Tonight in Music: DJ Rob Swift, Big Freedia, and morePosted by Joe Gustav
Tonight is one for the originators. Pay your respects at Nectar to DJ Rob Swift, one of hip-hop’s premiere turntablists. For the most diehard Seattle sports fan, the name Rob Swift may conjure memories of a certain lanky ginger the Sonics wasted a lottery pick on who blew out his knees or shoulders or something important. For everybody else, the name is synonymous with helping morph spinning and scratching records into an art form.
And yes, art it is. A founding member of seminal NYC DJ collective the X-Ecutioners, Swift continues to push his craft forward, incorporating new sounds and making the sound of doing harm to vinyls never sweeter. His later LP, The Architect, is a true headphones record. The hisses and pops that MP3s can never make mix with classical strings and orchestral swirls to create an atmospheric listening experience. It is a dense, moody record, but do not expect his performance to be another shoegaze show with hipsters standing immobile, arms folded. While MC means “move the crowd,” DJs are the ones that truly hold the tool to get the audience buzzing. In Swift’s hands, the 1’s and 2’s are an instrument, one he has honed to perfection. Laptop DJs pay close attention: this kind of thing takes real skill.
Hop across town for something a little — actually, a lot — different at Neumos. The “Queen Diva” of bounce music, Big Freedia is one of the originators of what mainstream media has pegged “sissy bounce,” a term those involved in the scene despise. Bounce is a frenetic, hyper-sexual brand of hip-hop from New Orleans that involves drumlines careening at break-neck speed and minimalist raps pared down to call and responses, often about rear ends. You can hear its influence in late 90s No Limit and Cash Money albums.
What separates sissy bounce from plain old bounce is not much at all musically. Instead, it’s all about gender. In a genre known for spurning homosexuality, gays have found acceptance in bounce music, a sound originating in gritty projects since destroyed by Katrina. Cross dressing abounds, as does a general blurring of the lines of gender (Freedia is genetically male but is always referred to as a she) in the name of pure, glorious, obscene sexuality — Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” has got nothing on some of Freedia’s most explicit and fun work.
Freedia, and sissy bounce in general, has experienced a resurgence, in large part due to acts like Spank Rock that make tastelessly awesome party rap in the name of a good time. Her live shows have sold out around the country and left sweaty debauched masses in their wake, ones with equal ratios straight and gay attendees. If the free spirits and partial nudity of a typical night at Neighbours make you blush, loosen up or just stay the hell away from Neumos tonight. Freedia demands and deserves nothing less than an audience eager to rock out with whatever body parts they have.