Flimsy predictions give me a brain rash, but I'll venture this: the Construction Series 11-band extravaganza on April 27th offered Boston scenesters a glimpse into the future. If you haven't figured it out yet, it's all about electronica. Call it what you will, semantics aside we all know what's going on here: the DJ cometh to jamland. If you're looking for a culprit in Boston, Maxx Haze would be to blame. He's emerging as one of the only (can I say THE only?) promoter in Boston punching holes in the membrane separating organic and electronic. "For the kids who want to come out and party, you've basically got two scenes: jambands/hippy and raves," Maxx contends. "This [the event] is a good chance to merge these two scenes, and develop some young, educated fans." Consider, then, the Construction Series the first local large-scale experiment in sonic integration.
Marking the grand opening of DNA Loft, a 1500 square foot warehouse space on the Boston/Roxbury line, the spectacle was a 360 degree sense teaser. Inside the cavernous space, a diverse lineup of bands within the bass & drum driven phylum of groove plied their wares beneath a full-blown light and multi-media show, while off to the side a DJ room kept pumping like a little raved-out Energizer bunny. Above the stage, blazened across the massive wall, a phenomenal psychedelic interactive visual show put together by Toshi Hoo kept all enraptured with kalaidescoping colors, patterns, and faces, including this great little bit of distortion applied to one recent President's smarmy grin. Top off the mix with electrical prophet Matt Iarrabino (Bisco/New Deal), who whipped up his usual magic on the lights. And although the show was 18+, there was beer and wine for the big kids. Umm... beer.
Anyways, while bands like JT and the Dirty Truth and John Brown's Body laid down some nasty nasty brassed-out soulfunk and reggae, respectively, the night belonged to the ripening genre of the electronically-influenced live rip. The lineup was stuffed with bands that are incorporating varying degrees of dance-driven sounds: Learned Evolution, Illuminada, Rustic Overtones, Brothers Past, Plexus, and the Mobius Band are names that you'll be seeing on many more marquees in the future fer sure. I didn't catch most of them since they played early on, but word has they were all super-tight. Off in the turntable annex, well-known spinners such as Seishi, DJ Reazon, and Tony Humphries were doing their thing, and the little room was thumping.
The only full set of live music I caught was John Brown's Body, and let me tell you, if they come to a theater near you, check 'em out. Spread out on stage with a full-horn section and copious dreads, these guys opened up with a razor-sharp dub riff that is still giving me goose bumps. They proceeded to smoke through a reggae set that ignited the large, mixed crowd, and the kids especially dug it when the whole band got behind the groove and herky-jerked in unison to the beat, horns swinging tightly from side to side, strings and heads and feet following in syncopation. Rico.
Unfortunately, right after their set closed the heat came round and busted the shebang down a couple hours early, apparently in response to the keyboard-burning Spanish Castle Magic encore of the aforementioned Dirty Truth, which preceded John Brown's Body. I'm assuming the rest of the crowd thought it was pretty cool, but the law apparently did not. Whether that is the case, or if it was something more sinister and rooted in the murky waters of local entertainment politics, we'll never know. With another big show lined up for the summer, however, the DNA Loft has a promising future as a Boston-area destination for dance and electronic-influenced live music. This is a prospect Maxx Haze is cautiously optimistic of, though, so we'll just have to wait and see. Suffice to say for now that the DNA Loft is a great venue, and the potential of hosting similar productions in the future is huge.
If you're into the scene, though, it's burgeoning in the clubs around town, and Haze has been relentlessly booking bands in places that have never seen a drum stick. "I've been able to work in almost every room in Boston," he says. "There are a hell of a lot of people out there who are playing live electronica, and electronic-influenced live music and want to see that crossover. And I've had a lot of rave promoters approach me to do a band, which hasn't worked out yet because a band is so much more complicated to set up than a DJ. But I think we're on the brink, and stuff will be breaking out on a bigger scale in a year or two."
Check out MaxxHaze.com for details on upcoming shows of the dance groove varietal. Of particular note is a gig on June 19th at the House of Blues featuring local prodigies Moonraker and Samahdi, two bands that have captured an audience that cuts straight through a huge cross-section of music freaks and aficionados. Like YOU! Let the good times roll...
JamBase Boston Correspondent
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