Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta Georgia’

FRANÇOIS K 28.01.17

January 30, 2017

FRANÇOIS K

Staying Woke

“Everybody it’s January 28, 2017.”

“Yayyyyy!” A sea of voices yells.

“If you think I’m going to play music that puts you to sleep. I’m not! There is some $hit that is happening out THERE and I want you to WAKE UP!!!,” shouts an accented baritone, drowned by more “whewwwws” and “yaaayyyys.” His voice shakes with concern and rightfully so. His stare fixated on the audience as his finger reaches down and presses play. On cue, knocking percussions beats underneath a Lowrey organ’s chords as Timmy Thomas croons, “Why Can’t We Live Together?”

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Down the stairs and around the corner, shoulders brush against arms that wave for strangers to follow as feet try to tread open space to dance. Absent are cropped circles with impressive head spinners making statements. There are more bodies standing upright than slant in movements. A sea of porcelain visages stare, engaged at a performance stage. Witnessing the energy emanating from one man. A legend in action already imprints the dance floor.

I Want To See, reads his black tee. His hulky frame stands huddled between a laptop and Pure Groove monitors. His hands swing on deck. As his thumb and index finger tweaks channels across metallic machines the music steadily intensifies to an erupting crescendo of sonic explosions.  Gershon Jackson’s “Take It Easy,”  The Mike Dunn Blackball Ezee Mix delivers bass drops to the balls before transitioning into the pitter-patter of African drums that elevates Mr. Finger’s “Can You Feel It.” Where most DJs create drama to create audience hype this DJ needs neither. His “processing techniques” created live is how he works the music; he mutes the groove; he filters arrangements; he compresses the drums; after all he is a master crafter of the music he plays. He may not be the hottest viral sensation but digging though the crates of popular music, you will be hard pressed not to find his name credited as a producer, remixer, or drummer.

François Kervorkian’s discography is much revered among music aficionados and well respected among club heads. His big break arrived in the late 1970’s with a dub of D-Train’s “Keep On,” his 80’s repertoire spans productions for rock seminal Depache Mode to U2, to his leap back as a forerunning DJ playing electronic sounds in the 1990’s. Tonight, there is one aspect that speaks loudest in his biography. Having recently celebrated 40 years of living in this so-called United States of America. Monsieur Kevorkian is an immigrant.

Which only further amplifies why playing Timmy Thomas, “Why Can’t We Live Together” matters. The music goes silent. “Say What/Say What/Say What/I Woke Up From This Dream” a voice spits over 80 BPM of psychedelic funk. Laurent Garneir’s “First Reaction (V2)” asks, “What’s On Your Mind?” Immigration Reform? A Refugee Ban? A wall? The spoken word of drummer Sangoma Everett pulls minds into deep thought. After all, music should challenge.

And challenging music is at the heart of the native French DJ. While some naysay Bruno Mars’ music playing at an underground party, “24K Magic” sparkles brilliantly into Francois’ open-mindedness. Tributes abound too. Studio 54 represents with Herb Albert’s “Rotation” and Odyssey’s “Inside Out” to posthumous icons Prince, “Wanna Be Your Lover (Live Version),” and Wham “Everything She Wants.” One finds introspection in listening to Lolita Holloway’s a cappella of “Hit and Run” before Eddie Amour proclaims “Not Everyone Understands House Music.” An organ fueled dub of the Jungle Brother’s classic “I’ll House You” packs the fun while the self-awakening poetry of Mutabaruka’s “Dis Poem”- particularly the line “The Ku Klux Klan riots in Brixton Atlanta”-energizes the room.      

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Bodies are still glued to one another with sweat as neon music notes dance across the wall atop the bar as hints of nicotine straddles the air. Social media posts read, “I was turned away at the front door.” Earlier in the night there was even a line that snaked down the street to the venue’s front door. For everyone who entered received a seat at the table. Their pallets feasted on treasures-Chicago house, Detroit techno, NYC deep, London electro and Soweto’s Afro. The feast was succulent. The music dynamic. This musical exchange was not for the exclusive elite, but inclusive for all to experience. Music itself is the language of freedom that François K beckons to wake up people. In these polarizing times, where weekly worldwide protests are the new black, it is important to stay woke. If we sleep, our right to assemble, dance, and play music might banish.

GORGON CITY 06.11.15

November 12, 2015

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After the music comes to an abrupt stop, the sound of metal grinding its teeth on meth explodes into the air. As if nails were scratching a chalkboard, the drums scowl with a nasty drawl. This is grime music, the choice sound of U.K.’s underground edge. Seconds later the grime thrusts straight, four-counts that is, into the arms of acid. All the while, the sight of purple and pink lasers pushes toward the ceiling and pulls to the floor again in erratic shifts. The performance stage’s dynamics border haywire. In the audience an army of fists arises. Voices cheer. Welcome to…

GORGON CITY

Thoughts of Gorgon City swallowing you whole would seem most appropriate. Given so, Gorgon’s Greek root gorgós translates: dreadful. Recall in Greek mythology, the three monster sisters? Stheno, Euryale and the stone-turning Medusa were Gorgons. Monsters! Terror! And dread! Oh my. You will be hard pressed to find any hint of hideous in Gorgon City. The only Gorgon in sight is a printed Medusa silhouette head on T-shirts selling for $20.

In the bowels of the Masquerade where Hell and Purgatory are playmates, the heart of Gorgon City beats upstairs. In Heaven! Yes, Heaven. Heaven is 10,000 square feet of conspicuous space guarded by exposed walls. Heaven bares a stage-a massive stage. Where metal beams protrude vertically into the air, like exaggerated frames of future skyscrapers, which are connected to more beams that run horizontally across the stage like railroad tracks. Four-way resembling traffic lights perform stop and go commands on the edges of the platform. Where three light traffic signals are not enough and four lights are a must, Gorgon City is a fortified fortress.

