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.
I’m headed to a New Years Eve party in Brooklyn tonight and was asked if I had a danceable version of “Auld Lang Syne” to drop at midnigt. I didn’t. Instead I made this medly of some memorable pop hits from the last decade, kicked off by a classic, Glen Miller version of “Auld.” Enjoy, and happy new year!
I’ve had many conversations with friends about what we call “yeahrhh rock.” You know, the stuff that was sparked by the love-child of Eddie Vedder‘s and James Hetfield‘s vocal stylings?
I was reminded of these conversations after reading a hilarious article in Wired magazine about the music website Pandora. The question is weather Pandora can actually help someone with their bad taste. Here’s an exhertp:
I was 10 when I realized I had lousy taste in music. Billy Joel’s “An Innocent Man” was my gateway drug: I listened to it on infinite loop, in perfect contentment, for days. Later, in high school, I began huffing a deadly theater-nerd mix of piano-driven rock balladry, pseudo-political folk-pop, Danny Elfman soundtracks, and Enigma. College, the place where most people atone for the sonic sins of their youth, was a haze of Ben Folds Five and Dave Matthews Band. And things haven’t really improved since. Bad taste was less of a problem when our playlists were private affairs. Today, however, our personal soundtracks broadcast who we are, and it’s simply not acceptable to swan around with the Indigo Girls’ “Galileo,” Annie Lennox’s “Walking on Broken Glass,” or (God help me!) Billy Joel’s “Big Man on Mulberry Street” blazing across your iPhone screen. (One is ironic, two is quixotic, but try all three and you can hear the NSA giggling on the other end of the line.)
Wow! This is the same guy who recorded early Bob Marley & The Wailers tracks before reggae even existed yet, and then went on to help define reggae and dub throughout the ’60s and ’70s with his band the Upsetters.
Hi folks, got a new mix of all my fave up-to-the-minute juke – bassline – ghetto – step – sleaze – rave – core nonsense. Lots of exclusive / upfront stuff from myself, my label-mates, and some other assorted pals. (PS to said label-mates & pals–thanks!)
Oh, and this is really, profoundly not-safe-for-work in a couple of parts, so be forewarned.
I’m getting ready to head out to Baltimore tomorrow for a visit with my man Gregzinho (of Beat Diaspora fame) before my gig in Silver Spring, MD on Friday night. I normally couldn’t be around B’more without ruminating on that city’s club music which has been such an influence.
Now I won’t be able to be there without thinking of B’more’s club queen, DJ K-Swift. She died Monday after a swimming pool accident and the Baltimore club scene is reeling. She’s been a mainstay in the the scene since the early days, and for the past 10 years had been spreading the B’more gospel as a high profile radio personality on Baltimore’s Q92 station.
As a female DJ, K-Swift was rare in the male-dominated scene she loved. She took club music’s raw and raunchy attitude by the horns and worked it. In honor of her life, I’ve made this little remix using an acapella from one her Club Queen albums. Club on, queen!