The featured guest tonight was Seishi, a local Japanese-looking dude with dreadlocks and a trumpet-toting sidekick. I must add that although he did have a regular trumpet, he also had a weird device that produced all sorts of electronic sounds, while the dude blew into it and rotated a giant mug-shaped knob on its end.
But before I delve into the meat of tonight's performance, I must pay tribute to the sound system improvements that have taken place over the past few months. First, there was the switch from huge subwoofer-mounted EVs to wall-mounted JBLs, clearing the view of the DJ from every vantage point on the floor. This night saw the christening of a new set of CervinVega subwoofers, four in all, that are slightly larger than the old EVs but produce a disproportionately higher amount of bass. Halleluiah! Heaven on earth!
MDOC displayed his usual poise showing off the capabilities of the new sound system and playing plenty of crowd faves. The guest took over shortly after midnight, and he didn't hesitate to impress with his skill. The opening tracks were chill jazzy numbers that benefited especially from the Trumpet. It was a nice intro to the madness that followed. I can't speak on this DJ's technical skills as I was enjoying his set too much to really pay attention. All I can say is that the performance left nothing to be desired, and the trumpet was a very nice touch. We need more acts that combine live performance with DJ-ing, and I am glad that Bostonians are leading the revolution. Rock on!
I have to warn you, my loyal reader, that this week's review only briefly touches upon the Elements guest and deals more with social aspects of the night club life. It is difficult for me to authoritatively speak about Mr. Raw.full because tonight I took a break from our traditional venue (and the object of this web site) and instead partook in an event known as Blues Jam Night, which transpired at the Acton Jazz Cafe, conveniently located nary a mile from my crib. I felt the occasion of Jenya's birthday justified this radical departure from the established and cherished norm.
First a word about Ill Skillz. Although I was not present at the show myself, I planted moles in opportune locations, and thus collected a fair amount of information. Apparently, this DJ travels light, choosing to use CDs instead of vinyl for his mixes. Somehow (through alien sense or psychic ability), a fair number of peeps anticipated a bit of lameness, and the venue was not filled to capacity despite the performer's rather broad halo of fame. The last DJ to use CDs at Elements was Technical Itch, and his performance was severely disappointing. Raw.full didn't disappoint in the track selection, and besides being a bit inconsistent in his set progression, he pleased the souls who did choose to represent.
Now that I've taken care of the business part of this 'review', I would like to talk about atmosphere at Acton Jazz Cafe and how it relates to Thursdays at the Phoenix. The night consisted of a number of musicians rotating in various positions; there must have been at least 25 different performers, with as many as 8 on stage at one time. The total audience in the club was no more than 30; with musicians making up the far majority. This slanted make-up vividly reminded me of Elements, where on nights with more obscure performers, the audience is overflowing with DJs or other DnB personalities (such as producers - hey Don! or MCs - hey Joe!). The striking difference was the age group - nearly everyone present was in their late forties to early fifties. This observation actually brought a question to my mind - would the Elements crowd eventually move on to Jazz and the Jazz crowd move on to something else, say classical, or are we pretty much stuck in our little subcultures? I was amazed by the openness and friendliness of the people. The atmosphere in the club certainly promoted communication much more than the Phoenix. Although during the actual performance, music was quite loud, there were many intermissions, and Jenya and I were approached by most people at the club - the organizer thanked us for coming, friends of the musicians chatted and invited us to dance, and several musicians sat with us and chatted about the event - they were obviously nervous and enjoyed sharing their excitement. The Elements regulars, although extremely friendly, are very cautious about accepting strangers into their club. Certain individuals of course stand out for their openness (hey Anna!), but it takes a while to feel really at home there, especially for someone who isn't trying to be a DJ (like yours truly). I don't know whether people become more open with age or whether Elements just attracts particularly introverted patrons. Of course, unrelenting DnB at 120 Decibels, nearly pitch darkness, and lack of places to sit face to face with people don't help matters.