A fortress partitioned by a gate where Gorgon City’s denizens are separated from the elevated action. Their stares gaze upward, eagerly awaiting the sight of their alderman. The creative counsel responsible for unbridled screams.

“ATLANTAAAA!!! Are. You. READY?” A voice calls from the stage. Lights out! The room goes black. Bodies are heard moving about in the shadows. For one mili-minute voices fall silent….until. Lights flash like a bolt of lightening. A game of green turned white fluorescents floods the stage to the back of the room. A spectacular LED show blinds retinas. “BOOOMMM!!!” A crackling explosion drops from speaker cabinets. The sound of bass jolts the heart. The pitter-patter of live drums crescendo as an approaching freight train.

A shield of dense vapor breaks away, revealing two youthful faces; one bearded the other with a light goatee. Their hands glide and pluck at controls, steering their sonic youth in forward directions. They stare at each other from their DJ techno pods that are separated by an actual acoustic drum kit played by a live drummer. Imagine music played live, merged electronically with ‘Live and Push.’ This is the future of house music realized in the 21st century.

Kye “Foamo” Gibbon and Mat “RackNRuin” Robson-Scott provides more than Gorgon City’s soundtrack, the duo is Gorgon City. Both are British, raised in North London, and never gave much inkling to music or music careers as lads. Whilst teenagers their music tastes were more diverse than their traditional rearing: Kye in hip-hop and Mat in punk. Their mutual attraction to jungle, AKA drum-n-bass led them to pursue DJ stints as monikers “Foamo” and “RackNRuin.” Separately signing with the same DJ agency, unbeknownst at the time, paid off when one night, the two met at a club and purposed to record together. After success, the two now named Gorgon City signed with the powerhouse Black Butter Records that fronted them vocalists such as Tanzania born and South Shields resident LuLu James.

Onstage appears her hourglass figure. Her elongated fingers clasp a microphone. The mocha-skinned beauty sashays as her long mane brushes against her back. The solid black multi-pattern white print dress she wears is wrapped around her frame so tight that she might have to be scissor out of it by nights end. She lowers her legs until she sits atop her wedge heels. With her back straight she sings, “We Used To Be Real.”

The purists could argue so. Where Gorgon City’s earlier work paid tribute to Athena and Thor as underground themes, it was their vocal number “Real” that danced onto the UK Singles Chart. The duos tasting of commercial success dictated 2014’s “Sirens” be all pop house. A trend currently followed by several British duo DJs, the most successful to date, two brothers hailing from Reigate, Surrey, England.

DISCLOSURE*

A month earlier, on a balmy early October night, Disclosure stepped onstage at Atlanta, Georgia’s historic Tabernacle. Guy and Howard took to their swiveling techno pods. Their smiles promised the greatest. What could ever go wrong? This stop marked the fourteenth date on their “Caracal” U.S. tour.  “Superego” jump-started their set. “Omen” erupted in flames. “F for You” proved well with Howard’s chops where “Jaded” felt remote. After several bubbling numbers, the pop fizzled. “Willing and Able” stalled. “Nocturnal” failed to impress, even as the lads were air lifted and played electric guitars. “I heard their first album is better than the second album.” A blue-eye with blond highlights spectator whispered. Perhaps so, as “Bang That” and “When A Fire Starts To Burn” thrust the performance into hyper rave. With the stage lit, actual pyrotechnics exploded against erratic laser beams. A thunderous applause erupted as gigantic monitors played an animated Gregory Porter lipping “Holding On.” “Caracal” the concert exceled the moment Lionbabe’s Jillian Harvey strutted onstage and sung “Hourglass.” Her birdwalk and high kicks stole the show. American born Brendan Reilly appeared and sung the hell out of, “Moving Mountains” and brought the chuuuuh to the Tabernacle. Side note, Google him. All before the two Lawrence brothers disappeared into the black and reemerged with “Latch” the show closer.

“Atlanta this is so far the best show.” Bragged Guy-the younger of the two brothers. Honestly this was far from their best show played in Atlanta. The Disclosure concert lacked star power. Real star power. Not to say, the band-of-brothers are not on the road to stardom, or stars themselves. But when your music plays the soundtrack to the stars, then the stars had better show and perform live. *

“If I Had A Dime and Dollar, For Every Motherf…..”raps a gravely voice. As vocalist Josh Barry steps out, he spews a few bars from “6AM.” The former Britain’s Got Talent contestant takes his place alongside LuLu James. The two make the perfect pairing; her bangs, his dreads, both dressed in complimenting black and white, as they sing “We Were Meant To Stand Out From The Crowd” into each other’s eyes on “Elevate.” On the smash-up of Peven Everett’s “Gabriel,” interwoven with Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right but It’s Okay” the two come off sincere and genuine.

Don’t get it twisted like the serpents twisting on Medusa’s heads. Gorgon City is vocal house as much as Gorgon City is one entire dance party. Where the people actually dance in Gorgon City is on the outer banks of the standing crowd where a young man slams his body to every count on Omni Trio’s “Renegade Snares.” This is Mat “RackNRuin’s” roots-his best attempt that challenges the audience to dance on double counts.

Crowd pleasers continue. “Ready For Your Love”-Gorgon City’s highest UK chart-topper to date-whips bodies into motion, one twenty-something wearing a man bun mouths every lyric to “Imagination” and a alumni raver sings “Here For You,” her left arm flinging in the air as her torso shifts left to right, her face reads, “F-U-C-K off, I’m diva extraordinaire.

