De La Soul's "Eye Know" was wafting out onto the street as I walked into a pretty empty Green Room. Like a bourgeois living room, there's a two-story open space with balcony views from all angles, chandelier hanging dead center, some Pier one style bric-a-brach and a bunch of white curtains. It's not really the sewer you'd expect to find the Das guys in, but the clean, wood flooring had the bass bouncing around the room like invisible dodgeballs.
The very talented DJ Immortal was behind the turntables onstage keeping the slowly arriving guests on a throwback set. Busta Rhymes' "Gimme Some More" followed... It was like they were really pushing a '90s theme for the headliners.
I took a spot on an empty sofa and focused on the Jamaican gangster film, Shottas, whcih was projected on screen behind the stage. I went to junior high with the lead guy in the film. Is this what flashback shows are for? The film, like memories, had a glitchy treatment, and I remembered a bunch of people that I'd forgotten about from the era and how it'd been a while since I'd felt that excitement of picking up Brand Nubian's One for All, when it seemed like nothing could touch it. Then Pete Rock and CL Smooth's "T.R.O.Y." came on serendipitously.
DJ Klassik got behind the turntables and announced his "journey through music." Though I enjoyed the dissolving multimedia treatment and ADD pace that he slid through tracks with. I thought it had a sloppy start, sounding like the fader was never totally here or there. I saw people start to groove to a song only to have the next song's beat just clash and stop them in mid-dance move. Klassik's set started with a film sample from "I Believe," The Five Heart Beats, and ultimately moved from Arrested Development to Jackson 5, Rah Digga to Jay Z. I wasn't really into it, but it totally lost me with Tom Jones' "It's not Unusual" set to Fresh Prince of Bell Air's Carlton dance.
The dance floor for this set consisted of the "happy hour- spillover" guy that ended up getting his triple-vision tossed out the side door by security less than an hour later and another dude with a tad more self-control who took his spot as the early cheerleader, helicoptering his towel before he'd eventually take off his shirt and do what looked like a Homer Simpson floor spin.
DJ Immortal returned to back opener Donnybrocs whose quick set was a blur of crotch grabbing punctuation, biceps, and black clothes. After his set, the DJ announced, "Coming soon to the stage: Das Efx." I'd been hearing this since 11 p.m. and was getting tired of the waiting game. Das Efx made their way on stage shortly after 1:30 a.m. and everyone woke the fuck up and packed up closer to the stage. After 20-plus years, Dray and Skoob are bonafide experienced showmen, engaging the crowd with incredible energy and spirit.
My mood bubble burst when Dray imitated my crossed arm stance on stage never missing a syllable. They shared a best-of run to a enthusiastic crowd of about 80 committed fans with songs including Mic Checka, Jussummen, Looseys, and tracks they guested on w/ KRS One and Ice Cube.
Finally, they wrapped with their hit "They Want EFX," and it was a celebration. As tired as I was, I was wrapped up in the crowd's smiling ruckus supporting the milestone track.
This was no throwback show, Flatbill hats off to Brown Bag Wednesdays for throwing the kind of party that was a revelation to the resilience of real hip-hop and the kind of show that was definitely worth losing sleep over.
DJ Immortal - 2011 DMC Online World Finals Bonus Video