It's a full moon and the delicate white light coming off the ping-pong ball in the sky doesn't disappoint, all the rumors stay true. People are driving crazy, zig-zagging in and out of lanes trying to find that intangible something that just isn't there, and then there's us, a couple of post-eighties hippies with heads full of psychedelics and spicy Thai food, crawling through the Mission on our way to the radioactive Hunter's Point. We pull up to the office on Quint to check our supplies and consult the map. A six-pack, a sack, some chocolate, a little special tea, a case of water, a couple of rights, and a left... Looks good, let's roll.

Nestled along razor wire fencing strategically placed to keep the lemmings from plunging into the murky deep, Kelly's Mission Rock closely resembles the other big rock in San Francisco Bay. The streets are lined with hundreds of cars, and somewhere close I hear them feeding the animals $3 well drinks while bleeding their ears and making them stupid with deafening levels of drum and bass so they can procreate. After playing Frogger with the heavy metal vampires I walk up to the five-deep layer of security in front of Kelly's entrance and ask one of the 300 pound rhinos where will call is. He grunted something and pointed his finger as I ducked and prepared to run.

Mister Rourke
Arriving at 11 pm at a show is pretty average for me, but from the outset I miscalculated what I was getting into, and this was as crucial an error as Bill Buckner's boot in game six of the 1986 World Series. The only thing happening at 11 was the stench of washed up oysters flirting with my nose hairs, and worst of all I couldn't leave the venue to relieve my anxiety.

The show was organized into three different DJ areas [Gary Coleman], the Ubiquity Garden (which we'll get to in a minute), the back porch, and the upstairs of the building. In theory, this was a good idea, you have DJ Greyboy spinning one place, while Zeph and Rourke are playing on the back porch, and you let the crowd work up their appetite for Grandmaster Flash. Unfortunately, there were two things working against this plan: nature's freaky full moon, chilly touch, stanky bay and all, coupled with a layout that has the entrance rolling people right through Greyboy's dance floor. But F#@$ it, nothing is perfect and although Friday's all-nighter had left me raw and abused I got a beer and stumbled out to the back porch where DJ Zeph and Rourke were tag teaming the funky stuff like Tommy Lee and Kid Rock. Add DJ Platter into the mix and the dance floor got nice and sweaty, the grooves juicy as one of Kenny Roger's meal deals.

DJ Greyboy
After Platter left the scene I rolled up to the bar and picked up a sipper of the kickin' chicken before walking over to Greyboy's set. Greyboy hit me in college by bringing together my favorite elements of acid jazz and hip-hop, melting beats into something cool and blue, so you can imagine I was a little bit shocked to see the mere handful of stragglers on tap to vibe on his dance floor. I gots to hand it to the dude though, he pulled off some brilliant funk in the energy-diffused situation. Too much space in between the walls can make a DJ a dull boy (and did I mention it smelled like a crab stand at Fisherman's Wharf?), but he worked through it. The first few minutes he toyed with a quiet groove anchored by congas and a smooth flute that recalled some of his early recordings with Karl Denson. It was like a lullaby that had me slippin' away in my imaginary cradle, but right at the perfect moment he opened up his can of gas laying out a hot and bothered groove that sounded like Pam Grier and Isaac Hayes doing the dirty donkey circa '71.

Don't look back to see the wasters in your tracks when the shit gets funky. There may not have been a lot of people out there, but the ones that were rocked it. A big, tall, blonde girl on platform shoes wearing a pink satin bikini top, porn star glasses, and a big smile didn't stop gyrating all night and for this gets the first annual award for "funkiest human being dressed out of Dame Edna's closet."

While I'm at it, I gots to award the prize for funkiest, most original DJ set to Andrew Jervis, who was spinning to a lone Japanese girl in the cold crab lot while we was all getting hot and sweaty to Flash.

Grandmaster Flash
Grandmaster Flash hit the stage circa 1:30 am, postulating the old school proverb, "In order to know where you're goin', you got to know where you came from." The Grandmaster spoke from behind the decks, "Now here's how it works. In order for this to work successfully, when I ask you to put your hands up in the air, will you do it? [pause] When I ask you to make some noise uncontrollably, will you do it? Make some mutherf&%$#@ noise!" Imaginary crowd roar. "And when I play some hot shit on the decks will you shake your motherfu*&in ass? Do it! Now these are the three important elements for a successful old school party! And I have one more thing to say.. If there is anyone out there in the building sufferin' from the severe illness of being too fuc*$’n cool, you better leave now."

Grandmaster Flash
The rectangular dance floor, overflowing with people into the bars and outside on the deck, began to shake, and with a one for the money, two for the show, off the rocket ship blows. Grandmaster's thunderin' blast of turntable scratches, with a right hand strong like Dr. Claw's, launched the party into the early seventies as we began a journey through the history of what was, and what is now, hip-hop. With a rollin' and tumbling bass line the beats were as heavy as Oprah and absolutely unrelenting.

He took us through the seventies with Chic's "Good Times" and the "Superman Theme," into the eighties with a tribute to Jam master J, cuts by Run DMC, LL Cool J, and the Beastie's "Brass Monkey." A medley of Michael Jackson songs, beginning with "Don’t Stop..." had lovers and strangers grindin' like the ship was going down in a blaze of glory, and by the time he turned up the Naughty By Nature hip-hop anthems "Hip Hop Hooray" and "OPP" the crowd was a flowing sea of good green stank.

Piloting this fantabulous voyage to the birth of new hip-hop came as naturally to Flash as choking on a pretzel did to George W. Grandmaster, being an elder statesman from the first generation, never lost sight of his fallen brothers who had contributed so much to the art form, eulogizing Jam Master and paying tribute to 2Pac and Biggie by cross fading "California Love" with one of Biggie's hits.

Bobby Wilms
JamBase | Bay Area
Go See Live Music!


[Published on: 10/21/03]

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