The diva driven powerhouse vocals on “Go All Night,” the most apropos song for a party that could have went all night, closes the party. As the sound of single stroke drumming builds into a frantic frenzy, synthesizers play sharp chords for a true rock star ending. Gorgon City closes with a bang! In a world of British dance music competitors, one winner is crowned.  Where Disclosure has attained rock star status, Gorgon City performs like rock stars.

*Contains excerpts from Disclosure 05.10.15 review on ajdancelegacy.com words by aj dance.

words: aj dance

DISCLOSURE Live 05.10

October 6, 2015

Long before The Beatles stepped foot onto American soil, the British Invasion had long occurred. Look no further than the indigenous peoples. Britain’s hunger for world dominance, a British World Order is no covert. Evidence today: James Bond, David Beckham, Adele. Even so, America’s house music community was not immune to a leveraged buyout. The Brits accepted early Chicago imports that served as blueprints for their very own commercializing of house and acid in the late 80’s. Their brand of copy & conquer continued well into the latest century. Today, a slew of fresh-faced blokes are discovered, dissected, and signed to major recording labels at fiber-optic speeds. From social media to Shoreditch no cobblestone is left untouched. At the forefront of acquisition stars Disclosure: the regal face of millennial dance. With a polished PR script that reads: two brothers hailing from Regail, Surrey, musically educated, plays instruments, acquired MySpace stardom, signed with an indie-label, and remixed a songstress that charted in music magazines, online, and commercially, after all, is what the machine is made of. Perhaps more settling, on June 3, 2013, their full-length release “Settle” and earlier released single “Latch”(ed) Disclosure as dance music’s emperors, except in the land that birthed their sound. In America the saying goes without saying, you only make it once you land on the American charts, a landing Disclosure accomplished fifty years after the more proper titled British “Music” Invasion should have been coined.  

On a balmy early October night, Disclosure stepped onstage at Atlanta, Georgia’s historic Tabernacle. Guy and Howard took to their swiveling techno pods. Their smiles promised the greatest. What could ever go wrong? This stop marked the fourteenth date on their “Caracal” U.S. tour.  “Superego” jump-started their set. “Omen” erupted in flames. “F for You” proved well with Howard’s chops where “Jaded” felt remote. After several bubbling numbers, the pop fizzled. “Willing and Able” stalled. “Nocturnal” failed to impress, even as the lads were air lifted and played electric guitars. “I heard their first album is better than the second album.” A blue-eye with blond highlights spectator whispered. Perhaps so, as “Bang That” and “When A Fire Starts To Burn” thrust the performance into hyper rave. With the stage lit, actual pyrotechnics exploded against erratic laser beams. A thunderous applause erupted as gigantic monitors played an animated Gregory Porter lipping “Holding On.” “Caracal” the concert exceled the moment Lionbabe’s Jillian Harvey strutted onstage and sung “Hourglass.” Her bird walk and high kicks stole the show. American born Brendan Reilly appeared and sung the hell out of, “Moving Mountains” and brought the chuuuuh to the Tabernacle.   Side note, Google him. All before the two Lawrence brothers disappeared into the black and reemerged with “Latch” the show closer.

“Atlanta this is so far the best show.” Bragged Guy-the younger brother. Honestly this was far from their best show played in Atlanta. The Disclosure concert lacked star power. Real star power. Not to say, the band-of-brothers are not on the road to stardom, or stars themselves. But when your music plays the soundtrack to the stars, then the stars had better show and perform live.

words: aj dance

visuals: aj dance

HOUSE IN THE PARK 11 06.09.15

September 8, 2015

HITP11

“HONK.” As sedans, pickups and 4X4’s slow to a crawl on I-20 eastbound at the ramp of Boulevard, the traffic on the World Wide Web stalls. Thankfully, no vehicles or servers, for that matter, crash. Finally!-And no not the CeCe Peniston classic-House In The Park Sunday arrives!

At a park, named after a U.S. president, on Confederate Avenue, thousands of feet stampede the green space. The festivity is less conservancy, more 4G. Posts and photos clog social media newsfeeds. Thirty-second videos go viral. Hit after hit. Likes accumulate. Tweets chirp. Memes abound. A song list is even cataloged on a blog. HITP 11 trends.

“After all house music is the black person’s alternative.” Replies the voice-activated “AI” when asked, “Is HITP the real Afropunk?” Uploads of Afro’s, locs, beads, and faux hawks be natural or extensions, crown heads of dancing kings and dancing queens, and their dancing princes and dancing princesses. Selfies of Tees, tunics, cowls and body paint are fit for fashion spreads. Just #blackfashionmatters.    

Dress and tags are only smaller numerators in HITP’s larger algorithm. There are four constant variables that play the most important part when coding the event’s success.

The Four Fathers. Salah Ananse, DJ Kemit, Kai Alce, and founding father Ramon Rawsoul stand tall and proud. Acetate. Polycarbonate. Gigabyte: Are their mouthpieces. Their voices eschewed from shiny hardware, transmitted by stereo surround-sound. Each bringing their distinct flavor, Salah: boutique house, Kemit: disco, Ramon: ancestral and Kai: every sound in between, makes PPL <3 HITP. 

Sunrays kiss smiley faces. Red, green, gold, and black jewels sparkle against the stark bulb in the sky. iClouds fly across the azure. The temperature feels not too hot, not too humid, and never too cold but just the right amount of cool. A fit-watch pixels display 85 degrees.

The balmy temperature is a shock, but not the music. As one girl whips and nae naes to a remix of Justin Timberlake singing “Holy Grail.” Everyone agrees House in The Park is the “Holy Grail.”

The Holy Grail that started ten years ago as an intimate gathering of friends, has massed into more than one large family picnic, but a technological boom. Far more than food trucks, the aroma of grilled meats, vendors, pavilions and tent city, there is no denying HITP’s digital footprint that stomps the digital world. Perhaps, next year, the drone that flies overhead will be used to film a virtual-reality live stream. In real-time, to all businesses, corporations and advertisers, HITP is where the money is.

words: aj dance

visual: toasted ink

THEO PARRISH/ALTON MILLER/KAI ALCE 04.09.15

September 6, 2015

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THEO DA GREAT

KAI ALCE

“Yo! What up?”

