Concert Review Part Two
By John Ray
The next day I received a call from my friend Spec early in the afternoon asking me if I wanted to go to a secret Claude Vonstroke show that night. I, after some consternation, said of course and the confusion began. One of the many aspects of the LA concert landscape are the online event registrations required to get you into the event. The event’s promoter “cheesecake” had put up an RSVP page on their website and encouraged all goers to sign up and arrive before 11 to get in for free. The event’s address was supposed to be secret and only released in the RSVP emails. Unfortunately, only half of my party got the emails and they didn’t get them until 1 hour before the event. This was a minor calamity that resulted in a facebook thread on Claude Vonstroke’s page turning into a massive “where is my email, where is the location-off”. Vonstroke himself released the location at 8. It was on S Anderson Street in East LA, which essentially means that it was going to be a warehouse event. This definitely added to the atmosphere. Warehouse parties are supposed to be cool, we were going to one, ergo: we are cool, that makes sense right?
Once we got there the venue was proper hidden. We knocked on a small-gated door, which a guy opened while saying “are you guys ready to party”. I was into it at the time. Inside there was none of the glitz and glam of Los Globos. The warehouse affected more of a DIY aesthetic with its concrete walls and floors, wooden shoddily assembled bar and beaming, and interesting couches. Justin Jay was on the tables, but truthfully I don’t remember a lot of his set other than it being nice and bouncy. That’s always a good way to start the evening.
The next artist up was the widely maligned Destructo, or Gary Richards, or as I kept calling him for some reason despite not knowing him “Gary”. Fortunately, for all fans of aural magic, “Gary” has improved a lot. He was lost and now he is found. Richards was once the owner of “HARD” the events company that took electronic music in the US by storm in 2009, put on some of the best US events in the past three years, and ushered in the genre’s move to the mainstream in many ways. At almost every HARD event Richards put himself on the billing and played a terrible set that resulted in everyone leaving the dancefloor and saying something to the effect of “that was cool, but who does that Destructo asshole think he is” This past summer, Richards sold the company to Jay-Z’s LiveNation for a cool 5 million, a signal of the value the brand had created, and his rapid improvement since becoming a full-time DJ signals either the end of some pact with the Devil or that he had never before been a full time DJ. His transitions are better now, he doesn’t do gimmicky “rock the crowd” things, and he’s simply playing better songs. One such song from Saturday was a remix of Dillon’s “Thirteen Thirtyfive”, which turned the rather sweet song into a hard hitter on the dance floor. I’ve spent these past couple days trying to figure out if it was the Lee Foss & MK remix, the Nico Pusch bootleg, or something entirely different. Stop guarding your tracklist Gary. I want to know. Hit me up.
The concrete floors of the space were quickly becoming lined with little toes, big boots, and high heels, and the anticipation for one of American electronic music’s legends was palpable. Claude Vonstroke released his debut album in 2006, but first released material in 2003. At just 10 years of experience he has strangely become one of the veterans in the birth and death cycle that has defined the American scene. And his label, Dirtybird, has become one of the most progressive and experimental in house music. Once he appeared on stage it was evident he was a class above all the other acts we had seen that weekend (even if the annoying fog machine kind of made it hard to see). What defines Vonstroke is his ability to play excellent textbook house, hint at repetition and boredom after a couple songs, and then play a completely unique track that really captivates the audience and does justice to the songs played before it. Two of the tracks that really cut through were his own “Vocal Chords”, a happy-go-lucky song of tropical synths that is unlike almost anything else you would hear in a deep house set, and Waze and Odyssey’s remix of R. Kelly’s “Bump N Grind” which is just out of control when placed properly in the middle of a set. Vonstroke instantly catapulted himself into a rarified section of my “I’m going to see this person when they come to Los Angeles list”. Kill Frenzy was still to come, but our night was capped and it was 02:30 so we decided to hightail it to get back to Claremont around 04:00 (which we hit on the dot).
Both nights stood out as beacons of what the cities electronic events can and should be, despite their opposing aesthetics. Hope to see you out next time.