- Halloween week was an absolute madhouse last week at the U Street Music Hall. Dave Nada’s moombahton sound is as popular right now on the underground as any sound in the world has ever been on that stage. Moombahton Massive, the first major meeting of the top producers of the sound took the collective breath away from the crowd in attendance as from Calgary’s A-Mac’s opening set through DJ Sabo introducing the idea of dubstep and moombahton combining (“moombahstep”) alongside a ton of traditional cumbia, and the Netherlands’ Munchi (who has been producing for 10 years though only 21, and has only been DJing for five months!) throwing down a set of his own material entirely, a track sampling the Tetris theme cementing his DJ Sega like hold over the chopped and screwed Dutch house game. Nada’s set wasn’t just great for the sounds, but was also one of the best sets of his career from a technical and crowd control standpoint as well, working a selection to get the maximum impact from the massive 40,000 watt sound system at the venue.
- Dubstep was major as well, as the Trouble and Bass Crew’s throwdown of heavy sounds on Halloween itself was headlined by Drop the Lime whose mastery of trending bass heavy sounds in a palatable direction for mainstream ears has in recent months caught the ear of international tastemaker DJ Magazine, which given their bias towards what happens on this side of the globe is rather impressive and truly deserved. The goth leaning DJ crew’s sound really lends itself to Halloween raves, and their U Hall monthly has picked up so much steam as of late that it makes sense that they celebrated Halloween in DC.
- For more classic heads, Underworld’s set at 9:30 Club a few weeks after Ratatat and Kruder and Dorfmeister also turned the venue on its ear with classic electronica speaks well to the multi-generational EDM interests of the city. It certainly feels like we’re in the middle of a musical renaissance across the board in the city as either the DC area’s musical IQ has increased, or people just have disposable income that they wish to spend in the realm of al supporting all music, EDM included. But to hear and see that terrific sets by DJs and producers of all genres and eras are being well supported is a wonderful sign.
- This week one of the most aurally potent acts in recent memory, Bassnectar are at 9:30 Club on Wednesday night, and having physically seen their live performance with drums and a DJ at Electric Zoo, and having heard about their set at Burning Man, there’s a full expectation of face melting joy taking place at the venue. Rex Riddem, locally affiliated with the always terrific Fort Knox Five is opening, and makes coming to the venue a bit earlier than expected completely worthwhile.
- Also on the local front, major props to the Sol Power collective of Deep Sang, Meistro and DJ Stylus on being added to the monthly schedule as DJs at the 18th Street Lounge. The trio are more than deserving of the honor, and comprise the deepest DJ crew in the area insofar as true appreciators of international sounds are concerned. Their parties are afro-funk sweatboxes not unlike DJ Underdog’s Afrobeat parties thrown by Lunchbox Theory at Bossa, but to see that sound reach that vaunted venue is wonderful news, indeed. Kudos.
- Speaking of upcoming events, DJ Shadow, of in many ways inventing the genre of trip hop, and being a leading proponent of sampling fame plays Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore on November 11th. Shadow’s a legend, and on a personal level, his track “Organ Donor” is still a perpetual favorite. I had the opportunity to talk to him last night about his tour, his feelings on the digitized underground, social networking, his unique thoughts on working with other artists, and new sounds in hip hop. It was a blast to speak with him, and definitely check out the event.
In the next few weeks, I’m going to start looking ahead to 2011 for DC in the column. On the EDM front, U Hall has done a wonderful job alongside Panorama Productions in really gaining a stake in aggressively and consistently moving to the front of the line regarding handling mainstream trending EDM in the city. However, there definitely needs to be a synergy with the local crews who consistently throw parties locally attempting to lure fans from those parties and events to their events as well. There’s almost an unspoken line in the sand that keeps EDM culture in the city very stratified. K Street and North Capitol Street types don’t do U Street and vice versa. It’s the artificial lines that separate the city that make redevelopment back to the legendary 90s era of Nation (which feels completely possible) not able to occur.
The point of this column is not going to be hyping parties and telling people where to go. It’s going to be more about celebrating really great EDM, and hopefully getting people out to find it, even if it means breaking out of your comfort zone. On a touchy feely sociological level, we’re all people, and we need to be better unified. The city deserves it. Large parties being well attended means smaller parties are well attended which leads to DJs and venues making money, which ultimately leads to more music, higher quality events, and in an economically stressful time, an eventual stretch of value in your entertainment dollar isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The DROP – The Hottest Beats in the EDM Universe
- Munchi – As was mentioned before, the 21 year old Dutchman is the hottest new producer in the game. Great guy, former DC dude and DJ down with Mad Decent Dirty South Joe compiled a “Best of Mix” highlighting the young man’s excellent year with moombahton, kuduro leaning tracks and a number of other bass heavy but organically traditional melodies.
- Alex Clare – Up All Night (produced by Switch and Diplo) is my song of the week this week. It gives an early inkling of what the mainstreaming of moombahton may end up sounding like.
- Swedish House Mafia (Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello) have a MOVIE, Take One, coming out soon about well, being superstar DJs. The accompanying album plays like a retrospective of their tremendous careers, with giant 2010 single “One” featuring Pharrell as a highlight. I’m really quite excited about the prospects of this movie on a mainstream American interest in EDM level. Steve Angello also plays Fur for Glow on November 20th. A must attend event for sure.
- This Friday night, one of my favorite local dubstep spinners Harry R4NS0M is at 9:30 Backbar with another solid local name Christine Moritz, DJK and Distant Maps doing a live Analog set with vintage Roland drum machines. R4NS0M dropped a really fun dubstep mix this year for my True Genius Requires Insanity, which I advise you listen to, and also if in the area check out the event. A plethora of styles and a mere inkling of the talent DC has to offer!
Again, if a promoter or EDM talent in the city, PLEASE sign up and actively use BYT ALL CITY to hype your events. If a partygoer and reading this column, you likely have an ample clue of where you’re headed. However, it certainly doesn’t hurt to check (as I do), BYT ALL CITY on a daily basis to ensure you’re not missing anything. Radio Slave and Calvin Harris were in town ON THE SAME NIGHT last week. Many people were not aware! U Hall has Paco Osuna, Derrick Carter and Tittsworth back to back to back this week, and Tittsworth’s playing at the same time as Steve Aoki is at Fur! Nuts!
If wanting to chat further about electronic dance music, email dowling.marcus.k AT gmail.com, or follow my Twitter feed at @marcuskdowling. Thanks for reading!