All words: Marie Formica
All photos: Cesar Olivares
The Howard Theatre hosted the all powerful, up and coming Netsky, drum and bass style DJ. His mix-and-match mixing pump out dance-worthy tunes–often a cartoonish, pronounced digital undercurrent leads in the heart-skipping beat that’s familiar to many drum’n’bass fans. The crowd at the Howard was a strange mix of underage kids, historied ravers and people out for a good time on a Thursday night. If it wasn’t a mom with a fuzzy panda hat and scarf in one corner, it was an ordinary twentysomething DC going crazy dancing in another. At a whopping 24 years old, this guy is good. Mixing in some brassy vocals (or that of a digital phone operator, in one case) Netsky caters to all of the above type of fans. The wooden floors at the Howard took a beating that night, with throngs of the audience jumping like so many rock fans. Sometimes focusing more on vocals, and sometimes more on the sheer beat, he allowed the crowd to dance or revel in the song, his mixing and remixing allowing either.
And sure, good mixing, great sampling and locked down coordination help to stir something in your audience, but it’s this elusive quality is what makes him so popular: the type of music he produces changes depending on what you’re in the mood to hear. Starting in 2010 with an eponymous release which was as dark as it was bright varying from track to track, he seems to have picked up more of a video game, cowboyesque feel, as heard in his 2012 album 2Deluxe. With a history of collaboration and popular remixes, don’t be surprised to hear this Belgian play over the airwaves soon, supplying a backtrack ala Calvin Harris.
Cracking the bat for Netsky first up was DJ Code, who sounded like he had roots deep in the early days of electronic music. He played hip-hop influenced beats most of the night and even tried his hand at drum’n’bass, which he said he’d not played before but thought he would as he was opening for Netsky. He’s been featured on A State of Trance, a veritable audible bible for EDM fans, which is transmitted in weekly chapters. Smoothly transitioning from song to song and never missing an opportunity to rile the crowd, he kept the audience jumping until after midnight. Focused on the task at hand, he cranked out a fusion of trance and hip-hop, not rushing the audience to a conclusion, but guiding them to a dreamed up dancing mood.