Must Be The Beer

I had an interesting experience DJing in Portland, OR last night. It was similar to something I once witnessed at a gig in Ghent, Belgium. The more wild, crazy, hard & heavy I was willing to go with the music, the more the crowd responded and danced.

The opposite is generally the norm in Chicago, Boston, and really most places I’ve played. The more familiar the crowd is with the music, the more they dance. If I go a bit too left-field the dance-floor clears in a hurry. When that’s the case I find myself dropping a track like “Waterfalls” by TLC to get the crowd back on the floor. Last night, after I’d play some classic dancehall or an Eric B & Rakim track, I’d begin to lose ’em and had to play super-esoteric dubstep or breakcore to fill the dance again.

Today I had brunch with my friend Paul AKA Strategy who runs the Community Library record label, and he observed that Portland seems to have a crew of working-class party kids who who are gravitating toward extreme music. The breakcore/dubstep events like the one I played at last night are drawing upwards of 700 enthusiastic, sonic-freaks. This crew is unlike the folks Paul referred to as “hipsters” who represented a gentrification of underground culture and who, at this point, gravitate toward more mainstream sounds.

I’ve witnessed what Paul’s taking about in Chicago too. The hipster club-nights tend to specialize in forms of music that have bubbled to the top; weather it’s electro-house, ’90s revivalist stuff, or ironic mashups. DJs at those nights might be able to drop in a dubstep track for underground cred, but if they were to play more than a couple they’d be in danger of losing the crowd.

Obviously there’s a time and place for mainstream dance-party action, but I wonder why there’s not more place for underground experimentation. I don’t mean nights of specific music like “Stictly acid-crunk all the time!” In my view that’s were genres steer off the cliff. When drum & bass, dubstep, etc solidified into something definable their specialty club-nights became a bore.

With that in mind. Check out Strategy’s “A Rainy Night in Portland” mix for XLR8R ->

I never realized Nu Shooz was from Portland!

11 thoughts on “Must Be The Beer

  1. Man, I’m sorry I missed you!!! I don’t know how I did…

    Glad you had a good experience, and yes, the beer rules here. Hope you got a whiff of some of our bud, too.

    Love the mixes, keep it up.

    M

  2. DJ CEE- was great to have you out and get some quality hangout time. You owe it to yourself to give Leprechaun in the hood a netflix so you can finish watching that gem of a movie.

    Cheers,
    e

  3. Jake, great to see u. I’m glad u had so much fun kickin it with us. Hope you have a great summer! Thanks for the kind words about us we try and keep it gully… haha.. cheers man!

  4. Thanks, Matthew. Hopefully next time!

    Pipedream, Great hangin’! No need for the reminder about Leprechaun. I’ve obviously been thinking of it 24/7 since I left. Truly a “high”-point of the trip.

    Big up PDX!

  5. i think this has been a big problem across america
    for a long time now. i think the early midwest drop bass type hardcore scene that mixed up so much techno, jungle, gabber, acid, etc. is a good example of how things can translate into bigger audiences reaching a wider spectrum of people when
    so much self consciousness doesnt pervade the hipster elite who have the most resources and do the most networking to decide what kind of genre there ever more specific and musically exclusive there club night is. you have to stop caring about what people think about you at a club to let loose and get wild, and that kind of brash not caring about how you look completely negates everything hipsters in big or small cities stand for. Theres so much music out there and its all free, and theres so few ways for people to express there identity to others, that how can you convince people to support or enjoy music publically that they might really like but doesnt make them look cool?

  6. Hey Miguel,

    Yeah, the irony is that new scenes/kinds of music can’t start without risk-takers and experimenters. When I was in art school in the ’90s and people wore big glasses, sported mullets, and wore tight, acid-wash jeans they were absolutely complete freaks. Even most of the other art students thought they were crazy. Turns out they were the trend setters.

    The same is true in music. In the early ’90s dancehall, techno, hip-hop, house, etc. combined to make jungle. Eventually it homogenized and turned into the utterly hip, and generally boring D&B of the late ’90s. It was at that point when folks like DJ /rupture combined breakcore, R&B, sound-art, cumbia, crunk, jungle, and pop into new hybrids that would go on to influence hipster gawdz like Diplo.

    And on goes the cycle…

  7. Speaking of which…. playing in NY any time soon? (if you’re in the area incidentally, I would probably semi-know some people who would love to have you play)

  8. Yes, I often wonder how our musical culture came to defined by the mediocre, when it was adventurousness that starts each little branch and path.

    The word that best defines how I feel about most music once it has solidified into an easily identifiable fixed identity is: tepid.

    That’s how dubstep especially has made me feel lately. There is awesome stuff happening on the fringes, but at clubs and such? It’s middle of the road chainsaw dumb. Blah.

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