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Posts Tagged ‘The Sullivan Street Shakedown’

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

(179 McDougal Street)

(w/ Higher Nebulae, D.V.S., & Orchard Lounge)

Show Pamplet

Show Pamplet

In my mind, I consider myself just beginning to learn about (and possibly appreciate) these late night NYC music scenes.  A scene where the music doesn’t start until 11:00pm, maybe.  A scene where, unless you asked for help, you can’t find the door to the establishment, a scene hidden under the bowels of the city streets.   I normally rage a live concert where the doors open at 6pm and the show start at 8pm.  And THEN, if I have the energy (if?…who are we kidding?), I end up in a dark and grimy basement venue for the remainder of the night.  Most of the time it’s because a friend has talked me into raging harder and not because I feel as though there will be true talent on a stage.  To me, these are the times to mingle and dance till your a puddle of water on the floor.  I have no idea what is going on music wise as…how do I put this….it doesn’t register to me as live music.  It just doesn’t.

Rage Equipment!

Rage Equipment!

Dj-ing is clearly an art.  Sampling music, producing sounds, splicing tunes, putting them back together like a puzzle.  I get it.  I can see the DJs gears working in my mind’s eye when I hear some of the get-down beats we dance too.  And when they rage, I stop dancing and I embrace the lift in the room’s energy, nodding my head in recognition that they just mixed a dope track that got the floor jumpin’.  So, I love it, don’t get me wrong.  I do dance into a puddle and I have fun but it’s not the same thing if it’s just a person and their turntables.  It doesn’t drag me in and make my jaw drop.

Now, take that atmosphere, with that talented puzzle maker and throw in a live instrument.  Like Break Science who has Adam Deitch on the drums bringing forth that extra layer that makes it intoxicating, or The Sullivan Street Shakedown, which combines DJs with numerous live instruments rotated each month.  It lies in the fact that it’s alive to me at that moment.  It’s organic.  I can see it being created.  Tonight, I would be enjoying the performance of Jeff Bujak and he brought me exactly what I needed to have my jaw drop.

Rage equipment!

Rage equipment!

The show was held at Club Love.  Never having been before, I immediately was drawn to the name, wondering what it must look like.  I imagined it being dimly lit, a loungy-vibe with bright tones like purples, yellows and reds.  Slightly Disco-esque with plush couches and anything you would find in a Austin Powers movie.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

With no sign to the establishment and the entrance being a door hidden by on of those large gate walls that businesses pull down when they close up shop, I only knew I was in the right spot thanks to the store owners around the area.  The show was to start at 10pm but I don’t think the doors even opened until 11pm.  I went across the street for a beer with the three other people foolish enough to come so early…see, I am still learning.

Rage Equipment!

Rage Equipment!

Upon entering Love, you head down the stairs into a dark, concrete floored, cavern-like basement and are forced either left or right.  If you choose right, you are met with the room that would be throwing us the get down grinds.  Probably holds about 250 (??) comfortably, one wall had bench style seating but that was it.  This was a room for dancing.  Period. There was a bar set up with caution tape around it, I assumed to give the waitress some room?  Flat out, not cool waitress.  I bought a $7 beer, gave her a $10 and she just ran with it.  When I asked her for my change, she was like “What? You want me to give you back 2 bucks?”  First of all, take a math course and Poor Service!!!  Seriously? Does it matter?  I used to be a waitress and I was a friggen princess even when I wanted to kill someone.  I will NEVER get used to the poor customer service practices in New York City.  There is TRULY nothing comparable in terms of shitty attitude .  Needless to say,  I was not amused.

Dancing and Hula Hooping

Dancing and Hula Hooping

There was no “stage” per say, just a portion of the floor that had been utilized for the equipment.  As well, there was an elevated portion that held the DJs booth.  I got to be sadly honest and admit that the front of the DJ booth was so high, I could barely see the tops of the DJ’s heads, let alone see them do their thing.  That made me sad.  But I am sure the rest of the world saw the Dj’s as they are all over 5 foot zero!!

