Friday Night. Brighton Music Hall. Together 2012.
I’m in the club, Wheez-ie‘s in the mix and…
I ain’t got no shoes on.
Wheezie is literally destroying the place. Leaning back, gangster-style behind his setup, his fingers are straight whipping back from vinyl, shoulders bumpin’. Track after track of the purest dope.
“Wheez-ie is very serious about starting the party,”
David Day says to me. And all I can think is goddamn, guy can check that off the list tonight. The place is jam packed with kicks hitting hips all around me. The crowd is loving it and going wild as I run in,
the center of gravity in the room is about three feet lower than usual.
All I can say is look out for Wheez-ie, man. Christ, Diplo dropped two of his tracks last weekend on the BBC … he throws in Berklee-trained sounds that are almost impossible to describe (I once tried to say a sound he used was akin to a very small wood pecker jacked up on speed), and expertly placed to make you move … it’s like stuff a norm producer would make, but in 3-D.
Wheez-ie has successfully built up the energy to the highest point possible when he hands over the stage to reigning Queen Diva of New Orleans Bounce Music, Big Freedia. She walks to the edge of the stage with major attitude, her team of scantily clad big-booty dancers in toe.
There’s no turning back now. Five minutes later,
“There’s simply azz everywhere.”
30 audience members, some pulled by Freedia’s own hand, are now on stage, and I can honestly say that I have never seen a place turn into such a booty-shakin’, butt-quakin’, ass-droppin’-then-lockin’ party rap extravanganza.
Brighton music hall is literally bouncing.
Dressed in huge, dangly blingin’ earrings to match her sparkle-encrusted belt, which clashes fabulously with a skin-tight leopard cheetah print top, she starts the booty dance-a-thon to end all booty-dance-a-thons. One dancer bends low in front of her, the top of her head touching the stage. Bent at her exposed belly button, her ass is straight up in the air, shaking and wobbling at wharp speed, in perfect position to be slapped by Big Freedia as she sings, “I love the way you wobble wobble for me.”
“Get it, girl!” one especially gifted booty dancer in the crowd says to me when I catch her eye. And goddamnit, when we bounce our booties back to back against each other, it’s like I’m experiencing some sort of azz epiphany.
One show chocked full of energy released out the azz.
“Hahaha!!” David Day laughs triumphantly as we drive through the deafening silence outside Brighton Music Hall to the Middle East, “LET ME SEE YOU SHAKE THAT AZZZ!” still ringing in my ears.
“Only at Together can you go from Big Freedia to Oneohtrix Point Never right across the city.”
With each step down the stairs to the basement of the Middle East, I feel like I’m diving into an ocean of rippling sonic atmospheres, instantly transformed into a surfer of totally new sound-waves … our guides are expert technicians of the most experimental, playful sort.
It’s necessary to cool down after all that booty-shakin’ and bouncin’ with Freedia with these soothing sounds that lift me into another dimension …
then I look down from the side bar and crack up at the couple right next to me who are just full-on making out.
Sonnymoon’s music is lush, bubbling, floating … all of the above, having a ripple effect on the crowd. It’s magical, really, to hear the vocalist’s soothing voice fill the air as her sparkly dress shines gold in the pitch dark.
Then Oneohtrix Point Never (listen above) is the perfect ending to a night of Wheez-ie and Freedia’s crazy dance parties. It’s like going from total sensory overload to a moody, imaginative feel, where you hear sounds and you’re like, “I can’t even fathom how he made that,” all pieced together expertly in the dark, live, with no distractions. It’s some epically experimental shit.
The two shows tonight were like day and night … or AZZ and JASS, perhaps?
The same thought strikes me on Thursday night—how satisfied my musical cravings have been of late. I’ve been feasting on a cornucopia of styles, Together is an electronic music Thanksgiving. Exploring new lands and reaping the shit out of them (minus the mass slaughter of Native Americans).
Music floats out over the trash-filled streets of Allston as we pull the door open.
Nooka Jones is up when we enter. And he’s in trouble… because he’s crossed the line. The musical genre line.
