Before Daedelus’ performance Friday night, I’d never really understood “underground” when describing a show. I’ve listened to underground music. I had been a fan of Daedelus’ Exquisite Corpses, and recently, became a fan of Free the Robots. I never before had to search for a music venue down a dark dead end alley, which was marked by a couple of beef cakes in black suits. Quizzically, like an innocent doe I asked them, “Is this 103 Harriet.” This is underground?
“Yes, what do you need,” the beef cake barked at me. I didn’t need a password. After they found my name on the list, I entered the club which was located above a club I had previously been. I asked someone in the crowd, Free the Robots had just begun. Having previewed online videos of their performance I expected to see a duo, but only producer, Chris Alfaro performed for most of the set. He was great. The music is both danceable, and sonically challenging. Rhythms revolving loosely around hip hop transformed into galactic trips similar to Ratatat. This was the highlight of evening, as were my attempts to C-walk to the music. No, I don’t have any gang affiliation– I just think the dance is cool and wish I could be on “Pimp My Ride.”
James Pants followed. The Stone Throws DJ, whose rotation of old classics from rock to boogie to Golden Era hip hop created a perfect segue between the heavily electronic sounds of the two other DJs. His style reminds me of DJ Neil Armstrong, as both DJ select gems through genres, creating seamless mixes like perfect swirls of chocolate and vanilla ice cream. As compared to the unanimated Free the Robots, James Pants became a part of his musical performance almost half hazard. While physically dancing, James Pant actively tried to involve the crowd by vocally emphasizing hooks, shouting, and being somewhat obnoxious in a fun way (though my friend was annoyed).
As Daedelus set up his Monome box (pictured above), it was clear of the three DJ he understood what it takes to perform. Dressed in a ruffled white shirt, with a thin tie, and wearing a suit jacket, Daedelus, better know as Alfred Darlington, has a presence and allure. Daedelus use of the Monome box could be extremely boring. He’s just pressing buttons. Like his embellished style, as Daedelus performs he over emphasizes his hand movements, creating a mystique that he’s pushing the buttons really fast, and it’s a workout (though I imagine most of his sweat was from the suit and tie).
Watching these three was like a lesson in DJ evolution. It’s fitting their tour is called “The Future.” Each DJ provided their take on a growing development, the electronic DJ. DJing and turntablism is still a new art form. Approximately thirty years ago Grandmaster Flash made the “wicky wicky” noise. You know, the “wicky wicky” noise from scratching a record back and forth. The original style of a DJ manipulating two turntables, while not obsolete, has grown with the development of drum machines, Mp3s, synthesizers, Monome box, and a gang of other gizmos. While their music isn’t club DJ dance friendly, each DJ has a flare worth seeing, because they’re “the future.”