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!