The House That Chicago and Detroit Built
“How do you stay motivated in the midst of everything going on?” Preachy vocals ask. Young ladies nibble nervously at the paint on their fingernails while the fellas draw their BAEs toward their waists. The sea of half-naked bodies has experienced several opening DJ sets throughout the evening. Various visages appear worn but the majority of eyes stare with dilated pupils. The crowd becomes more fidgety as the voice preaches on. “How do you build your personal momentum and get in the zone?” The Eric Tomas “Rope-A-Dope” sample not only opens Disclosure’s Grammy nominated album, Settle but their live DJ set. Thirty-seconds later, the bombastic voice breaks free for a thump and a clap. “When A Fire Starts to Burn” it burns. Smart devices soar upward to record the Disclosure logo burning on five high-definition stadium monitors. A resounding cheer of approval erupts from mouths of babes. Literally these decorated kids, some who are dressed like infants, are babies. A football team logo of a blue star with a white and blue outline is etched onto the back of a ball cap that oscillates left to right. Someone standing next to me is so excited they deem it appropriate to light up. In the Dallas Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center chewing gum and lip-balm are prohibited but not marijuana?
Despite the unappealing whiff the music remains the focus.
Layers of pounding percussions make way for a marching four-on-the-floor that beckons earlier Chicago underground warehouse parties with far superior acoustics.
For a hefty music festival the acoustics sound anemic almost weightless. More bottoms, a heavier bass, and high-definition sonics would enhance the Grammy nominated “F for You” disguised beneath bubbly drums and hissing hi-hats. A more defined soundscape would thrust the body forward when the tom-toms drop allowing Howard Lawrence’s understated vocals to send a rushing shock to the heart providing a F-ing mind blowing bass drop.
Actually, the visuals are the money. At the climax on “F for You” (Remix) fireballs shoot towards the ceiling. The sight of fog hovering overhead makes jaws drop. On cue Disclosure’s outline face dances from screen to screen. Laser lights flood the stage and then paints the audience electric green. The gregarious theatrics is controlled by the event’s nucleus, a 500 square feet booth located in the center of the room.
Then a dog crawls by on all fours, some kid is dressed in a head-to-toe dog costume. There dances a grey rat, sorry but this year a dead mouse appears nowhere on the line-up. There is no shortage of tomfoolery in this world.
In the land of God, guns, and Ford trucks there is Lights All Night. The two-day indoor rave-ahem, festival-in its fifth year, features the crème de la crop of EDM giants playing in four separated spaces. The Drop. The Deep. The Turn Up. The Mothership 2.0. It is within the Mothership 2.0 where class plays hierarchy. Onstage stands the DJ rock god, below is the alter, there stands his worshippers hurdled in a massive lump, the girls who cry tears and the boys who fist-pump, the dancers and the hicks with glow sticks prance around the inner sanctuary as the very important people stare afar from their exclusive gated community-the VIP-in the outer sanctuary. All the while, security monitors the pulse of the room.
A pulse that thumps to a thud a few songs later. Around the inner sanctuary, furry boots and skinny jeans sit in clicks on the concrete floor. Perhaps the venue’s lack of intimacy is to blame? The Lawrence brother, yes a lone brother and not the awesome twosome, stands behind an entirely too huge arsenal. He appears dwarfed and too far away to woo the crowd. “Dallas are you still with me?”
His black T-shirt turns from left to right. His hands appear to punch and twist knobs. Sadly, this crowd will never know if he is playing music live or not. Disclosure is not the best of DJs. Their technical mixing can be clunky but at least you know they are not aided by computer software for beat matching. But that is on those Boiler Room videos. God only knows what happens when one is erected ten feet in the air.
A hiccup burps from the speaker. A skid-ity-clat, clat, bubbles until it bursts underneath a breathy falsetto. As vocalist Sasha Kimbal battles the voices in her head the music drops into existence and the room’s thermostat rises. Disclose-minus-the-sure turns the tide by playing vocals, a much-needed welcome to the mainly instrumental affair thus far.
To keep the people’s energy level boiling it appears this crowd needs more apeshit. Something that Disclosure is not. Disclosure is more 1990’s house than today’s cake face antics.
Disclosure’s rise-to-fame dates back to 2008 a time when the two brothers, Howard and Guy Lawrence first listened to electronic music. Feeding their veins dubstep, brostep, and electro did not make the cut. So the Surrey natives explored the rich history pages of electronic dance music. Their discovery led them to the steel and automotive factories buried beneath the rubble of Midwest America. The musical movement birthed from the original EDM fathers during the post disco era yielded fruitful results. The Lawrence brother’s sound: the house and techno that Chicago and Detroit built. A sound that remains relevant and reverent. That is why you will hear in their live DJ set.