Allright; I think I've rambled enough in this pseudo-review. I find both Acton Jazz Cafe and Elements to be amazing places to spend a Thursday night, and although I enjoy Blues now and again, my addiction to Drum'n'Bass will keep me coming to the Phoenix for the foreseeable future. If you are ever there, look me up, come by and say hi.
27 May 2004
TeeBee (Metalheadz, Subtitles, Prototype, Norway)
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With my new Cambridge job and Eddie's new office in Waltham, we are struggling to find a routine that would work as well as the old one -- meet at my place, listen to Eddie's mix on the ride over to Cambridge, and designate a driver for the ride home. Last week, I stayed in the office; Eddie and I hooked up near the Phoenix, had dinner at Indian and headed over to Elements and afterward drove away in our separate cars. Tonight, I felt too exhausted to stay at the office for an extra four hours, so I headed home instead. It turned out to have been a great decision. As luck would have it Jenya, my dear wife, had decided to take Friday off, and so this was a perfect opportunity for her to finally join my night life. It was a trivial matter to convince her to come along once she found out that Teebee is from Norway; practically a neighbor from her hometown Murmansk. In addition, in a radical departure from our previous traditions, Eddie decided to do a live mix in my living room. He lugged all his gear into my living room, hooked up to the power amp, and mixed for about an hour. It was a great prelude for the rest of the evening.
We finished our intimate preparty on the late side, and arrived at the Phoenix around 11. Had we arrived any later, we wouldn't not have been able to get in - we were literally the last people allowed to enter before the place was deemed at capacity. Pheeewwww!
Lenore was on the decks basking the audience in a fury that could only mean one thing - the guest's set will be amazing. When Teebee stepped up to the controls, I remarked that he looks nothing like his pictures on the Elements site. He allowed Lenore's last track to play out and started his set without holding anything back. I didn't pay as much attention to his technical skills as maybe I should have, but I must say that I was really enjoying the set, so it must have been really smooth. The mix didn't feel monotonous and unfamiliar; in this sense, Teebee qualified under my definition of a good DJ - one who plays tracks I like when I want to hear them. He definitely had a good connection with the crowd. Jenya remarked on how "cute" he was when singing along to the vocal tracks. The only downside of such a magnate performing at Elements is that the place was really crowded. There was no room to dance on the floor, and I ended up standing on the bench, careful to avoid clothes and certain puking individuals. Really, it's a small price to pay for getting to groove to a stellar set by one of the top DnB producers.
As always, I bow before the Elements crew for running such a happening night.
20 May 2004
Crook (elements, US)
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Crook is one consistent guy, so it's difficult to come up with anything fresh to say about his performance; something that hasn't been said in the past reviews. He did his job; keeping the dance floor packed and the peeps happy. That's the spirit of Elements; great DJs who do what they do out of love and not greed, who enjoy the environment as much as the audience, and who become the audience when not DJing. Crook, you are da man!
13 May 2004
Keithy B (unlimited/groundforce, us), Mateo (brand nu bass, us)
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What should one expect on a night exactly one week after an amazing performance by Machete, with two locals on the decks and my partner in crime Twin Plates on vacation in California? My plan was to stop by on the early side, catch some tunes from the beginning of first guest's set, and quietly take off. It was an admirable plan, and it worked out quite well, up to that last part. My vision of a mellow night with two local dudes struggling to keep the crowd interested was completely out of whack. The place was packed, and everyone I talked with said this was the best night in a while. That's no small feat for ones like Keithy B and Mateo.
MDOC's opening set was mellow and housy, setting a perfect stage for the fury that followed. Keithy B impatiently took over the controls on the early side, around midnight, and immediately immersed the audience in a barrage of high-BPM rhythms. The crowd went wild. Heat emanating from the amps, speakers, the TV projector, and the peeps didn't help in keeping me and other dancers from sweating and becoming exhausted, and we were pleased when the beats eased off a bit giving us a chance to chill. Two more cycles of intensity and chill followed, making me thoroughly tired by the time Mateo stepped up to the decks.
