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The Sullivan Street Shakedown

The Sullivan Street Shakedown: Five, Eight, Forty A Celebration Of Photographer Matthew Fitzgerald’s Birthday XL

The Sullivan Street Shakedown: Five, Eight, Forty

Once a month at Sullivan Hall, a group of DJs, instrumentalists and special guests grace the stage to bring New York City what is inspired to become one of the city’s most raging dance parties through the promotion of community and love.  It is simply called The Sullivan Street Shakedown.

Sullivan Hall ( Photo by   Adam McCullough)
Sullivan Hall ( Photo by Adam McCullough)

Tonight, The Sullivan Street Shakedown: Five, Eight, Forty was to be a musical celebration of photographer Matthew Fitzgerald.  What is more fun than spending your birthday surrounded by your friends dancing to wonderful music?  Nothing.  Matthew Fitzgerald has been a fixture on the scene for many years and is credited with “breathing life into and moving the careers of every performer” who performed this night.

(Photo by  John Ewing)
(Photo by John Ewing)

For the rest of us, it was a chance to see new collaborations, to see members from one of our favorite bands cross boundaries into other musical genres and to see the third installment of a wonderful musical idea from Philly make its way to our fair NYC.  Tonight specifically, Will Swank from the Motet was accompanying The Shakedown and I was pretty pumped about that.

Over the course of our meeting, I have been able to gain some wonderful knowledge about the project and The Shakedown scene from the man himself, Mikey Beatz:

I throw the party monthly.  I spin a set and invite new guest DJ(s) each month to headline.  Maybe I ask someone to play some auxiliary percussion or [I ask] a sax player to come and jam a bit.

DJ Nutritious (Photo by Phrazz)

DJ Nutritious (Photo by Phrazz)

It’s actually quite involved as The Shakedown itself is a party that started in Philly 8 years ago, and is one of the most highly regarded of its kind in the world. Now the originators of The Shakedown in Philly have blessed us with the opportunity to bring The Shakedown into NYC.  I’m working to help NYC see the potential in The Shakedown.  You should see what our brothers and sisters are doing in Philly and you can witness the potential that we have to truly create something “brotherly & loving” in NYC.

All the guests change each month. Some of it depends on who I’m collaborating with at the moment, some of it depends which DJs in our business network happen to be around and want to play.  We also receive a lot of inquiries from domestic and international booking agents trying to get their artists on our party.

Let the Shakedown begin…I attended a wonderful little pre-game with some pals on the Lower East Side and we made our way to our respective shows on the West.  For them it was The Melvin Sparks Band at The Blue Note and for me I anticipated to be a night of raging improv and dancing!  There would be no set list tonight.  A night of imagination, knowledge, talent, technicality and improvisation.  No matter what, it would be music and it would be lovely.

That’s the thing about improv! You can’t be afraid to make a miracle or a mistake…it’s that beautiful 🙂 We’ve been listening to videos and recordings and we’ve amazed ourselves…so fun 🙂 ~ Zoe Wilder

Settin' Up The Shakedown
Settin’ Up The Shakedown

I got there pretty early, around 11:30pm.  Met the beautiful Zoe Wilder, her pink eyeshadow and bright outfit a direct extension of her vibrant personality.  Met the birthday boy and we had a little photo shoot amongst friends.  The stage was busy with activity.  Plugging things in here, moving tables there.  The music didn’t actually begin until around 12:30am.  However, when the musicians hit the stage, the sounds escaped from them as if they were ready to make us move all day.  The artists who comprised the stage that night were (and I don’t dare try to describe them better then they describe themselves):

Ed of PsychLab (Photo by S & D Photography)

Ed of PsychLab (Photo by S & D Photography)

DrumLab:
The duo of Steve Asaro (Roland TD-20 V-Drums / Electronics) and Ed (techno wizardry) of the famous psychedelic / live electronic band Psylab.  DrumLab breaks it down into the strictly twisted dub elements of Psylab‘s mastery and paves new ground with what can be done with a set of e-drums and lots of SUBS.

People In Charge:
Added to the sonic mix is the collaboration of rotating People In Charge musical guests – the opportunity for producers to rock their instruments live on stage rather than behind the recording console. On this night, Mikey Beatz (drums), David Blitzer (bass), and Zoe Wilder (vocals) team with DrumLab to turn the party on its head.

