I had a very ambitious plan this night, one that involved me bouncing back and forth between the Paramount and the Baltic Room to maximize my enjoyment on this uncharacteristically packed Thursday night. And like all great plans, this one failed to come to pass.
For both festival goers and casual attendees, the Paramount was definitely the place to be for tonight, drawing a crowd of all shapes, sizes and scenes. Amon Tobin was presenting his ISAM light/laser/cube/music show for the first time in the US, and previews indicated that this might be a once-in-a-lifetime type event. The opening lineup was no slouch either—LA’s Tokimonsta put out one of my favorite records of last year and her associations with FlyLo’sBrainfeeder collective make her a name to watch.
By the time I had arrived Tokimonsta was already in full swing, spinning a genre-spanning mix that included some big-D dubstep, hip-hop, house, and everything in between. And it wouldn’t be West Coast without some insanely trippy visuals, which she provided in full. The one segment with the cut-and-paste animals was downright frightening. And I hadn’t even had a drink yet.
However, unlike most of the people present at the venue, my most anticipated act the festival was not to be at the Paramount. Bok Bok and his Night Slugs label had been tickling my aesthetic for a long while, and though the draw of Amon Tobin’s visual spectacular was strong I was determined to catch as much of the Baltic Room’s Night Slugs Showcase as humanly possible. The crowd at first was predictably miniscule, especially compared to the already half-full Paramount. Nonetheless, Monolithium was in top form, mixing material from his label mates with contemporary house and shaken-and-stirred R&B. By the time he closed with a sped up remix of Cam’ron’s “Family Ties,” I knew I had chosen wisely.
Kingdom seamlessly took the reins and kept the party going, going into his own transmogrified mixture of R&B, hip-hop and little-d dubstep. I kept checking my watch, wondering when I would muster up the willpower to break free from this party and make my way down the hill. Unfortunately, this point never came. Night Slugs was just too much fun.
By the time Girl Unit took the stage I was already committed to staying. The Baltic Room was full and the party was live; everyone was dancing like the world was ending. At that moment I would’ve traded a thousand soul nights for just one more Night Slugs showcase. By the time Girl Unit played “Wut” Amon Tobin had become a faint memory.
Luckily for the rest of the Paramount attendees, it wasn’t until AmonTobin had wrapped up before Night Slugs founder and DJ Bok Bok took his turn. In addition to playing his own jams, he took the liberty of digging into his the rest of his label’s catalogue, playing songs from comrades such as Jam City (my personal favorites). You would never think that at off-kilter tune like “Magic Drops” would get a crowd hooting and hollering, but never underestimate the power of good music.
The mood and the attitude of both the acts and the crowd really show a quality that’s rare in any city, at any festival. A lot of this music is so personalized; it takes real effort sometime to dig up some of these singles. And to find a packed house of like-minded people all giving themselves freely to jam after jam, that’s heaven on earth. Everybody has a night of their own at Decibel; Night Slugs was mine.