All About juicebomb
10Jul 07I recently broke my elbow in a bicycle accident. Now I type real slow. For the near future, I'm looking at less pew-pew and a lotmore QQ.
I haven't been going to many music shows in the last year, but this past week has been pretty busy. On Saturday, I caught ?uestlove's (The Roots) dj set at a small club near my house. He is a resident dj there, but appears infrequently due to a rather full-blown career. Last night, I checked out a Toyota-sponsored set from Gang Starr's DJ Premier. The two could not have been more different.
?uestlove was spinning tunes to dance to, period. He had several subsets consisting of classic and recent hip-hop, 80's top 40 dance and soul, and the continuity was pretty good. There was minimal technical showboating, with jarring transitions wherever he felt like it, but there was good flow and there was only one point where he started to lose the audience. Otherwise, the crowd was loving it and the dj was having fun.
DJ Premier seemed to phone it in. He has a pretty polished set, but you definitely got the feeling that everything was scripted, especially the frequent call-and-response with the audience. After opening with some good tunes and a long but well-chosen Gang Starr medley, "Primo" dropped into an extended technical noodling session that killed the dancefloor and thinned the crowd. I had hoped that we'd be treated to more original work, but that was not the case. Thank god for the top shelf open bar in the VIP lounge. So here are two examples of famous producer/performers spinning other peoples music, with very different results. They both had attentive, enthusiastic audiences, great sound systems, and plenty of good mp3s (no vinyl was harmed in the making of these shows).
What went wrong with Premier's set? Maybe it was because it was really a corporate gig (tickets were free). Maybe it was the fact that cutting up old Run-DMC tracks is just not entertaining anymore. He is truly a master dj, but there was a whole lotta chatter between tracks and too many lapses in danceability.
If you have the chance to catch a ?uestlove show and aren't afraid to dance to whatever the hell is making his afro bounce that day, do make the effort. If you have a chance to see Premier on the Scion tour, do make the effort to get a VIP pass.
Tonight I'm going to the Phillies game, and then Josh Wink is spinning at the same place ?uestlove played for like $5 or something. Not sure I'll make it, but having access to world-class DJ's for peanuts is not something to be taken for granted so I'll do my best to get there.
The other night, my wife and I were cleaning up the debris left over from tearing down the plaster ceiling in our living room. We had already spent quite a bit of time in the car, searching out Philly's city dumps, to get rid of what must have been close to a ton of debris, and a lot of that time was spent trying to circumnavigate the Mummers parade. Normally held on New Year's day, it had been rained out and pushed to the following weekend. We drove down to Oregon Ave and tried to cross Broad St, but ran into a police barricade. There were string bands tuning up and pushing their set pieces around. Oh man, I thought, we are at cheez ground zero. Deep in South Philly, surrounded by macho men wearing feathered costumes, pumping mini-parasols in the air to banjo-N-sax big band riffs. I was a little bummed that we were in the car on what must be one of the very very very few 70 degree January days in Philly history, instead of riding our bikes through Mummerland, but we had work to do. So, after two dump runs with our bags of ancient, horrible drywall and plaster, we decided to stroll the three blocks up to Broad to see why there was still a ruckus at 6pm.
And what timing. We caught one string band just as they were beginning a performance, and they were pretty great. The costumes, the zany set pieces, very French powdered whigs meets Corpse Bride...hard to describe but easy to appreciate. A little piece of Burning Man, but so far to the opposite of the spectrum that you almost reach the other pole. The Mummers need to discover Black Rock, but that's unlikely. Anyway, I realized immediately what the Mummers are all about...I guess it was seeing a really good band right off the bat...the last time I went to the parade was probably in the early 80's.
Next up was the Fralinger string band, and I didn't need anyone to tell me that they've won the past 4 consecutive years. Their 'Native American' theme was over the top but not offensive, and was just a theatrical wonder in the middle of an intersection. The costumes were nuts, the choreography right on, and the set pieces inventive and well-executed. They did go on to claim their 5th title, and deservedly so. Just in case we were going to go home thinking that the Mummers are above tackiness (under those feathers), the next band pulled out some forehead-slapping Mexican stereotypes (drunken, gap-toothed, cactus costumes???) and cliche musical numbers. Oh well, my faith in the mummers is 66.6% restored.
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