“Deez Nuts 4 president!”

“C’mere.”

“Give me a huuugggg.”

Pearly white smiles sparkled underneath the halogens of streetlights. The heart leaped with joy during each warm embrace. Like hugging long lost relatives at a family reunion during Labor Day Weekend. Instead of ribs and slaw, long white tees, halters and pumps were the fixin’s.   A show of who’s who was in “lookatme” mode. Selfie time!!! Of course with friends. Conversations quickly turned to; weight loss, air flight trips and future hookups. The annual Atlanta Weekender festivities had already commenced outside, along Edgewood Boulevard, in front of addresses 485 and 483, respectively. The magic suspended in the air, straddled beneath the Waning Gibbous.

Following the pulsating “umpsh, umpsh, umpsh,” into the brick and mortar revealed no disco ball, or cat-n-mouse laser display that distinguished the obscurity. If not for the bar lit in the soft hue of carrot the room would be aphotic. Ahead, at the DJ booth the guiding light was found. The sonics eschewed from two JBLs. There he stood, the man partitioned from his gatherers.

The buzzcut he wore might have been new, but Kai Alce needed no introduction.  NYC born, Detroit raised, ATL transplant-an acronym for his N.D.ATL Muzik imprint-served as cultural virtues that crowned him “Atlanta’s Maverick of Distinctive House Music.” Although the DJ/producer/label owner resents titles and is laconic, he clearly spoke through the music. You “Can’t Hold It Back,” he suggested with a slight grin when playing the Jovonn titled track. The now-anthem ignited flames on the floor.   Blink and miss the horde of Distinctive-ites who canned-sausage the space in front of the DJ booth; hands on the floor, derrieres in the air, their feet swiveled in circles. That was the power of the four-count, a heavy bass line, and a repeated refrain.  

There she danced in the corner. Her dress sparkled as metallic blues shimmied against the speaker cabinet. Her beauty mirrored the portrait of the 1970’s Blaxploitation heroine projected onto the back wall of the room.   As her silhouette weaved in and out of shadows, she mouthed “Dance Like You’ve Been Here.” The DJ Beloved Remix of Miranda Nicole’s N.D.ATL Muzik’s recording debut played like a beacon to a siren’s prey.

The music skipped counts on UBQ Project’s “We Can Make It.” Visages appeared stunned?!? Folks, this was an all vinyl affair. Heedlessly, hunched against the wall and consuming prime real estate was a young man who pecked on not one but two smartphones. Stationed on the DJ wall, a drinking glass slid off and shattered jagged debris across the baby-powdered floor. Dancing up front, and center the DJ booth became unbearable. So dance space was traded back room for near the venue’s front door. Where the temperature felt cooler, the air breathable, and the cement floor fit to slide across.

At some point in time, when professional photographers dipped in and out of space-pockets trying to capture the perfect snapshot of a dancer doing a burpee in harem pants: time, place and space framed an apex. The music abstract yet concrete. The conductor inseparable from the conduit.  The curator indistinguishable from the virtuoso.   A casual encounter turned fanatical dance.

THEO PARRISH

 

You can take Theo Parrish out of Chicago but taking Chicago out of Theo Parrish presents an entirely difficult challenge. Born in the nation’s capital, bred in the Windy City, the DJ/producer was influenced by Chi-town’s first and second generation house music provocateurs. His first DJ gig and production work came early, age thirteen. Thereafter, the young musicologist would study in Kansas City where he received a degree in Sound Sculpture before calling the Motor City his home since the mid 1990’s.

Chicago played theme on the Sound Signature C.E.O.’s opening selections. Peven Everett cooed “How Bad I Want Ya,” a sentiment Theo posed to the crowd before slaying the dancers with Steve Poindexter’s genius “Computer Madness.”

Say Parrish, and the name resounds around the world, synonymously with techno/house. Theo’s music is badass: never mollified for the masses yet ballsy enough to challenge the bullocks of the underground. His left field verbose is taste acquired. The palette of his international worshippers: his native land not so much. Those who understood Parrish’s quiddity were those left dancing: those who failed translation made there way outdoors for a smoke or next door.  

ALTON MILLER

Inside the restaurant guised dance space the music played Afro, deep, and slower at 124 beats per minute. At DJ Kemit’s Soul Makossa party, bodies gyrated and writhed from the DJ Booth to dining stations in the back of the rectangular space. Yet, there was ample space to join in the spirit of dance.  A far cry from earlier when people stood in line to get in the door. Percussions elevated Elements of Life “Children of the World.” The beat crawled to 120 BPM on Hiatus Kaiyote’s “Breathing Underwater“(DJ Spinna Galactic Soul Remix). The thumps packed punch on Steve Silk Hurley featuring Sharon Pass’ “The Word Is Love” (Silk’s Anthem 7 inch Mix). The classic pulled the salt and pepper hairs onto the floor as the music danced down memory lane with vintage Col. Abrams’, “I’m Not Gonna Let.”

“YEAAAHHH!” The moms and pops yelled to the Shuffle It Up Mix. DJ/producer Alton Miller spoke to the age forty and over, Detroit style. “I’m so going back to check out Theo next door.” Said a thirty years young Jersey resident.

THEO PARRISH

The snare hissed. The beating of congas beat faintly in the distance. The strings of an acoustic guitar plucked ever-so-gently across a romping bass line that straddled over four counts, then dropped as the rhythm crescendo into a melodious movement that guided dancing sneakers across the craters on the floor.