Chi-town’s diva Dajae wailing, “Lift Me Up” on Cajmere’s “Brighter Days.” Alumni house heads appreciate the Underground Goodie Mix. EDM lovers scratch their heads. Disclosure feeds filet mignon to Happy Meal eaters.
“This is something new.” The confident voice hypes to faces covered in candy masks resembling Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat. The four-to-floor thumps at 130 BPM with chopped effects recalling juke house birthed on Chicago’s South Side. “Shake That Ass” a voice whispers that commands derrieres bounce as if quivering outdoors in the 30 degrees air.
The scent of sex lingers in the air like cheap eau de toilette. From the guy dancing in yellow short shorts to a woman’s breasts trying to escape her furry bikini. The couple swapping spit next to me. The couple dry humping in front of me. The couple swaying in one another’s arms behind me.
When the one-half of Disclosure is not paying homage to the pioneers of house and techno, he markets his song that reached number two on the United Kingdom Singles Charts. “White Noise”-the song’s accompanying music video was filmed in an abandoned warehouse in Detroit-causes SuperDanceBros to high-five one another as their bare chests slam against bare chests. One bro, wearing a glowing mask of an Inca god, tries to recruit other guys to join their mating ritual.
“If house is a nation, I want to be president.” DJ Roland Clark’s presents Urban Soul speaks on “President House.” For thirty deafening seconds the music disappears. “If house is a nation, I want to be president,” the voice repeats like a hundred times. Dancing feet halt. Mouths are silenced. Faces appear confused. What is a house nation? Tribal drums thump but these thumps sound more manufactured on the latest music software than played organically. The congas bring out the Latinas, dressed provocatively in carnival fashion wearing no more than dental floss and mile-high feathered headdresses. Mexico flags wave in the air. A Puerto Rican flag is wrapped around the male genitalia of a barely twenty-year-young lad. This party proves American born Mexicans are representing in mass numbers. The latest Spanglish generation has abandoned salsa dancing to writhe their legs over one another. A movement that continuously appeared over the past sixty minutes across the conference hall. Glossy sneakers kick front to back and twists in and out with bouts of spasms. “Security! Please, call a paramedic.” These younglings have restless leg syndrome. I’m told no paramedic is needed. “This is called the shuffle.” Dazed and confused, I reply, “Calling that a shuffle is (explicit).”
And why must the running man make a comeback?
And to think Generation X proclaims that Generation Eat. Sleep. Rave. Repeat. is only concerned with snapping selfies than actually dancing at raves. Ah, they do dance. It’s a dance by a different name.
The tribal dance comes to a grinding halt. “Dallas, sing your heart out to this next song.” “Now I’ve Got You In My Space,” neon glowing lips sing in return. Disclosure closes out the set with “Latch” their top ten hit that made them a household name.
“Do ya want one more?” He asks with his British accent sounding more evident than at anytime during the night. “Only if you want it.”
A reverb effect sounds as synthesizers sweep over a stark drum kick. Eyebrows shift upward. Eyes bulge. Bright smiles light up the room. This might be the best song he has played all night, someone thinks, if not the most recognizable song of the night, someone else thinks. A sea of hands charge the air as if playing gangsta at a rap concert. “Sorry Ms. Jackson.” “Ooh,” the crowd sings after the music fades. “Dallas can I get a…..” “Ever, Forever, Ever, the crowd sings at the appropriate time. What a becoming tribute to the ATLiens.
“I’m Guy, one-half of Disclosure. I had a blast. Thanks for coming out.” The young man announces before disappearing into black.
Why younger brother Howard was amiss remains unclear. Guy, the older Lawrence brother aired a self-confidence as to suggest he was groomed to DJ solo. Having to play music and please a crowd of hundreds can be burdensome when you are accustomed to sharing the spotlight. No small feat for a twenty-three years young fresh face with a five o’ clock shadow. The ability to conquer the small allows Disclosure to conquer mountain peaks where their counterparts trip and fall. Their ability to wholly take their craft seriously; producing music with intrinsic value, creating a critically acclaimed compilation, performing live while playing actual instruments and paying homage to the old-skool in their DJ outfit justifies means. Their will to revive house music’s golden years and repackage it to their generation is a testament. Disclosure is not freshmen playing on a varsity team: they are the team. They create the rules, the plays and they score! These two brothers just might be the saviors of house music.
Words and Visuals by AJ Dance