BLISSPOP DC Dance Party Summer Extravaganza Review

by Marcus K. Dowling

The fact that Washington, DC now boasts a seven day a week underground party scene is fairly amazing, all things considered. For the numerous taunts and teases the city receives, from being a city of transient non neighbors, to that of being so polarized along racial and socio-economic lines that unity of any sort, on much of anything is virtually impossible, DC’s ability to persevere, namely in the DIY dance and electronic music community is commendable. Friday’s Blisspop Summer Extravaganza event at 9:30 Club wasn’t even so much a celebration of the talents of the DJs, so much as it was a notification of acceptance of our city on a national and international landscape. Nadastrom and Tittsworth, the closers, are INTERNATIONAL superstars these days that get namedropped in the same breath as globetrotting party starters du jour like Diplo, Steve Aoki, Rusko and so on, and so forth. It must be noted that in the mind of this author that it seems as though every time Nadastrom or Tittsworth comes back to the DMV after an extended absence, namely at a Blisspop party, the crowds are larger, louder and more knowledgeable of not just the music of the headlines, but of the culture in general, and that’s nothing but a positive. Will Eastman, a cultural curator of sorts of the Capital City, does well at these parties to support our “superstars,” while at the same time surrounding them with our city’s top stalwarts and rising talents as well, which was more than apparent as Dmerit, with their funky French electro, Bobby Jae and Ken Lazee’s populist mixing, and Eastman’s stellar ear as a selector proving that DC is not just a two horse city.

Miniature water pistols? What's a dance party without a parcel of water pistols?
Photo credit Max "max_imus" Freed (

What's a birthday without a candy filled Little Mermaid pinata to hang?
Photo credit Max "max_imus" Freed (

If DC is going to make any waves on the national forefront, it will be due in large part to crafting an identity, or giving the nation a sense of what DC parties are all about. This is where DC’s transient and cold nature comes in, as, if you read the Washington City Paper, we abuse lots of drugs and alcohol, which says nothing about really having a good time, unless, well, that’s your bag. Blisspop reflected a great DC party angle, that of ribald and outlandish debauchery, as, between Dave Nada and Will Eastman, and a great number of other local DJs, there’s a strong indy and punk rock background, which lends itself well to the type of anarchy loosed upon the event.

You had Dave Nada dancing while swaddled in a DC flag while throwing down Nadastrom’s Beatport #1 single, the Soul II Soul’s “Back to Life” sampling “Pussy.” Then, there were all manner of soccer scarves, ketchup, or pickle juice or mayonnaise filled condoms, as well, there were pocket water pistols filled with water spraying the throng, and the coup de grace, in celebration of Dave Nada’s birthday, a pinata, filled with candy, that Nada savaged like a madman with a stick, a moment certain to be frozen in this observer’s memory for quite some time.

Will Eastman with pickle juice filled condom as Tittsworth murks the DC faithful.
Photo credit Max "max_imus" Freed (

Dave Nada with soccer scarf.
Photo credit Max "max_imus" Freed (

Musically, what can I say. Dmerit, Bobby Jae and Ken Lazee played the role of able openers, a difficult one in the DJ world, as you just can’t throw down hard, rattling basslines or 140 BPM manic jams, but you’re playing solidly, rubbing the sticks to start the flame, Dmerit really showing tons of promise, Micah Vellian heavily involved as a producer for Will Eastman’s debut solo effort and the work of himself and Output Message definitely worth a listen. Bobby Jae and Ken Lazee got busy and even threw in Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” for good measure in one of those congruous incongruity moments that we can thank Girl Talk for. Will Eastman’s Ruby Isle “So Damn High” remix is always a winner (director Kylos who provides Blisspop’s fetching visual backdrops promises a complete video VERY soon), and he, from a technical standpoint was really on point to be point of being phenomenal on Friday night.

And the closers. I tend to believe that Dave Nada, Matt Nordstrom and Jesse Tittsworth turn in the kind of performances they turned in in DC on a fairly regular basis. That’s what makes them who they are in the dance universe. Making the commonplace memorable is the type of thing that a chain restaurant strives to do in their credo when they serve you spaghetti and meatballs. The energetic, musical firebrand, crowd murking, wall rattling raucous mania associated with Nadastrom and Tittsworth, when accepted as commonplace, makes memories that if commonplace, you’re either living life quite well at the edge of a lighting bolt, or completely nuts. There’s a love of music apparent in the productions crafted by both performers. There’s a joy of being DJs, of having no real limits, of being able to use wobbling, drunken dubstep basslines that can wake the dead, of sampling just about anything and with some deft turns of talent making it INTENSELY musical, or having at your fingers the world of music, and in Tittsworth’s case dropping Drake and Trey Songz’s collaboration from Drizzy’s So Far Gone mixtape “Successful” as a soulful, melodic and even ponderous dance break in the midst of his three hour piledriving powerslam of music.

At the end of the day, Blisspop didn’t reinvent the wheel. Even better, if you’re full of hate for the entire hipster, DJ adoring community, it probably didn’t rate as important on your radar. But, if you’re a lover of music, and a believer in it’s power to producer such positive concepts as love, peace, happiness and unity, then this was a celebration of that. We’re all broke, we’re all struggling, and, let’s face it, times just ain’t right. Friday night, a slew of uber talented made things a little bit better. And that’s wonderful.