Started 2/11 finished 2/15.
Atlas was last night. Anjali and I were super-tired on Saturday and took a nap before the show. I got up and started getting ready well before Anjali who had a very difficult time waking up and getting motivated. We were running late and didn’t even leave the house until Anjali was supposed to be on stage. We were even later because we had to pick up our friend Jennifer who was kind enough to help us gather email addresses for our mailing list at the show. There was some sort of private architects’ masquerade at Holocene in the early part of the evening so there was already a dance floor when we arrived during E3’s first set.Anjali started DJing almost immediately upon our arrival. I was going to spend some time getting mentally prepared for going on after her, when she tells me me it was already time for me to go on. Since we were so late she decided to give up most of her first set so that we could remain on schedule. We had guest DJ JOHNJOHN up from SF and we didn’t want his set to be pushed back any later than it was. I was not prepared to go on but I did anyway.
In the days leading up to the gig I had been focusing a lot of my listening on a deluge on new reggaeton releases. As I was listening to stuff at home the week before I thought about how easy it would be to play an all-reggaeton set. As I started my first set I felt like I should hold some of the hotter tracks back for my second set. Some times reggaeton goes over great, some times not so much. Since I had a dance floor, and people were dancing to reggaeton, and I didn’t know what kind of response I would get during my later set, I decided not to worry too much about holding back tracks. I didn’t play an all-reggaeton set. I played some Funk Carioca, some French Hip-hop, M.I.A.’s “XR2,” and even a Panjabi diwali rhythm mashup. I went up and down in tempo and hopped back and forth from genre to genre while trying to be somewhat thoughtful about the flow my set. I ended with several tracks featuring Baltimore club-styled breaks which ended my set at quite a fast tempo.
E3 was up next and with the degree to which I was socialzing with friends at the time I’m afraid I can’t relate any of it to you at this point. I know that I was sitting in the back room when I heard Rishi Rich’s “Push It Up” and realized that Anjali had already gone on. So my timing continued to be off, because I thought she wasn’t going to go back on for quite a while at that point. She stuck to desiton/Hinditon/bhangraton almost exclusively for her entire set (give or take a Nina Sky/Ivy Queen track and a Sean Paul song). She threw in a new Bollywood number and then at the very end of her set a Specialist & Tru-skool track. At the sound of the Panjabi vocals the crowd went crazy. She looked to me to ask if she could play a few more. I said “sure” and when she put on “Mele Wich Jatt” the crowd EXLPODED and I was left with a dilemma. Anjali had already played several songs in to my set. The crowd was freaking out. Because we had a guest the resident DJs were only playing short forty minute sets. Anjali had not played any bhangra until the end of her set and now she was dancing on stage and the crowd was going crazy and what were we supposed to do next? The crowd didn’t know how short our sets had to be. Since many people were waiting for bhangra and they had just started to get their fix, they might not appreciate my booting Anjali from the stage, even if I was going to play some bhangra. Since some Indians in the house who had been pacing the perimeter all night were just starting to dance to what they had came to hear, they might not appreciate the white boy getting on stage after Anjali had just started to give them what they want. Because I get the opportunity at Andaz to play all the Panjabi and Hindi music that I want I often focus on other genres when I am playing at Atlas. Some of our fans come to Atlas without a clear sense of how it differs from Andaz and they come only wanting to hear Indian music. Inevitably our sets will come back around to Indian music if only because so much of the crowd wants this sound. I really wanted to play reggaeton and give people some Funk Carioca as well. How would this go over since the crowd was clearly so hyped to be listening to bhangra?
After Anjali’s Zeus/Lehmber track I threw in two more Lehmber tracks (with production by PJD and Sangra Vibes respectively) for a Lehmber trifecta, and then a bhangra/hip-hop fusion from the new ADH. Looking out at the crowd I sensed I could easily have played a hard bhangra set for the less-than-a-half-hour that I had left in my set. I really wanted to do something different than that, but I questioned the extent to which I was going to lose the crowd by moving in a different direction. I decided to stay true to the around-the-world ethic of Atlas and move on to other sounds. I steeled myself and transitioned into some metallic Funk Carioca. I know, “What was he thinking?”
There are times when a DJ does exactly what the crowd wants, either through playing requests, or simply gauging exactly what the crowd will want to hear next. Then there are times when the DJ has their own idea of what they want to do and they attempt to drag the crowd along with them. Or the DJ tries to do some combination of the two. I was worried about how people might respond to my new direction but I didn’t let it stop me.
I am now finishing up this report many days later. I am trying to recall what I played. I know I played some Funk Carioca and some reggaeton. I also know I didn’t return to Indian music. Other than that it is vague. I played a fast one from New Flesh’s last album. I know I finished my set with an absolutely crazy Fulanito meren-house track. It was so nutso and deleriously fast (just like I like my merengue) that I realized only after putting it on how perverse it must have seemed to JOHNJOHN who was going on next. I’m sure he must have felt like, “Fuck you very much, you asshole.” I was worried that I was going to clear the entire club with my last song as JOHNJOHN was getting ready to go on, but fortunately that didn’t happen. People were confused and standing around awkwardly on the dance floor, but I didn’t notice a mass exodus. JOHNJOHN played a mix of dubstep, Afro-latin house and the like. I retreated to the back room to socialize with friends so I am not going to be a very good commentator on his set. E3 ended up going on after him and played until the lights went on.
Thank you to everyone who came out and kept the dance floor packed all night. We could never do it without you. If you wanted to hear more Bhangra or Bollywood come to Andaz on the 24th. See you then.