Three days, three crazy gigs. Friday Anjali and I DJed a Holi day party for the South Asian Student Association at Reed College. Saturday was a free Anjali and The Kid party at XV, and today was the twice-yearly membership drive edition of our monthly KBOO show. Thank you to everyone who called and and renewed their KBOO membership or became a new member. Double thanks to Fritzman for double-pledging during the same show! Too much. Thanks to all of you we made our goal and sent KBOO a message that the community values the kind of South Asian programming we offer on our show. It is thanks to people like you becoming members that KBOO is the longest-running community radio station in the country!
Friday was the debut of The Incredible Kid and DJ Anjali at Reed College. I used to sneak on to campus to see all sorts of great shows (Stereolab, Versus, etc.) back in the day, and here we were performing on the same stage as Sun Ra did back in the day. Not sure what the students were expecting but we gave them a fair amount of Bollywood sprinkled with some hard bhangra. There was a Nepali guy requesting Panjabi music but I’m not sure I knew exactly what he had in mind. Only after the gig did I realize that I had played mostly older filmi songs from the ’90s and early ‘OOs as opposed to my usual 2004-2007 range. The only request was for recent hit “Beedi” so maybe I should have played more recent. Ah well, people danced, didn’t complain, what more do you want? Kids were covered in colors when we got there so the typical wet, gray Oregon weather didn’t keep people from getting their Holi on. Thank you to Christian for being such a great host and Abhi for guiding our car through the campus.
Saturday was our gig at XV. It’s been a while since we’ve played there and the owner wanted the two of us back. He’s been striving for a more eclectic international music vibe at the club, hosting Gypsymania nights and such. I found a message board post online by the booking agent complaining about this new direction for the club. She wrote about how much better hip-hop does for the club on the weekend. I have played at XV many times both one-offs and regular nights, on my own, and with Anjali. In my experience the people who came to dance were most certainly after the most mainstream overplayed songs imaginable. The booking agent’s post mentioned that an international-themed Satuday night at the club recently had done half the business that a normal hip-hop one would. Knowing that the booking agent wasn’t thrilled about this new direction and that it would probably be her and not the owner who was there most of the night, I was less than thrilled going into the night. Going into a situation where you know you are not wanted is never fun. We loaded in and set up our equipment only to discover that half of our dual CD player had died. One thing people don’t realize is that most international music is not pressed on vinyl. The last vinyl records in India were pressed in 1989. There is some current UK bhangra vinyl available, but the pressing quality is awful, with up to 50 minute sides, when more than 20 is never going to sound good. We usually bring vinyl to our gigs but 90% of our hottest stuff is only available on CD. So if we are hired to play international music it will be a mostly CD set, unless we are playing oldies. Seeing that only one CD deck was working meant that every other song was going to have to be a record, whether we wanted it to be or not. Like I said, 90% of our hottest stuff is only available on CD so I knew it would be a tough night of keeping the dance floor packed while having to spend 50% of the time picking from what few tracks are available on vinyl. To make matters worse it was clear that there were definitely people in attendance who wanted to dance to something very different than what we were presenting.
After having a few people in my face I instantly flashbacked to memories of just how mainstream the taste of many of the dancers there is. Normally we could have played hip-hop for these people all night. However, I knew the XV owner specifically wanted to go in an international as opposed to hip-hop direction (never mind that a lot of what we play is international hip-hop). Because I knew this was his concept, I wouldn’t have felt good playing mainstream hip-hop even if there were requests from the crowd for this sort of stuff. We managed to keep people dancing all night, but I felt like I worked hard enough to earn five times as much money as I did by the end of the gig. As much as DJs will tout the superiority of vinyl (Hey, I love the stuff myself, or I wouldn’t have a house filled to the rafters with it.) the records kept skipping from all the active dancers, while the CDs never did. Even though I had the weight of the needle set as vinyl-destroyingly heavy as possible to try to keep it from jumping out of the groove. Thank you so much to Miko and the Hot Lips crew for being such positive supporters. It really helps to have enthusiastic friends there when you know that much of the crowd and staff at a gig is probably not that into your sound.
Sunday was a long day of work interrupted by our monthly KBOO show. Thanks again to everyone who supported our show. We’ll try to keep it entertaining in the future. Take care ya’ll.