Well, now that I have some concept of how many people come here to take a look at my scrawlings I end up feeling guilty if I don’t put something up here regularly for your delectation. Since the last post was about Booty I will let you know how that went. It came together at the last minute so I was bummed I didn’t get more a chance to promote it and get the word out. It is a party I’ve always wanted to DJ since a really crazy crowd comes out to get down. I played a mix of reggaeton, baile funk, bhangra and A LOT of dirty Hip-hop. I don’t know how much people appreciated the nasty hip hop but it is what I wanted to play since I love it so and I get few chances to spin it out. Anjali and I have both learned it is not so appreciated by our Andaz fans. Anjali thinks she permanently alienated some fans when she dropped Shawna’s “Shake that Shit” some time ago. We love that song. Actually, we love Shawna period. RPM!! Here’s hoping she drops a hot new album soon. Anyway, point being that although I love to focus primariy on international music I love me my US born and raised Hip-hop but people might be disappointed at my playing it since they might be hoping for something more unusual and unknown from me. What do I know, I kept people dancing and that was what I was there for. Thank you to Puppet and Stormy and MoRocca for letting me share the evening with y’all.
So I’ve been stressed out for quite a while now getting ready for a huge Greek/Lebanese wedding at which I recently performed. Now that it is over Anjali can attest to my greatly reduced stress levels. When I perform at events largely attended by people of other cultures (just like I do for any audience) I go crazy trying to make sure I have every essential song that anyone might request. It had been a while since I had spent a lot of time and money exploring contemporary Arabic music. I have quite a large collection that just got a lot larger. In an earlier post I shouted out maqam.com and Chadi in particular for being so helpful. Well, I was under the impression that they are the largest distributor of Arabic music in the US. Well, I have also frequented Rashid Music Sales in Brooklyn and their website claims they are “the largest and oldest distributor of Arabic music.” I have certainly found a lot of great stuff there as well. You can check them out at rashid.com.
I went absolutely maniacal for a while there trying to get every Arabic and international pop hit I could get my hands on. Trying to imagine every direction that crowd might want me to go. Most of it was for naught as is often the case. The Greek music for the wedding was not my responsibility and instead I was to be handed a CD the day of the wedding. Interestingly enough they put the song “Bure Bure/Boro Boro” from the Bluffmaster soundtrack on there twice. I wondered to what extent Bollywood pop was saturating the international dance scene. Funnily enough I had to depend on that CD like crazy and not the entire suitcase of Arabic music I brought. The Greek relatives were the aggressive dancers who kept making requests and packing the floor. I couldn’t even get a proper dabke dance out of the Lebanese contingent. Well, don’t be surprised to hear a lot more Arabic music at Atlas since I now have a GREATLY expanded collection of Arabic pop and electronica. The second half of the wedding became a strictly Western music free-for-all: 70’s funk, 80’s, Hip-hop. I knew someone was going to request “My Humps” I just didn’t expect it to be an older white guy. Maximum saturation. Radio programmers say a song is only played out when not only all of their listeners are sick of it but everyone who doesn’t usually listen to their station knows it as well. Congratulations, “My Humps.”
The next night Anjali and I were to go to Stereolab but their bus got stuck in the snowy mountains so the show happened on Wednesday, March 8th. Well, I kind of psychically knew that we were arriving for their last song. Which we were. One of my favorites off Emperor Tomato Ketchup. We caught that and their two song encore with a song from Dots and Loops and “We’re Not Adult Orientated.” Anyone have a set list for that show? (Actually their offical website just helped me out www.stereolab.co.uk) I’ve seen them around 15 times and the last time (post-Mary) was by far the worst. Slow, uninvolving songs with Laetitia playing an unconvicing trombone. Well, she didn’t have a trombone for the few songs I saw. I love her voice, but I really think the songs benefit from a second voice. Never appreciated Mary enough when she was alive, unfortunately. Despite the sucky sound at the Wonder the show (what I saw of it) was a million times better than the last one I saw. I miss going on the road and seeing them several times in a row. I only wish they realized how much some of their fans want them to play long, noisy freak-outs. Yeah, they have amazing songs, but they are also great at the mind-melt.
The Stereolab show was an early one, so despite the fact that we never go out Anjali and I ended up at three shows that evening. Anjali wanted to check out Controller, Controller at Lola’s (thanks, Chantelle) because of their desi singer. We got to that show for the last song as well. Very metallish, and the singer had quite the stage presence. The 15 people at that show were a million times more energetic than the entire Stereolab crowd. Several people had come from quite far away to see that show and people were jumping so hard the ball bearing floor was rocking out of control. Next we went to see Dengue Fever at the Towne Lounge. We arrived shortly after the start of their set, packed crowd and the singer was so short we barely caught a glimpse. They do the retro-Cambodian pop thing so well we left shortly after with my thinking I could be listening to an old Cambodian pop recording at home without being in a packed club. She has the voice, for sure.
On Saturday we went to a packed showing of “Rang De Basanti” at the Valley in Beaverton. A little slice of India in the NW, the showing was a mob of Indian families. They oversold the viewing so we were sitting in the aisles along with families in chairs blocking the fire exits. Every walkway was filled with sitting people. The sound sucked and sounded distorted during the songs, which are bad, sorry A.R. Rahman fans. “Loose Control?” Yuck. The movie gets quite bloody and intense and there were a lot of children all the way down to infants. Some of them will be having some bad dreams I imagine. We got out of the movie with only hours to make it to our gigs. Anjali was opening for Sky Cries Mary at the Doug Fir and we were both playing Atlas that night. Of course we left everything for the last minute, weren’t prepared at all, and ran around like crazy to make it to the gigs on time.
I had the early slot at Atlas and was quite pleased with myself, dropping all sorts of great Arabic percussion pieces I discovered along with the amazing “El Hawa Sultan” by George Wassouf. I even got a micro dancefloor going to a Tigarah track and the Casiocity remix of Mr. Shin San. My second set was certainly mega-poppy opening as it did with Zion y Lennox “No Pares.” Anjali may have been playing drum’n’bass but I wanted to slow it down and not try to match that tempo. Now that international music is being integrated much more commonly into the pop mainstream I could play Sean Paul “Legalize It,” Daddy Yankee “Rompe” the Elephant Man, Pitbull remix of “Shake” and Rihanna’s “S.O.S.” (Hey she’s Caribbean!) and be playing radio hits while also sticking to the international theme. Welcome to the 21st century. Anjali absolutely killed it with her second set. Blazing Asian drum’n’bass up until an eclectic ending at 3am. Still with a floor of dancers. Quite a scene. Glad I was there to witness it.
Now I sign off and get started on my 2005 taxes. Let’s just say I have grocery sacks filled with receipts that I need to itemize. Last year it took me 20 some hours and I swore I would never get that far behind again. Ah well, looks like I know what I will be doing the next week. I hope everyone is well. Take care.
PS I just read the second collection of Warren Ellis’ Global Frequency. I like it way better than the first 6 issues, possibly because the art is far slicker. Love the kinetic harpoon episode.