Mateo's setup deserves a couple of words. He had an Apple laptop running Final Scratch, and most of his mixing came from MP3's. His set was less intense but more diverse than of the first guest. He included a variety of tunes, including dark breaks, hard sci-trance, and other craziness. I found the mixing from computer not as smooth as pure vinyl, although it was acceptable. Despite the intense heat that made the dance floor feel like a sauna, the audience continued to dance till the very last beats were dropped, after the lights had come on.
Big thanks to the Elements crew for letting us experience both the locals and the big names.
06 May 2004
Machete (Respect, Junglist Platoon, L.A., US)
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Lenore's opening set was impressive, raising the bar for the guest to the point where I was wondering whether he would even be able to take over and keep the same level of energy. Clearly, I had underestimated Machete. From his intro track, it became apparent that there would be no fooling around. Instead, I was blown away with no holds barred as active as it gets DJing.
Machete is a true virtuoso on the turntables; his masterful technique radiating energy into the delighted audience and allowing me to finally dance like it's the third time I've been to Elements. Not only were his mix-ins and mix-outs imperceptible, most of the time he was playing two records simultaneously, sometimes with the same track, sometimes different and using various effects to make the performance truly dynamic. I can certainly say that there wasn't a single minute when I was bored. He would break long stretches of high energy d'n'b with scratching and other interesting showcases of his skill. He closed the night with a set of ragga tunes, one of which "I am an everyday junglist" he played several times to the ecstatic yells of the audience, who enthusiastically sang along with these self-describing lyrics.
Another aspect I appreciated was his stage presence. Machete was a delight to watch, and it was crystal clear that he was having a blast at the controls, contaminating everyone in the room with his energy. Combined with his explosive style and impeccable track selection, his personality made the night absolutely unforgettable.
If you, my dear reader, make it out to L.A., make every effort to seek out and enjoy a set by Machete.
On tap tonight we had two masterful DJs, Sileni and Clever. DJ Sileni is a fellow Bostonian, while DJ Clever hiked over from the Big Apple to entertain us.
Crook opened the night with some mellow tracks, appropriate to the relaxed emptiness of the Phoenix Landing. As the peeps piled in, Crook slowly turned up the heat, nicely roasting the crowd with his fury by the time Sileni took over the controls.
Sileni is a fairly regular guest at Elements, and the audience knew exactly what to expect from him. I didn't and was rather surprised when I heard lots of dark breakbeats and not a hell of a lot of consistent rhythm. Ah, what the hell, this is Elements, not a typical dance club; anything goes here, especially anything out of the ordinary. The crowd was really enjoying themselves, and I did my best trying to dance to the convoluted percussion. The intense rolling bass of the tracks he picked reverberated deep in my gut and made the atmosphere very eerie and spooky. Sileni threw in a couple of familiar rhythmical dark tracks into the mix, breaking up his totally breakbeat set.
Clever patiently waited for his turn at the decks, and took over without much fuss. To my surprise, his track selection was very similar to Sileni's although less avant-garde and more danceable. Although not many tracks were familiar, the set was good, and the crowd, myself included, loved it.
Another interesting and unconventional night at Elements, another reason to come back.
22 April 2004
Lenore (elements, Boston, US)
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I apologize, my patient reader, for tonight I have failed you. I've allowed stress from my job search to interfere with my Elemental duties, and I beg your forgiveness. What started out as a night to let loose and forget about the upcoming decisions turned into an abuse of boose, up to and beyond the point of no return, the point at which a human body realizes that it has injected poison and does its best to cleanse itself of any traces of alcohol that might be present in the stomach. My recollection of the evening is quite dim, although I do remember noticing certain particularly hard tracks penetrating the restroom wall, especially when someone opened the door connecting the volume of air harboring me with one containing the DJ and the massive sound system that was translating vinyl grooves and Lenore's actions into waves of pulsing gas. Yes, I expect nothing but the best from this Elements co-founder, and I am sure had I been *significantly* less drunk, I would have been able to appreciate her "on the lighter side of dark" set in all its glory. I regret having missed this chance, and I apologize again to you, my dear reader.