(Photo by S & D Photography)

(Photo by S & D Photography)

DJ Viz:
Or Vizzie, the techno technician of Psylab fame, rocks the 1’s and 2’s, strictly vinyl, for an exploration and elaboration of the world’s finest Dub-Step and Drum & Bass. Viz is a sub-bass gourmand, so be ready to feel it in your gut.

Will Swank:
Swank brings with him years of touring experience with The Motet and a background in subterranean Jazz that stands the test with history’s most legendary saxophone players. Will rocks a growling tenor and phrases lines like he’s painting the future in ancient poetry.

Nutritious:
Is a DJ… and he rocks the shit out of parties.

Zoe Wilder (Photo by S & D Photography)

Zoe Wilder (Photo by S & D Photography)

David Blitzer:
Bass player, used to play for the band called The Uptowns.

Zoe Wilder:

ZW has shared many a stage but, most infamous for her collaborations with Psylab and the New Deal.  Possibly most remembered for her shadow dancing performance at main-stage Camp Bisco 6, Wilder’s scheming something xxx-tra provocative for Five Eight Forty so, abre los ojos.

VJ Mamiko Kushida:
Mami should need no introduction but, new to the States after rockin Japan’s biggest events for years, Mamiko’s the most bad-ass VJ here. She’s one part kunoichi, one part Foxy Brown – she’ll super-fly slice-you and you’ll thank her for it.

Sullivan Street Shakedown
Sullivan Street Shakedown
Images by VJ Mamiko Kushida (Photo by: Jp Pacquing)
Images by VJ Mamiko Kushida (Photo by: Jp Pacquing)

The sounds that escaped the stage were a combination of organic and mechanical.  At times, only a few members would rage, then the entire group.  They stepped in when the powers moved them.  A beauty of improv.  As the music played, to the left of the stage was a screen that was had fabulous images being cast upon it.  The images cast on the screen were manipulated and inspired by VJ Mamiko Kushida. They were vivid, dream like, malleable.  Over the last 5 years, since she was in Japan, Mami has been creating and collecting these images.  Currently, her collection tops out at over 800 images and at performances she picks and mixes from her collection as the music moves her.  What a wonderful expression of love through music.

Ragers @ The Sullivan Street Shakedown (Photo by Phrazz)
Ragers @ The Sullivan Street Shakedown (Photo by Phrazz)

Around 1:30 am the crowd started to get pretty thin.  Ironically, there might have been more photographers there at one point then dancers.  But the beat was BUMPIN’ and the people were groovin’.  One thing that was made evidently clear to me within minutes of the show beginning was that this scene was dripping with potential to be an all out rager when it came to the late night crowd.  There was funk, rock n roll, jazz…we just needed that crowd to shuffle in.

The Sullivan Street Shakedown (Photo by Phrazz)

The Sullivan Street Shakedown (Photo by Phrazz)

When Will Swank and Gregg Marcus joined the stage, I was immediately drawn in by the oh so jazzy horns.   Sporadically, the horns would sound off, intersecting with the beats and groans of the electronic fiddling and Mikey’s drumming.  At one point, the sounds layered over the beat reminded me of whales singing.  I believe this was due to Gregg Marcus manipulating his trumpet with a plunger.  That mess sounded AWESOME!  I would love to hear the play back during this time.  It was all so intersecting and fun.  I distinctly remember being taken over by it and shuffling across the open dance floor without a care in the world.  In my notes taken from that night, I had scribbled “dancing with the whales.”  Honestly, I absolutely didn’t need anyone else in the venue to enjoy myself that night.  I glance at my notes as I type this and there are a bunch of smiles all over the page.  Clearly, I was happy.

(Photo by Scott Rudd)

(Photo by Scott Rudd)

Will Swank and Zoe Wilder (Photo by Phrazz)

Will Swank and Zoe Wilder (Photo by Phrazz)

Layered on top of the electric rage, I loved the horns.  I am a horn lover.  Biased as all hell.  Their addition to any project is a plus in my mind.  I absolutely loved the horns over this style of music and mixing.  Will Swank was so jazzy and obscene against the heavy bass beat of space at times.  The room was filled with a very loungey vibe.  I felt like I needed to be seated at a intimate table with appetizers and a date.  And as the horns raged, the beat picked back up with Mikey banging out the drums,  creating new beats around every corner forcing the music to change with him.   I loved it.  Amelia was dancing around the room, lending her energy to those who were not dancing, which was only a choice few.  The music was forceful in it’s ability to have us dancing.

