Low End Theory: EXILE ‘Radio’ Release Party
Low End Theory is my new and improved Wednesday night ritual where I witness the future of sound is being born, a bass-heavy, hip-hop flavored night with an excitable crowd and mad talented music makers coming through each week. And the resident DJs? Ah, Nobody. As in DJ Nobody, Daddy Kev, THE MOTHERFUCKING GASLAMP KILLER who I am in LOVE with, D-Styles, and the AMAZING MC, Nocando.
Last night was the release party for Exile’s new album, “Radio,” and plenty of other talent was performing as well: Aloe Blacc, Blu, DJ Day, Johaz, Milo1 and Kutmah. The venue, the Airliner, is unassuming- an impression which continues even when you walk inside. Just your usual divey bar, selling tacos and feather hair adornments. But then you push your way through to the back of the bar and a little hallway leads you outside where a whole other world opens up, a throbbing, lurching, smoking, yelling, teeming, booty-humping dance floor of humans. And last night was hip hop-head heaven.
Partially open to the starry LA sky, the stage area is covered by what this Texas girl can only call a barn, with a wavy tin roof over thick wooden beams. The open air means people can smoke, and they do: menthols, cigars, and whatever else they want.
Upstairs and inside is smaller bar and room with a killer sound system and another DJ. Last night Nobody was laying down tracks that I have listened to a dozen times in my car but have never heard played out. Gotta love that! A chill balcony overlooks the main stage below, but it is on the slick upstairs dance floor where all the real dancers gather, as the mob downstairs is too thick to fully get your dance on. The pop-and-lockers, the robots, and the break dancers all gather in this upper room and take turns showing off next to a wall of swirling visuals.
Now I can be a good dancer. I know this, because gay boys always want to dance with me. But these guys and girls last night put me to shame. TO SHAME. Those fat boys straight blew my mind; I was amazed by their dexterity as well as the sheer physicality of their moves. Where can I learn how to spin on my neck?
I am here in LA where I know very few people, surrounded by strangers who are better than me. People who are smarter, funnier, more stylish, better dancers, better writers, getting down more- ah okay, nobody was getting down more than me. One dancing freak even came up and said, damn girl, YOU GET DOWN! No shit, Hello my name is Shilo, and I came to get down. I did not come to this party or this life to stand around and watch things go by and try to look cool.
It is intimidating for sure, but when you are surrounded by such mad amounts of talent, it makes you want to be better. To improve your game. It’s easier to surround yourself with people who are a bit lesser in order to feel superior, smarter, faster. But when you look around and see others doing their thing, doin’ it and doin’ it and doin’ it well, it makes you want to rise up and be more yourself.
I am a tiny fish in a giant pond, which is hard for a girl like me. But I just keep in my brain a little secret: fish grow to the size of their pond. I left last night a better dancer, because I had been surrounded by people who were better than me.
But before I left, I went down to that pulsating mass of people down on the big dance floor and pushed my way to the very front. My small size means I rarely have a good view of the stage, but it also means I can weave my way to the front of any dance floor past elbows and dirty looks from girls. Why the hatin’, ladies? I don’t want your Gomer of a man with the trying-too-hard shades on! My reply to these looks is always the same: the biggest smile I have.
Exile was just getting started, all in monk robes and future shades, and one guy was creeping out to the front of the stage, holding a boom box in front of his head. And I mean boom box, straight out of 1983. He turned his head to the side, lowered the ghettoblaster, and when he turned back to look at the crowd, he had no face- just a speaker. The crowd went crazy.
Donte wants pictures! I thought to myself, grabbing my iPhone and holding it up and snapping a few of the specter of bass, a true man of my religion. And all the pictures really sucked. I promise you guys I will get a new camera, because even as a writer I know that a picture is worth a thousand words. Which is at least half of one of my blog posts. Although in my art’s defense, a famous book begins like this: In the beginning was the word and the word was GOD.
The Exile crew experienced a few technical difficulties, resulting in moments of silence in which you could hear the crowd scream, “technology SUCKS!” and “FUCK TECHNOLOGY!” All tongue-in-cheek of course,- we are children of technology; we grew up pressing buttons. The hosting MC was EXCELLENT- besides his tight rhymes, he did not miss a lick when the music would stop or the bass would blare. Not one lick.
As I left last night without seeing one person I knew (my friend DJ NAMEDROP was in the crowd but we failed to meet up), I thought, can I do this? Can I infiltrate the tougher, hottier, grittier Los Angeles scene the way I did Seattle? Ah of course I can. I was born to do this. My ancestors were Bohemian (as in, from Bohemia in former Czechoslovakia) and I fancy they were gypsies. Have you ever sold everything you owned except what would fit in your car or on your back and moved across the country or the world without knowing hardly a soul? I have. Five times. And once upon one of those times I did not know any of you, my good friends in Seattle. October 2007, to be exact- not that long ago.
So here I am again. I know this “review” hardly qualifies as such, for there is much more about me than the show. Although 99% of the people reading this know me, I hope to someday have actual strangers reading my words, and strangers don’t give a shit if I want to learn how to spin on my neck. So I will try to make my reviews less and less about me and more and more about what they are supposed to be about.
And I promise that next week, it will be ALL about the music, for the lineup at Low End Theory is just STUPID: The Glitch Mob, Mary Anne Hobbs from BBC Radio 1, and a very special surprise guest. I know who it is! It’s gonna be good! I may not have many friends here yet, but I have the right ones!
One day I will write all about the music- but for now, tonight, when I write I feel like I am talking to my friends, who I miss terribly. I miss Recess’ hair all slicked to one side. I miss Asifa’s shining face walking up to me on the dance floor. I miss the point of the night when Suda just starts talking jibberish. But you know what? I also miss Kara, the pilot from Maine who I went candlestick bowling with. I miss Biafall, from Paris, who held my hand and sang to Jah by the river Seine. I miss Iain, from New Zealand, who thought I was crazy for not putting spaghetti on my grilled cheese sandwich. And so many more friends who have left a piece of themselves inside of my heart. I carry you with me always.
Sheesh, want some chicken with that cheese? I am a little sappy at the end of a long moving day.
Tonight? I’m headed out dancing (of course) and going to meet up with some TRASH from the 206!
And here’s a picture for Donte:
Deep fried chicken, Chiang Mai, Thailand
***UPDATE*** I FOUND MY CAMERA!