500 people [for his first EDM event]; we pulled 420, so I’m like, “Alright, I gotta keep trying. A year later, I book a show at the Bunker, and we pulled 550…Three years later, to the date, same party, I pulled my first 1,000 person show,” said Mason. “Last year, same party, at the Egan Center, sold out with 2,000 people…My long term goals are ten year goals, and that’s 100,000 people at an outdoor music festival in Alaska, attended globally. And I’m going to accomplish that.”

Local DJ Knowmatic Noize, who opened on the first day of SPiN, thinks Mason’s goals are attainable.

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“I think that Anchorage needs something like this [SPiN]. It’s going to open up a little more of a limelight to a lot of the artists that I would potentially like to bring up here. I mean, people need to realize that electronic music is a strong force everywhere else in the world. So, hey, we’re Alaska, we’re part of the world; let’s bring it here,” he said. “I think his [Mason’s] five to 10 year goal, you know, Alaska is a pretty good tourist destination, and with the economy the way it is, I think a music festival would definitely bring in a bit more of what we need to keep our economy going…I travel all around the world to see Bassnectar and music festivals out there that I like, and I’d like to actually have that at my home. I don’t want to spend all my mileage going to Timbuktu to see my favorite artists.”

Mason already has a plan for his goal mapped out.

“Within the next three years, I intend to have the Under the Midnight Sun Music Festival, that’s going to eventually be a 100,000 person party, at the 10k mark, and that’s what’s going to allow me to kick-off my global advertising campaign with Alaska-shaped die cut fliers landing in every single city hosting an internationally attended music festival throughout the entire globe.”