“THEO!” A high-pitched voice yelled. Arms besieged over the booth’s wall. Then the house lights shined brightly. Pupils were enlarged. A motley of colored visages that once danced in shadows was now exposed. No one cared. The people danced on. The music played on.

A bearded guy dressed in all black appeared next to Theo and gave him the cutthroat. Another security chief, this one with his facial gestures buried beneath a ball cap, bolted to the DJ booth and told the maestro to “stop.”

“I can’t.” Theo lipped back. “The record ain’t finished playin’.”

The crowd “booed” the burly guards: they “yayed” the DJ. Complying with security’s demand, the music stopped. As security walked away, the sneaky Theo pressed play. A four-count thumped. Security turned around and told him to cut the music. For a second time the music was hushed.

“Look. He mad (sic).”

With his back towards the dancers, Theo cursed underneath his breath. His hairy arms swung out, half-heartedly, to the sides in anger. The “I Want to Go See” type on his tee said it best. Theo was going to see, something, somewhere. Sadly it was out the venue’s front door.

The second night of the Atlanta Weekender closed with less of a bang and more of a swift-kick in the arse. If Atlanta is grown enough to host its own version of a holiday Weekender then Atlanta needs to step it up with a 4 am or later bar closing time. Atlanta, the time is nigh. Please, quit stopping the music.

words by aj dance

visual by aj art

WHY THE SASHA SHOW MATTERS 08.05

May 10, 2015

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Perspiration soaks the under arms. Already the feel of cotton sticks to the skin. The weather is much too humid for the first week in the fifth month of the year.

A body plunges to the pavement. “Dude, I’m soooo drunk,” a post-pubescent voice yells across the dark parking lot. Standing in a line of ten folks deep, behind a gang of Koreans speaking in their native tongue, the smell of burnt ash thickens the air. Their cigar smoking proves all too nauseating. Even the door guy reading identification brushes his hand across his nose.

Inside the foyer stands two men; burly, goateed, and bald scanning e-Tickets. Voices shout in the distance, “Sounds like they’re playing bingo,” over there in the room to the right. “Naw bro, it’s a drag show.”  

The beating of deep ambient thumps that surface from around a corner peeks the interest of the bros more than the “Bye Felicia” contest. Their intuitions prove correct as a left turn into the main room reveals why this party matters.  

If the party promoters are willing to work with venues, owners, or managers outside of their comfort zone, then the party matters.

Twenty years earlier, a movement started when twenty-somethings; Kazel, Damien and Delvyn then called Liquid Groove, threw its first soiree at a warehouse called Chambers in the city’s red-light district. A name change later, now Liquified, the promoters returned to the original warehouse, also with a name change, where it all began.

Where you throw your party matters.

Club Jungle throbs as yesteryear’s PLURs wearing 36” flairs glide across the massive 10,000 square-feet space, queens sashay on wooden tiles, as Kardashian imposters tip their noses in the air at shirtless bartenders.

If your sound system was designed by a former NASA employee then your party matters.

Two SH96HO + TH118* are enclosed in sleek black cabinets. The 18” subwoofer packs a four-way power punch to the balls. The intelligent Pure Groove Sound System* screams quality over quantity. The acoustics alone is worth all two thousand and five hundred pennies paid for entry. One spectator stares into the woofers and the force of the sound waves slowly pulls his slender frame into its hold. “That shit’s loud.” Someone complains. “Yeah, we’re way too old.”

A headlining electronic god makes the party matter.

The stage is decorated in a crystalloid hallucination. Blue skies and green lasers splash across the faces of gridded triangles. In view through the polyhedron window stands the most oft voted “World’s Best DJ.” A thunderous applause ignites as he winks. Only a rock god commands such emphasis.

Tonight Aleksander-AKA Sasha-Paul Cole is the rock god, ahem, electronic god-defender of glow stick spinners, lazily dressed bros wearing ball caps and cargos, 40 year-olds backpackers, and a mother who inhaled to squeeze in a bikini tube. Most impressive, shoved shoulder-to-shoulder are the pink furry boot minions-Buford Street’s baby ravers who admire his royal Welshness. Many of who were not spermatozoa when their parents probably tweaked at a Sasha rave in the late 80’s. The ability to draw a mother and daughter raving under the same roof is well, frightening.

At the stroke of midnight, the GRAMMY nominated “Watching Cars Go By” remixer launches into a battlefield of fist-pumping rush; dizzying build-ups and shattering bass drops. The “If You Believe” producer is not the pinup for playing straight house music but he later dabbles in the deep that makes the party even more digestible. Critics will always parley over Sasha’s playlists but the event’s motive lies not in the music’s context as the party’s subtext.

Twenty years in the game and still relevant makes your party matter.

This party-cum-music festive is a homecoming sentiment. Weeks earlier, reminiscence spread across social media from those who stumbled out of Chambers the next day, at noon, after Sasha first played Liquid Groove’s Atlanta debut in the mid-90’s. Over the years and many times over, Liquified has personified and willed its muscle at defining ATL’s nightlife. Given the city’s saturated underground music scene, Liquified performed a rarity these days, pulling off a party that actually matters.

Congratulations to Liquified 20 year anniversary.

words:  aj dance

(above) visual: aj art

sashasquare

*Pure Groove Sound System

CELEBRATE-Atlanta’s Premier Party 14.06.14

June 15, 2014

CELEBRATE THE DAY

DJ 1derful, AKA Joseph King, and his crew; DJ BE, Deigratia and Allison Pickens charges the city’s saturated soulful house music market with an alternative guise-a Saturday day party. His day parties are unique in that no two parties are the same. Be the celebration’s exhaustive list of local guest DJs to its unique grounds. The Atlanta premier party’s home is located at the city’s oldest department store cornered at the cross section of Edgewood and Boulevard. The brick and mortar contains two distinct floors, a bar and DJ space downstairs in the Department Store and a bar with a live band stage upstairs in Erosol. Erosol the Department Store’s old charm antique has been replaced with contemporary furnishings; refurbished wooden floors, pastel color painted walls and black and white visuals that hang on exposed walls. A professional soundboard sits in the room’s rear where a DJ scurries to adjust the highs, mids and lows. No disco ball hangs over the floor only breast-shaped lanterns. For other eye-popping views look out the large window to catch a bustling Old Fourth Ward bask in her majestic glory.