If you took a left from Love’s entrance, you are taken to the restrooms, another bar and a separate room that looks cave-ish, like the walls were made of crappy styrafrom, the other walls were glass so that the patrons in the room were viewable from the bar area.  This room was for those who might need to take a rest from the intensity in the other room.  It is small but with stadium seating, more like concrete stairs.  It’s always good to have one of these rooms to retreat into when you have partied to hard.

Higher Nebulae started the night off with some dirty dance beats. There was some gospel layers and rock layers all with some deep whoomping bass.  When the bass beats were dropped we were given some familiar rock favorites and unexpected old school gems such as Metallica‘s “For Whom The Bell Tolls.”

D.V.S.

D.V.S.

Like I said, it’s hard for me to focus on the music when it’s just the DJs so I was wondering around trying to catch a buzz with the $10 beer in hand and attempting to get in the right frame of mind to dance into that puddle I was talking about.  The Banana Mafia was out in full force greeting what appeared to be half the venue who had come under his list.  He brought the energy, he brought in the dancers.  I appreciated that!  However, this Mafia member was without his Banana Suit?  Is that even allowed?  Am I supposed to be outing him over the internet?  Opps.  Either way, he raged all over that dance floor, as well as his friends, and we all had a blast together!!

D.V.S. was up next, his real name being Derek VanScoten.  Where as Jeff Bujak uses a piano to layer on top of his electronic beats, D.V.S. uses a Telecaster guitar.  I stopped my mingling and started focusing on D.V.S..  His music mixed Hip-hop, Soul and even Motown.  He sampled Jimi Hendrix‘s “Foxy Lady” and raged a great guitar during his samples.  He has recently toured as a solo artist supporting Ana Sia, Big Gigantic, Beats Antique, Boombox, Lynx & Janover, JFJO, and M80 Dubstation.  Honestly, not sure if I cared for him that much.  It didn’t do anything for me.

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

Let’s talk about Jeff Bujak, the man of the hour!  Duuuuude.  Having just discovered him earlier this summer at Rock The Resort, I was VERY eager to see him again live.  Jeff Bujak is a true musician.  A truly technically talented piano player who, from the moment I stepped foot into his performance at RTR, has had me hooked.  To me, when I listen to his music at home, Jeff reminds me of a mix between Tori Amos and Bruce Hornsby. I could come up with a ton of combination but seriously, his music is beautiful and quirky and demanding with organized chaos and it is all his own! He has coined his music “Intelligent Dance Music.”  Intriguing, no?

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

Jeff comes armed with everything needed to run his one-man show including light, sound, and smoke.  Cables and pedals everywhere, there is a laptop, a sound deck and his dual level keyboard at the helm of his personal electronic monster.  There is a row of lights above his left shoulder flashing us the light show in various colors and mixed to rage with the beat. His shoes were off and the show began.

The set list:

SET 1
Utopia > Kicker > Crowd > Machinist > Slimmy > Cascadation > Sunny’s Song* > PUTV > Mutator

* written by Benevento-Russo Duo (section of)

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

Utopia got it started with a synthesizer drop and a deep beat. Very quickly the layering of faster beats were released and right away it was a dance party.  His songs have catchy samples, this one, sampling Cake’s The Distance by using the lyrics “Reluctantly crouched at the starting line…”  After a while, amid the heavy beat of smashing cymbals, I feel a reggae vibe that quickly turns back into a deep electronic beat.

Kicker into Crowd brought us the classical, straight out gorgeous technical chamber piano skills that I adore him for.  These gorgeous notes layer over the rest of the dance worthy beats.  They are hit hard, there are sounds of electric guitars playing but I know that is Bujak manipulating the keys.  The sequenced drum loops made it sound like the drummer was in the room with us at times.  Then we got a little more of the pure keys, nothing manipulated, just beautiful piano sounds.  It’s a gorgeous mixture of electronic and organic.  I mean, there is just GORGEOUS composition amongst his hectic beats.

