A VALENTINE’S DAY LOVE AFFAIR WITH KERRI CHANDLER
PART I: MIKE SERVITO
The Silent Slayer
A gentle breeze ripples the hair on heads. The night’s wind smells of salt and water. An air of pretentiousness walks by, laughter and faint dialects speaks volumes through calmness. Ahead, pulsating “uhmps, uhmps, uhmps” is the only cue pointing towards the venue’s glass door.
“People hang out here?” A Middle-Eastern accent asks from the front driver‘s seat of his UBER registered vehicle. The bearded face turns his attention back to the GPS attached to the dash cam. “This is the address.”
At the mighty front door sits a burly body with a “fuck off” silence. He points guests into the warmth. After a name check on the prepay list, the moment arrives.
There lays 6000 square feet of industrial space, dimly lit of browns and golds, as shadows pace back and forth. Making out the figures of ball cap covered heads bopping up and down at the main bar is languid. The libation station is packed with a steady stream of thirsty patrons. Liquid gold flows from flasks and the cash register rejoices with rings. After all it is Valentine’s Night and what better companion than a strong drink. Most entertaining is a rapper-esque wearing a fedora and three-stripe tracksuit, sans gold chains, cutting a couple standing hand-in-hand, in line. He embraces the bartender and orders a round. To their right, his dance crew performs a moving version of warrior 3 across the wooden floor. Observers yell “yeah” with violent fist pumps. A dance circle has formed. Already?!?
Additional pockets of writhing bodies contort around the peripheral of tribes; bearded men and blonde babes stare at a lanky lad beat matching on a performance stage. The room is immersed in a forward house number matched with a groovy melody that pulls additional arrivals towards the center sanctuary. The four-count switches moods. James Jasper’s “Sneaky” is a whacky number with scattered wobbles of bass throwing dancing feet for a loop.
Onstage stands a mid-size frame next to the DJ. The second guy hastily grabs the music controls. His demeanor appears distant, determined and focused. Who is this guy who appears hell bent for world domination?
That sho don’t look like no Kerri Chandler, but the records he plays sounds like Kerri Chandler. Was that not “Back To the Boonies” bouncing from the EAW subs? Kerri sho’ don’ slimmed down. He sho’ got a head of full of velvet black hair. Dang, Kerri got slanted eyes, now??? A closer inspection reveals the guy standing on stage, pulling vinyl from sleeves, wears a black jacket, black tee, and black trousers.
Future Internet research¹ reveals, the smartly dressed DJ is Mike Servito. The silent slayer is widely known at his current residency at Brooklyn’s Bunker Parties and for his guest spots at Honeysuckle San Francisco. A native Detroiter, the streets of the Motor City is where he first listened to “Planet Rock” before Michael Jackson. Growing up, Mike Huckaby’s and Derrick Carter’s genre blending techniques influenced the impressionable youth to play vinyl and mix music. Through the years, at times, the on-and-off DJ has laid down his turntables and vinyl for other pursuits. You might turn the heart away from the music but you cannot take the music out of the heart, best describes Servito’s return to his love, playing music. In today’s EDM driven force, Servito is a rarity, he feels at home playing other artist’s cuts than producing his own works and he knows his music, he adjusts the music to whom he opens for, be it techno, house or acid. He is a quintessence of diversity.
Tonight, the music time travels back to the Midwest, Lil Louis’ “Club Lonely,” to the East Coast, Ceybil’s ”Love So Special.” Sevito has done his homework, and he is surely stealing some of Kerri’s heat. The all vinyl vintage sound showcases some of the best digs of soulful house paired with vocals this side of the Bay.
San Francisco swings, albeit not always to a soulful house sermon. Unless you follow the flock of Father Farina, Saint Miguel or Deacon Harness. Even then the soul speaks a funky singsong with a west coast jump. However, a glance around the premises reveals Generation “I” feels more at home with soulful sounds than one expected. They have been trained, very, very well. Two hours into the event, no one stands and shoots the shit, thumb-pecks texts, or spew cancerous venom into nostrils while standing on the dance floor.
Several feet up in the air, on a platform, there stands a technician working the sound. Down below, onstage, for the past twenty minutes or so, another sound technician shuffles around the DJ and his record crates and edges in front of the shiny hardware parked at the drop of the stage. His hands cautiously plugs and unplugs wires into the receivers of 1200s and 2000s. “Ka, Ka, Boom!” A soul-stirring bass line on St. Etienne’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” shatters the sound barrier. The Masters At Work Dub ignites cheers and approvals from the ever-growing crowd. The technician’s keen eye stares across the boards, the sound is ripe and ready for….
As You Like It Presents: KERRI CHANDLER bounces across four 9×12’ screens configured as one giant monitor. Onstage appears a familiar wide smile underneath a black skully. Servito poses for a selfie with the party’s headliner. The legendary DJ applauds. Indeed, Mike has done his job all too well. Just how the people can muster enough energy to endure the future chaos remains a mystery.
¹Rothlein, J. (2014, June 2). Mike Servito: The Late Shift. Retrieved February 5, 2015, from http://www.residentadvisor.net/feature.aspx?2032
Words by aj dance