Downstairs libations are poured and gossip is overheard. The bar is packed with handshakes, hugs and smiles. On a leather couch a dad, mom and child pose for a family portrait. The air feels light, the conversations are relaxed that adds personality to the ground floor’s character. Upstairs, the early bird’s, twenty or more individuals, are scattered throughout the room. Voices are stuck in conversation and eyes are glued to mobile screens. One couple provides all the dance floor excitement. Their feet shuffling as their arms create ripples in the air.

Within the hour, green wrist bands fill the room. The graying of hairs and withering hairlines are on full display. A quick glance at faces pits pearly whites against fine wrinkles. The majority of the patrons present are approaching their mid-century mark. Blame it not on the boogie but the daylight hours that provide a high-definition lens of shocking features given to shrink in dark rooms at night.

Michael Jackson’s “You Can’t Win” causes aged feet to dance. The sounds of Chicago native DJ Tony Jakks, stay firmly Blue Lights in the Basement until the crowd chants “Hey Hey,” Dennis Ferrer’s yesteryear anthem.

A band of salt and pepper hair, cropped to a swoosh, appears on stage. DJ Deb stands hunched over and sprawled over the decks. She steadies are index finger that hovers over a red light for a few seconds. On the eighth count she releases her finger to press the button that plays the next track. Where DJ Roland Clark aspires to be “President House,” a Martha Wash a cappella makes mouths sing “I Don’t Know Anybody Else,” while Kenny Bobien’s “I Shall Not Be Moved” takes Celebrate to church. The music  is all four-to-the-floor hardcore with a dash of old skool/vocal house and deep house thumps. The Jamaican born DJ one-hour set sets the room ablaze. The baby powder falls to the floor.  The people dance.  The people sweat.  

“Who is the first person to show proof that you are here at the party on a social networking site?” The brainchild of Celebrate-Atlanta’s Premier Party, DJ 1derful asks over the microphone. He sounds like a loveable teddy bear ready for a big hug. He grins with ease as if throwing parties is a summer breeze.

Several months earlier, Joseph and his crew were riding their wave of a moderately successful monthly night soiree at an East Atlanta Village eatery. One Friday night, Joseph and his team loyal arrived at the venue to set up for their gig only to find the establishment’s doors locked without prior warning of the venue’s closure. When one door closes, a new door opens. During a business trip to Texas, Joseph discovered a gem in Houston’s party market. Hmmm, a light bulb moment occurred. A few months later DJ 1derful would test his revelation at the “brick building on the corner,” thanks to the advice of his friend Deigratia. At 2 pm on a February afternoon, Erosol the Department Store opened its stores for its grand debut- Celebrate-the premier Saturday party of its kind.

“Meeee!” A woman with cropped hair screams. The all-too-happy-woman dressed in all white runs up to the DJ stage. She shoves her mobile device in front of DJ 1derful’s blinding smile.

“Congratulations! We have a winner.” It is this winning spirit where Celebrate excels above the average run-of-the-mill carousing. Rather or not one wins a raffle prize; of a local music grab bag or a mega-chain retail gift card, everyone who attends Celebrate feels like a winner. One house music enthusiast eloquently explains her winning formula, “I can party during the day, go home, eat dinner and go to bed at a reasonable time.”

Words by aj dance/Visuals by aj dance

THE TOP 10 REASONS WHY MAURICE JOSHUA IS MY DANCE MUSIC HERO!

June 1, 2014

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THE TOP 10 REASONS WHY MAURICE JOSHUA IS MY DANCE MUSIC HERO!

10.  He was born and raised in the birthplace of house music-Chicago.

9.  His remixes are built from the ground-up,contains live instruments and re-cut vocals.  

8.  He has remixed pop/R&B/gospel royalties from Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Chris Brown to Yolanda Adams.

7.  He made Britney Spears sound soulful.

6.  He has remixed most of Destiny’s Child’s entire catalog.

5.  Beyonce is to Maurice Joshua as Mariah Carey is to David Morales.

4.  Listen to Mary Mary’s “Shackles (Praise You)” (Maurice’s Carnival 2000 Mix).

3.  He is just a life-loving fun guy to be around.

2. He crafted the classic “This Is Acid.”

1.  He won a 2004 GRAMMY award for his remix of Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love.”

Words by AJ Dance/Visual by Michelle Dawes Birt for Real Chicks Rock

LOUIE VEGA & ANANE 15.02.14 Part I

February 26, 2014

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LOUIE VEGA & ANANE

Part 1

Black Curtain

There hang long black drapes in one corner of the room, next to the DJ stage and behind the global bazaar. 

A steady stream of bodies treks from out the curtain.

Gofers fetch drinks from the bar before they disappear back into the curtain.

A group of hourglass curves exit the curtain with glowing smiles.

Those left on the outside watch curiously.                                           

Something goes on behind those large black drapes.

You can feel the energy.

Is this some makeshift private VIP, roped off from the common soul?

Or a moon ritual?

