Sunday, June 26, 2005

Baltimore club music has been a part of my life on some level for years and years; "Doo Doo Brown" used to make dance floors go nuts like Kris Kross at my sixth-grade dances. Al Shipley wrote something recently about people in Baltimore not realizing that this wasn't something that happened everywhere, that there was nothing weird about rap radio playing an hour of intense, low-tech, jacked-up breakbeat house every Friday night, and it's true. When I was younger, I always thought it was just like a more raw version of C & C Music Factory or something. As I got older, I started to appreciate that we had a really distinctive local thing happening, something urgent and rough and powerful and completely our own (or not mine, maybe, but anyway), way better than the wack muddy live go-go tracks they keep playing on DC radio. I've been to hood record stores and corner clothing stands looking for mix CDs, but I'd never experienced club music in anything like its natural setting, mostly because I don't particularly want to be the one goofy-ass tall white guy at the club by myself. So last night was something special. Jason Urich, who runs the local indie record store Once.Twice Sound, threw a warehouse party; his noise band played, as well as a couple of local indie rappers I wrote a story on a while back and some electronic group that just got signed to Ghostly International. But the big draw was K-Swift, the queen of club music. Her set was one of the most magical things I've experienced all year. It would be so easy for something like that to turn into some weird tense racial freakshow, like "wow look at these crazy black people!", and it would be so easy for her to just treat us like whatever asshole rich kids were paying her that night. But no. She never stopped smiling, never stopped yelling at Jason to bring her back every weekend. It reminded me of Carl Craig being flown in to DJ a rave in England in like 1988, looking out and seeing a hundred thousand white kids loving his shit, just bemused. And the music was amazing; even the tracks that sound boring or redundant on the radio had this whole new urgency when you're packed into a boiling-hot warehouse loft with sweat dripping from the ceiling, four hundred drunk kids dancing and screaming and losing it. K-Swift played tracks I'd never heard before, tracks that chewed up and spat out the most ridiculous songs, songs that never would have occurred to me: The Darth Vader theme! Orbital! The fucking Royal Crown Revue! It's entirely possible that I haven't connected with music that viscerally since I stopped going to VFW Hall punk shows in twelfth grade. It was ridiculous and insane and masterful, and I am never going to forget it. I needed that.

Oh, and before I forget, here's me on Three 6 Mafia and Crime Mob.