So, being that I am a romantic female, I found it to be just lovely music and I was pleased to see mainly men in that basement dancing.  In reality, I wondered if these wookies heard what I heard.  They were certainly dancing to the beats but I wonder if they realized just how good he sounded in that basement.  Club Love is rumored as having one of the best sound systems, so perhaps that helped.  There are parts of the songs that got so slow and so sensual.  Preferring to be a stand alone dancer at most shows I attend, it was my pleasure to dance intelligently with some dudes that night to this intelligent music.  A real pleasure. 😉

The music pierced my ear drums and so my ear plugs remained in the entire night.  I love my ear plugs because they helps break down the sounds and I can hear the music very clearly.  I recognized that I was in a grimy basement but being raised on Broadway shows and Classical theater and concerts, I was able to close my eyes and get thrown into the plush seats I imagined earlier.   The raging beats faded away and all I could hear was the gorgeous classical technical training he was throwing at us.

The music sounded like this (around 5:15ish mins he busts out the chamber piano):

But my mind would shut out parts and I would just hear something that sounded like this, beats faded away…just gorgeous:

Machinist is a song that amuses me. I imagine being at an Insane Clown Posse  or 311 show raging out and then Jeff layers some beautiful unmanipulated organized piano playing over it.  That is what does it for me.  I know I always say I love my horns, but I grew up listening to my father plays his piano every night after dinner while I cleared the table and did the dishes.  This fact also makes me overly critical towards keys players and I don’t have a single negative thing to say about Jeff’s work. It was a complete package, a complete pleasure.

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

Slimmy was mainly a synthesizer song and pretty sure I heard some Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller” in the mix.  It was HEAVY, deep, and a raging dance song.  This producer/composer really does delivers a vibrant sound so full of melodic energy it stirs even the most timid of dancers. No one was sitting. I make my way up to Jeff’s side, watching him play…oh the essence of a musician when they are in the zone.  Sometimes I swear can feel their energy radiate off them.  It’s what brings tears to my eyes sometimes.  We stand in the audience in love with these musician’s music but what we have to remember is they either love or hate what they are playing as well and you can fell it, you can see it.  The lights and the music and the venue were helping big time.  It was so beautiful and overwhelming.  One man was making all this happen.

I stepped outside for an adventure during Cascadation so I can’t tell you anything about that song. That is one you will just have to go and see to experience 🙂  I came back in towards the end of Sunny’s Song, partially written by Benevento-Russo Duo. Pretty, melodic, slower then the rest.  PUTV gave us a manipulated synthed start to the song with samplings from Eric B. & Rakim’s “Pump Up The Volume” gently layered on top of the rest of the tune.  He goes back and forth between the manipulated sounds and the organic sound the ivories make.  Again, the looped drum beats are stellar and fast forcing Bujak’s fingers to go full blast.

Mutator was last for the evening. To be honest, I wasn’t sure when one song ended or began.  My notes are full of lines where I believe one ends and another beings, arrows shooting up the page because I felt as if he had gone from one song to another and back again, not sure.  Sometimes it was clear and other times it was so well-played that if the change occurred, I had no clue where it was.

Here is the video I took of Jeff @ Club Love…sorry for the sound quality. I had my ear plugs in and it sounded GORGEOUS and crisp in my ear…you get the point 🙂

Orchard Lounge raged our faces off for the rest of the evening but I will have to review them another time.  Jeff was what had brought me here tonight. I had come with the intentions of leaving after Jeff’s set but there was NO WAY. Not only was I one of the first people to arrive that night, I ended up being one of the last people to leave.  Jeff hung out a bit and, when we weren’t dancing, I wandered with my dance partner, getting in to trouble here and there, totally full of energy.  It was a great night and all thank to Jeff….thanks Buj 🙂  Be sure to check out Jeff Bujak’s newest full-length released on Harmonized Records:  “Alive Like the Spine

And as I hit PUBLISH, the irony is not lost on me as I listen to my neighbor begin giving one of her lovely piano lessons…..life is magnificent!

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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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