 

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Louie Vega

Always, Louie Vega brings the unadulterated soulful house music sound that capsizes at 126 beats per minute.  Foot heavy four-on-the floors slap the faces of dancers.  His sound is not for the faint.  Or for the soft of feet that prance on the tips of toes as ballerinas.  These days, ears have to be conditioned to tolerate stuttered 808’s as hamstrings have to be fully stretched to endure the wear and tear that shall soon follow.   In all, this is Louie’s tribute to his old school roots, when late 80’s house and early 90’s house ruled.  His momentum takes you back to the Devil’s Nest in the Bronx.  A time when vocal house pit the Jacksons against First Choice.  Anyone for Lynn Lockamy?  Inaya Day?  Duane Harden?  To fully understand Louie is to fully understand the sum of his parts.  Vega Records.  Roots remixes.  EOL essentials.  Fania T-shirts?  Louie is not shy to spotlight his ethos.  Louie Vega revolves around Louie’s world. He is a heavyweight in the industry, a revered leader among his peers.  When Louie speaks, people actually jot notes.    People just don’t happen to dance to Louie Vega in the mix.  They are subconsciously pulled into his black hole.  Rather or not education on the dance floor is your dogma.  You will be schooled.       

23:00

Aww, look, the darling couple sits on stage.  His body is pinned against hers.  Their body language speaks love.  She pulls out her smartphone encased in candy apple red.  “Click.”  The selfie captures two loving souls.   That’s cute.  However, the crowd is ready to experience what they dropped Gs for. 

Like a swan’s tears dropping into tranquil waters, Japanese violinist, Chieko Kinbara’s dramatics bleeds all over Josh Milan’s heartfelt “Just Like Love.”  The Timmy Regisford and Adam Rios tropical beat builds to a muddled rise.  The train is running off the tracks.  Can anyone help?  To the rescue he comes.  Where?  To the right of the stage.  His two eyes peep over three Pioneers.  His waist and upper torso bends over the CD players.  The man is dressed in a black tee and sporting his signature stingy-brim fedora.  A tattooed tribal arrow points towards his hand that turns shiny knobs, while his right hand cups a silver earphone.  His stance commands all attention.    

A few facial visages appear stunned.  Perhaps the sight of their idol standing a few feet away smacks them.  Or is it the beat?  The “oonz, oonz, oonz,” clocks at high speeds.  All courtesy of a power kick drum, hissing snares and a heart pounding bass thump.  Bodies erk and jerk.  Inquiries of confusion contort eyebrows.  Smoky vocals sing that adds additional confusion.  The beat overpowers the messenger.  Louie understands.  He adjusts the controls.  Fail.  So, two heavyweights move a monitor closer to Vega’s post for greater sound definition.  The light bulb idea works.

“I was At The Club, somewhere near the bar.” Lynn Lockamy never sounded better in surround sound.  Her accappella plays over the same sixteen counts that startled minutes earlier.  The crowd gets it.  They sing, “When I saw that man.”          

Somewhere the secular intersects the spiritual.  A juxtapose that possesses one dancer to bolt up the stage and back down stage in nanoseconds.  “Can I preach to you?”  Arms thrust into the air.  Hands beat speakers.  Mops of hair wiggle from side-to-side.  People are short of falling out in the spirit.  Whatever Louie laced this “Can I preach to you?” acapella, sets the people free.  Earlier hesitations of premature expectations are now fully abandoned.  The people melt in the hands of Louie.  The room is ripe and ready to receive. 

“Hey, hey, hey, hey.”  A familiar voice beckons from the audio’s output.  “It’s Not Over,” sings a First Choice soundclip.   The score’s highs pull to the fore, the bass drops into oblivion that leaves the mids pitched against white noise.  Orchestrated strings pull the melody back into existence.  A moody electric guitar speaks with a twang.  The disco re-edit is the Gamble and Huff produced Jackson’s “Show You The Way To Go” vs. MFSB “The Sound of Philadephia” that sucks the room right into Louie’s black hole.

Mr. Vega is eager to show off his universe.  His world is full of stars.  Louie Vega staring Duane Harden, Louie Vega staring Bucie and Louie Vega staring Julie…the list goes on and on and on.  God love him.  Louie is always staring someone. 

If Louie had to play one summative oeuvre it would be Louie Vega starring Duane Harden’s “Never Stop.”  The Sunset Ritual Version lyrically laced with positivity uplifts the room to a higher state.  When lead vocalist Duane Harden backs Cindy Mizelle to sing ”Lift You Up,” the atmosphere erupts with explosives.  Louie could pack his crates, grab his wife and make a run for the door.  The crowd would never know they were robbed. 

Thankfully, the GRAMMY award winner proves why he is the hardest working man in soulful/deep/house music and continues to drop hits.  He plays his Piano Dub of the Native Sons “City Lights.”  Don’t get too comfortable with Inaya Day yelling, “Hey, Hey.”  Louie throws a curve ball.  When the outro bass line filters to low-fi, in comes Louie’s Factory Mix Part 1 for even more hi-fidelity bass trickery.  This guy won’t even stick to playing one of his remixes: he goes in to play two of his remixes.        

A key in F-minor bumps over 125 BPMs.  Is it filler time?  Louie allows the crowd to breathe.  After all, a professional knows not to wear his or her guests out in twenty minutes.  So he cools the school with the ‘Princess of House’ on “Angels Are Watching Over Me“ his Vega Old School UN Instrumental.    

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” The ever recognizable accent of Tambor’s founding father DJ Stan Zeff announces with microphone in hand.  “Let’s give a warm Tambor welcome for the second time to….. “

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Anane Vega

The force of Anane does not pull in the opposite direction but rather digs deeper into the waters that birthed her voice of ancestral soul.   Her Cape Verde, two tiny archipelagos to the left of the Motherland’s shores, roots is her narrative.  At one point growls and chirps resonates through the room.  At safer beats per minute, one dancer feels compelled to join the flock rushing center stage to lay eyes on the DJ. 