Joining Percussion Lab at only 23-years-old, Jones is a shining example of the ridunkulous talent of young producers, hitting us with a beat milk shake made fresh from blending straight fire house like Catz n Dogs, some techno, and some Soul Clap-funky-esque. But I realize it’s not important.
What’s important is that from the minute I walk in, I’m dancing.
The same way Jones’ moves forward connecting strings of beats together, I find myself and my friend Sydney driving to the Dise to catch a part of Gramatik’s set. Thinking of Gramatik and his Street Bangerz Volumes 1 & 2 (so fresh, so clean, SO GOOD), I’m annoyed. Because I’ve somehow managed to miss him both at Electric Zoo and when he came to Boston in the fall.
“I will be damned if I miss him again!” I say as we slip down Comm. Ave. and into the venue, packed to bursting once again with beats and bodies. When I say beats, I’m being very serious. Guy’s been making chill-out classics since he was 13 in Slovania … and uh, has 100,000+ tracks on Beatport.com.
“Damn, yo this is tight!”
Some kid screams to his friend as I again bury myself in the crowd in order to get the full effect of the soulful-hip-hop cocktail that is Gramatik.
It’s always reassuring to see a DJ who dances as he plays, and Gramatik breaks it down, hands grooving and fingers snapping as he mans his mixing board and laptop beside his guitarist jamming live. Meanwhile, not one, but TWO girls grab me from behind and press their hips against mine, replying with only a laugh and a far-off look in their eyes when I give them a WTF look. Then I once again forget everything and surrender to the tight snare and killer kick drum.
The scene is something of this sort:
I want to be sure to make it back to Great Scott in time for Falty DL (The MAN!), so about 15 confusing-as-all-hell texts later I’m sprinting across Comm Ave with Sydney to our car and speeding off into the night.
“Falty DL, you sly, sly dog,” I think upon re-entering Great Scott, my eyes drawn right towards the DubSpot logo: “REDEFINING MUSIC EDUCATION” the only thing glowing red in the dark room. Fitting.
Holy cowbell, Falty … you think you can just come right in here and drop three killer Boddika tracks, AND Four Tet’s recently released “Nova” which currently happens to be one of my Soundcloud favorites??!
So that’s what you’ve been hiding up that tattoo, sleeve, eh, Falty?
Well, fair enough.
We have apparently become fully submersed in the dark outer reaches of unexplored bass space … the Ninjatune Showcase. I had really high expectations for this (and brought a bunch of Vitamin Water) ever since Bonobo’s DJ set at the Dise a couple months ago (he and the likes of Amon Tobin are also on the Ninja Tune label … OH MUH GAWW). These expectations, where in fact, met, thanks to Falty and Starkey, who create two totally different atmospheres while both bend low over nobs and switches, sweat gathering like tempos and pitches.
After the aforementioned killer dance tracks of Falty DL’s set, Starkey hits us with a slowed down, deeper bass, several tracks with siren-like vocalists taking over between and atop some ill hip-hop and mainstream rap.
A Philly-based producer and co-founder of the Seclusias empire, Starkey moves before us on stage as fast as his bookings are rising lately. Like Gramatik, it’s awesome to see how into his own music he gets, jumping back from his turntables to pump his arms to the beats with us and jumping back again in a flash, his eyes just visible behind his fingers flashing from nob to nob on his mixer as he fux with da beats.
He’s feelin’ it, and when he drops Ludacris’ “Let’s Stay Together,” I think that’s his thank you for playing for the crowd at Together fest… he later told me he could feel our energy. He cranks up the line “everybody’s breaking up…” which floats slowly over a sea of waving arms, the beat hitting us hard in the hips.
And it gets me thinking, a lot of shit has been going on lately. Serious shit, like with Occupy, clashes with the police, pepper spray, people losing their jobs and their homes, taxes week … my life in general… sometimes it feels like everything around me is just falling apart.
Which is why it’s important to take a break for breaks and beats.
There’s a science to it: it’s called “madness.” Music festival madness. It’s escaping together united under one beat … you know. Oh, take it away, Starkey:
Everybody’s breaking, breaking up,
Let’s stay together
Let’s stay together
United we Stand, divided we fall.