15 April 2004
Klute (Commercial Suicide, UK)
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I can't help but wonder whether the opening DJ gets any instructions from the feature guest on the kind of set he/she should put together. There is often enough congruency between them to suggest at least some communication. Today, MDOC opened the night, and the tracks he picked were on the more mellow and housy of the D'n'B spectrum. His set did a perfect job of priming the crowd for the big feature, Klute.
By the time the K man was ready to take the stage, there was a line outside Elements a mile long, and that's only a slight exaggeration. And you know what! There was a good reason why so many people wanted to see this American-born Englishman. Masterfully using the equipment - turntables, mixer, amps, compressors, speakers - he energized the room to the maximum extent, soaking the crowd with beats and rhythms. The lucky souls who managed to secure a spot on the floor enjoyed a set of remarkable potency. Klute procured his fame by producing several full albums and influencing the direction of modern Drum and Bass, and yet he is no slouch as a DJ. Exuding utter confidence at the controls, he played a selection of crowd favorite dark and sci tracks, mixing seamlessly between them, and delighting us with his expressiveness. This was a night that reminded me just how early the Boston night clubs close, and despite having to get up at 7am the next morning, I would have gladly stayed much later than 2am.
Next time Klute visits us, and he graces us fairly regularly, make sure you are at Elements, and make sure to come early to avoid having to listen to his masterful mix from the street.
08 April 2004
Edisoncos (Woostah, USA), Elyte (Elemental Compounds, Boston, USA)
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Lenore opened the evening with some slow grooves, keeping it cool and focusing the spotlight on tonight's guests. The place filled up quickly, and there was a decent crowd on the floor by the time Edisoncos took over the decks. He respectfully let Lenore's last track come to a conclusion before pausing and starting off his set with a moderately paced piece. He quickly let the beats wind up and fall back down again. The rest of his set was a series of speed-ups and slow-downs with a period of five to seven tracks, most of which were unfamiliar to me. To be honest, I became a little bored with the set because I prefer mixes with more fast and sci-fi/dark tunes and also because I didn't hear any of my current faves. Nonetheless, his skills were impressive, and the creativity with which he approached his performance was admirable. I realize that there is a fine line for a DJs between playing enough interesting tracks to avoid sounding like everyone else and making the mix so eclectic that it's out of step with the audience. In this case, the crowd was enthusiastically dancing to the whole set, and the overall impression in the room was very favorable of this local DJ.
Second guest for the night was Elyte whose style was in sharp contrast with Edisoncos. Majority of his tracks were groovy Ragga and Jungle. The audience was absolutely wild from his performance, and although I am not fond of either of these styles, I found his performance exemplary. Had I liked the music, I know I would have enjoyed the set immensely. Again, I am glad that Elements isn't sticking to a single formulaic approach to its DJs
Most of all, I am thankful to Lenore who is willing to give the locals without huge names or years of nightclub experience the chance to get on the stage and give it their best.
01 April 2004
Aria (Act Your Age, US)
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Lenore opened for Aria without holding anything back. Despite the valiant attempts by the miserably rainy and cold night to interfere with the gathering of dnbheads, the place became nicely packed by the time Aria took the reigns. It was past midnight; the turntables and the peeps were nicely warmed up, and Aria wasted no time with slow beats or loungy grooves. He delved straight into insanity, and it was good. The tracks were right, the mixes were tight, and the blues was out of sight. The goodness continued for some time when suddenly, out of nowhere, a strange mellowness crept in. At first, it was a welcome change and a chance to relax. However, it persisted, and persisted, and persisted. About a quarter hour of mellowness; too long in the middle of a set. I started to feel the late hour, and to no surprise of mine, people here and thither let out wide sleepy yawns. Luckily, after this arduous torture, Aria let us have some more of the goodness we came for. The good times continued until the lights came on, and Aria was forced to surrender the equipment.
Overall, this was a great night. I would have welcomed more of my favorite tracks (I only heard a couple), but besides that and the somewhat lengthy recess, I truly enjoyed the night.