The male and female species are rarely treated to lay eyes on a Glamazon.  Let alone a Glamazon DJ.  A simple gesture as pulling her sandy blond locks back into a tail captivates the room.  The “Bem Ma Mi” singer radiates a glow that blings brighter than the ‘Rock’ gold chain hanging around her elongated neck.  Voices whisper, “Beauty is only skin deep.”  But in Anane’s case her God give beauty is layered not linear.  Not one to rest solely on her symmetrical cheekbones, the singer, DJ, wife, philanthropist and most recent entrepreneur proves she has skills.  The music she plays is self-evident, realized and afro driven.  A fact her partner-no, not Antonello Coghe-acknowledges in eye distant.  A head nod to her hubby at work provides approval for him to chime in the fun.   The two stationed at polar opposites of the mixing spectrum align their chakras into one cohesive body.  Impressive, breathtaking and sometimes all over the place is what the two display.  A husband and wife DJ tag team.  After all, Louie and Anane are house music’s Jay and Bey.      

“Flowers bloomin, mornin’ dew and the beauty seems to say…..A velvet voice sings.  “It’s a pleasure when you treasure all that’s new and true and gay.”  Rhythm and Blues lovers recognize the voice they grew up with as Luther Vandross.  Then from nowhere, Glow’s “Change of Love” goes from straight disco to proper Jersey house.  Dancing feet keep pace for the second verse.  Until a voice announces, “We gon take it back.” 

Where Anane stops:  Louie starts.  Electric synths jabs staccato punches.  The volume slowly ascends.  The ears of elders recognize the ear candy.  “Say are you happy” an angelic voice asks.  Feet stomp the floor.  Arms thrust into the air.  “Have you been down to the club that the worldly people love.”

Perhaps this Moon Ritual is not the “Club Lonely (Lonely People)” that Lil’ Louis envisioned.  Black, brown, tan, yellow, beige and peach faces dot wall to wall.  People are adorned with their spouse, people whisper amongst friends and even the single dance hand in hand.  No one appears to be lonely.

A few counts later the medley switches tides but stays true old school.  “Can You Hit It/Hit It,” a powerhouse vocal repeats.  Again the crowd goes AWOL.  “Brighter Daaaaaaayyyyy.”  Singer Dajae wails into the air for an extended frame on the Cajmere’s Underground Goodies Mix.  Lads take note a professional not only knows the right song to play at the right time but the right remix to play of the song. 

Earth People’s “Dance” floors feet and silences every criticism.  “I Got Something for your mind, your body and soul.”  A First Choice sound clip brags.  The party man does not stop there he continues throwing down classic heat from Chitown to the 5 Boroughs.  But around the corner lurks eyes that glow with fire in the dark.  A force flies from the speakers.  Knees crash onto the concrete.  Acid house spews its vengeance.   

BLACKOUT.  One dancer is stretched out between a speaker box and a railing. 

 

 

 

 

Visuals & Words by AJ Dance

 

 

 

LOUIE VEGA & ANANE 15.02.14 PART II

February 16, 2014

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A Different Energy

 

Through hazy vision and dim lights the stage appears as one giant schmooze fest.  Louie’s stage manager is not attentive.   People dart to rub elbows with the “Hollywood of House.”  Do you even know who Louie Vega is?- people dance on stage.  Pearly whites, handshakes and bear hugs overpower the music.  The Hollywood couple must have messaged all of their mangs and dames to hobnob onstage.  Their bleached blond bangs and soulfro frocks are completely strange, never having graced a prior Tambor.  

When Anane puts down her bedazzled gold phones she grabs a Fambor faithful for a dance.  One by one, more and more lovelies join the awesome twosome.   Onstage rumps shake in the air.  “Cerca Di Mi” never sounded so sexual.  

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An unusual amount of sex straddles the air.  And the potent seduction only increases with ritual mating calls.  When Africa’s Busiswa references queens and her royal highness on the DJ Zihle acclaimed “My Name Is,” actual freaks run to the dance floor.  Wet bodies frottage.  Hips gyrate.  Groins gravitate.  Arousal is felt.  The people are molested on the dance floor…by the music. 

The energy is not all defined by sex. The smoke free zone becomes a hotbed for cancer sticks to spew venom.  Toppling off table tops, aluminum cans piss carbs and cals onto the once covered baby powdered floor.  The room reeks of sweat.  The walls perspire.  The cement floor gives way to slippery puddles. 

A voice yells over Femi Kuta’s “Truth Don Die.”  “There is a different energy in here.”

Of course, this is a Moon Ritual party. 

“Just what is a Moon Ritual?”   

A phenomenon not easily defined but worthy of experience.   

Back on the platform, myths become future folklore.  Local legendary DJs, transplants via NYC, perform an impromptu “I’ll House You,” another adlibs, “I Get Deep, I Get Deep, I Get Deep.”    

Somewhere in the ritual’s final minutes, Louie shines his spotlight back on the real stars of the night, the dozens of people still gathered on the floor, by playing Stevie Wonder’s “Another Star.”  He teases the crowd.  “Is It All Over My Face?” Fifty voices chant. “Hell Yeah.”  Loose Joints has the hanger-ons love dancing.  Louie loves “Days Like This.”  He smiles.  Then he tells the people to “Stand On The Word.” That’s funny.  Sunday morning church service is only hours away.    

All the while, Louie never utters one word into the microphone.  His voice is amplified through the music he plays, a projection that allows him to stand taller than his stature and outshine the brightest of his contemporaries.  This is the power of the Vegas, to make anyone and everyone feel like a star for the night.  From old friends to new friends.  From dancers to wallflowers.  From music makers to music breakers.  From Beverly’s hills to Georgia’s red clay.  Louie’s world is all about stars.  

Visuals and Words by AJ Dance