I usually blog about design and architecture for Art and Culture but in this era of pop/rock/country/hip-hop recycled musical mediocrity I'm always looking for original sounds. Here's a post on a cross-continent music scene that connects a club in Los Angeles to a London dj.
Traveling north out of Chinatown on the edge of downtown L.A. brings you to one of the original working class suburbs- Lincoln Heights. There is a club on the main street of this now largely hispanic neighborhood that features dubstep every wednesday night - Low End Theory at the Airliner.
At Low End Theory, a weekly club night for experimental hip-hop and electronica artists at the Airliner in Lincoln Heights, there is one square foot of standing room where the music sounds perfect. To get there, patrons must climb a stairwell that opens onto a bleak stretch of Broadway Avenue, be frisked by a bouncer, proceed to the middle of the dance floor, which is almost always humid with body heat, then walk exactly 12 feet back from the stage and wait for the bass. ¶ "We wired the P.A. setup so that's the spot where the 20hz frequency is strongest," said Kevin Marques Moo, a record label owner and DJ who co-founded Low End Theory three years ago. He pointed to the dance floor and grinned. "I love that feeling, the face melt." ¶ Any time spent in that one-square-foot space listening to the music, which is mostly instrumental and rooted in hip-hop, will prove Moo is not kidding about the power of the 10,000-watt hand-curated sound system. But even more than bass, Low End Theory and the uniquely Angeleno scene around it -- which includes such rising artists as the Glitch Mob, Flying Lotus, Nosaj Thing and Daedelus -- is about intersections.
It’s a completely incredible place. I visited for the first time in January because even an ocean away I’d heard so much about it. I had to go there; it literally was stepping across the threshold to enter some utopia. The way that [Daddy] Kev and the residents book is very much on a parallel with what I want to do on the Radio One show. We’re kindred spirits. The musicians there have so much energy and originality and have such a complete disregard for genre.
What I saw was an incredible surge of energy and momentum, the way I felt towards the end of 2005 and 2006 when Dubstep started to take off. I thought it would only be a small handful of producers, but I was totally overwhelmed. The crowd was incredibly intelligent and hungry for music and clued in. It was the single greatest club experience I’ve ever had. I’ll never forget it on my dying day. (full interview: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/music_blog/2009/09/tonight-mary-anne-hobbs-at-low-end-theory.html)
This wednesday is Galapagos4. Wherever you live you can experience Low End Theory by downloading guest dj's sets from the clubs website: http://www.lowendtheoryclub.com/theclub.html.
Also listen to Mary Anne Hobbes BBC Radio 1 show here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/maryannehobbs/