Sullivan Street Shakedown

Sullivan Street Shakedown

Throughout the performance, artists rotated instruments.  At one point Ed had left his machines to go play with Mikey’s tables.  Boys and their toys!  Such a beauty about improvisation.  The musicians possibly had on bigger smiles then the audience.  They were having FUN! I felt it, I saw it, and I heard it.  To me, what was happening on that stage was the essence of live music.

Ed of Psychlab

Ed of Psylab

As Ed and Mike’y were throwing us the “getdown” music,  VJ Mima was flashing the screen with black and white images that look to have been drawn with pencil and had come to life.  All the while, Zoe Wilder would come and go from the stage as she pleased, dancing for the audience, or perhaps just herself, in any way the music moved her.  I imagined what her Wonderland must be like up there as the black lights reflecting off her vivid outfit and her pink eyes lit up the stage.

Rage!

Rage!

I stepped out for some fresh air and more fun friendly photo shots ensued.  Walking back in, I distinctly remember walking into a GREAT beat and jam.  Zoe put her voice through a chaos machine, the trumpets would tease, the “untz-untz” of the bass shook my legs.  It was fun as hell.  Exactly what it was meant to be.  I LOVED what was happening on stage at this moment and immediately felt a little pain in my chest knowing that I wouldn’t be able to ask the title of the song.  Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to go home and find it on Youtube…it was all improv and they had won me over.

Happy Birthday! (Photo by S & D Photography)

Happy Birthday! (Photo by S & D Photography)

I believe the best part of the night was when the birthday boy was finally recognized.  Zoe brought out the cake as Matthew made his way to the front of the stage where Zoe playfully wiped icing on his nose after he blew out the candle.  Just look at that smile above! LOVE!!

Sullivan Street Shakedown

Sullivan Street Shakedown

Towards the end of their set, the sounds got bleek and deep.  I wanted more from the horns but the mechanical side of things had picked up.  The manipulations of sounds with knobs, buttons, pedals, microphones, etc.  This is a new type of music for me and so I wish I could get more technical in my writing.  So used to “instruments”.   Not sure how I define the word “instrument” anymore with all the technology that has saturated certain genres.  The sounds coming off the stage were as lovely as they were intense.  Very chill music.  The horns stood alone and the beat was slow.

Sullivan Street Shakedown (Photo by Phrazz)

Sullivan Street Shakedown (Photo by Phrazz)

The Blue Note crew came after their show just in time for cake.  Music, cake, friends…and a smiling birthday boy.  So much more then a typical weekend show, this was an event respecting someone’s life on Earth.  SO much love in that.  SO much.  I felt it all night and the music on stage vibrated it through us into the wee morning hours.  At the base of it, this was a low maintenance dance party with a focus on soulful house music.

Mikey Beatz

Mikey Beatz

Mikey Beatz has surrounded himself with vibrant talented musicians.  He has seen the unique opportunity he has been given of crossing live music with electronic.  Aside from being a talented musician himself, it is his appreciation and addition of other talented musicians that makes The Sullivan Street Shakedown stand out.  I encourage anyone in the NYC area to come check this project out and to join us in spreading the word of The Sullivan Street Shakedown.

NEXT MONTH’S EVENT INFORMATION FOR

Please join all of for next month’s installation of The Sullivan Street Shakedown with:.

DJ Monchan (Dailysession)
Chris Hall (Stupendous Music)
Visuals by Mamiko Kushida
Percussion by Stephen Chopek
Special Guest: ElaNEF
And your resident selector: Nutritious

Date: 06/19/10 (technically 6/20)
Time: 12:30am – 4am
Cost: $5 RSVP to: local@spinspinnyc.com
Ages: 18+
Location: Sullivan Hall, 214 Sullivan Street, NYC
Trains: A,B,C,D,E,F,V to W. 4th
Contact: party@spinspinnyc.com
Web: www.sullivanhallnyc.com // www.spinspinnyc.com
Phone: SpinSpinNYC @ 347-875-SPIN

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