It’s around 12:30 am on Saturday night, the sixth day of Together 2012. Between work and jumping from show to show every night for the past six days, I don’t remember the last time I’ve slept. I’m down to bikini bottoms from neglecting my laundry, have lost all of my friends in the crowd, and I’m not sure how much longer I can make it—when over the drum n bass music rises MC Armanni Reign’s shout:
“Genesis! You know what we got comin’ on now in a couple of minutes—“
Cheers and sweaty arms rise high into the air. The anticipation is palpable. I press my face up against the screen that reaches across the back wall of Machine, glowing bright with morphing geometric patterns, sometimes shifting to puddles of water dripping and splashing in all different colors. I tilt my head back and look up at the jungle of neon yellow, green and orange distended slime oozing from the ceiling and bright floating orbs, then at the pole dancers twisting to the beat in skin tight outfits and heels, then glance down at my own white shirt—even I’m transformed by the tropical atmosphere. The blacklights change every object to deep blues, flashing lights turn all else into pinks and greens, swirling like the huge crowd of dancing bodies, closed eyes, and smiling faces that fill the entire room. I’ve never seen Machine so totally transformed.
Then all noise ceases but a slow, thunderous bass (think: Bum, bum, BUM…). The floor, the entire universe seems to be shaking as the MC that has been by his side for the last twelve years continues…
“The one. The legendary. PHOOOOO-TEK!”
Dun Dun Dun…
Raising his right arm in the air towards us when he positions himself on the high DJ booth and looks out, he begins clapping …
Twenty minutes (or so) in, I’m thinking, “wait! I have to take notes for this—”
We can fight our desires
Ouuhh but when we start making fires
We get ever so hot
Ouuhh whether we like it or not.
The melodic voice of La Roux’s “In For the Kill,” the downtempo Skream remix, fills the air.
They say we can love who we trust
Ouuhh but what is love without lust?
All around me, hands are swaying in the air. Not a still hip in sight, only hot, sweaty, bodies moving to the beat. Dropping classics ranging from everything from D&B to dubstep, the deep bass washes over us, Photek’s definitely going in for the kill … the couple next to me are touching each other’s faces as they dance closely, everyone’s breaking it down low, slowly … the air layered heavily with lust …
Wait. I’m at the sexiest dance party in all the land right now…
I’m going in for the kill
I’m doing it for a thrill
“Put your hands up!” Armanni Reign shouts, as we all lift them. “Who wants to hear that bass?”
Oh I’m hoping you’ll understand
And not let go of my hand…
…as I disappear into every dance floor this week.
Because as the bass comes in, the tempo picks up, and all the hands drop with it … some dude grabs my mine and pulls me into a new dance circle … and we all get lost as Photek slams the packed room with heavy drum and bass. Everyone on the floor goes nuts.
I’m goin’ in...
We are now reporting live from Together 2012.
“Dude, Diplo keeps DMing me, and like talking to me like I’m his friend and stuff,” my friend Adam says to me as we approach the door between the Foundation room and the inside of the House of Blues on Tuesday night (Though I’ve covered Nero at fests a bunch of times, I to this day never realize what I’m getting myself into when I say I’ll do it). “…I don’t think he realizes he doesn’t know me.”
I also don’t realize, because I’m mulling over when I’m going to get to dance to more mind-blowing house sets by Kyle Hall like the one Together brought for the VIP party the night before …
… or why I have yet to go to DEMF … or when the next show at the sleek Naga in Cambridge is going to be, considering the soulless bouncers, screaming, and general debauchery of 16-year-olds I’ve already had to endure even before reaching the threshold of House of Blues.
But then Adam opens the door to the main room and BOOM!
All thought ceases. I briefly consider turning around. It’s been a while.
2,000+ kids with hands smacking through the air in sync with the bass, from floor to ceiling, is like a goddamn smack in the face. Joseph Ray and Daniel Stephens look like two tiny robotmen from the future on some giant space mountain with the red lights and smoke making it look like the whole thing’s on fire. I’m literally waiting for HOB to explode.
We run into the crowd and I squeeze past swarms of young girls dressed like they’re futuristic neon-glowing porn stars and contorting with bros in the strangest ways to the songs Nero drops every time, opening with “Doomsday” (this is the end of the world, I think) and continuing with “Innocence” and “Guilt.”
But I’ve never seen them do their live set with vocalist Alana Watson before, who steps to the edge of stage right, below the dubstep duo’s commander pod of doom. She’s dressed entirely in black leather with her blonde hair waving from the red and blue lit smoke explosions behind her as she sings for the above songs.
… I’m still blown away by the sheer massive humungo intensity of this huge spectacle, as something Joseph Ray said when I asked him if they went to raves when they were young, plays over and over in my head:
“Yeah yeah, we were going to drum and bass things at clubs… like Fabric and stuff. And we would see like those places and wonder what it would be like to be the DJ. It wasn’t like a huge star DJ thing, it wasn’t like you had to have a look. You were really there to listen to the music.”
So I’m thinking, then why do you have this huge fucking elaborate display right here? I think Ray would have rather been at Photek with me in the crowd than at his own show.
Which makes Middlesex for Todd Edwards at Heart Throb blow my mind even more.
Think about that many endorphins and that much energy, but transplanted into a small club where you can move from one side to the other in five seconds (when it’s not packed to bursting like it is tonight)… and where it’s literally all about the music. Someone described it to me as a “box” once, and it is: a music box.
This is one of my favorite venues of all time, and add that it’s a reunion show for a historical dance night, Heart Throb, that I’ve never gotten to fully experience and that @LILINTERNET is apparently “chaperoning,” … and I can’t get in there fast enough. While I felt like I was going to lose my mind, in an uncomfortable/confused way at HOB, the energy that fills the small Middlesex is like that energy, squared, to the @LILINTERNET power.
All I can think when I walk in is that this is definitely going to be one of the best dance parties of the week—it forges on way after the lights turn on, I’m wearing some guy’s orange rimmed sunglasses that I trade for Miles’ prescription ones as we dance, and people are, literally, hitting the dance floor.
“What! Matt Rohr! Are you lips glowing blue right now?!?!”
I say, am I losing my goddamn mind? Perhaps … while in the midst of the dance floor, only two random dudes try to grind with me, the rest of the guys are really cool, one guy wearing a fluffy cheetah print vest and fedora is especially fun to dance with … but it’s so packed that we’re all kind of dancing together. Every way I turn I see familiar faces, and it seems everyone, even David Day, has glowing blue mouths.
WTF is going on!?
I turn and crack up when I see Baltimoroder making this face:
I’m laughing. I’m dancing. And I feel like I’m home.
As Miles and I sit outside smoking a cigarette, I give him some grand speech about how this is what Together is all about. They bring both huge name acts like Nero and then some “healing house” from ridiculous talents like Todd Edwards (to heal my HOB headache), meanwhile showcasing all my local favorites like Baltimoroder (+@LILINTERNET, Dev/Null, Morgan Louis AND Nu Lifers Rizzla, Blk.Adonis, and D’hana , who all look like they’re having the time of their lives as well) right beside them …. And it’s only the second night.
OH MI GAWWW….