It was a night that met every expectation. That really comes off as something trite, but, when speaking of an event of the hype of My Crew Be Unruly, it bespeaks a success of the greatest magnitude. One one night, in one venue, 30 of the world’s finest DJs came together, unified by what was initially advertised as a love of club music and to honor the legacy of late Baltimore legend K-Swift (whose last gig ever was at last year’s inaugural event), but by the end of the evening, became so much more, a statement of the desire of the individual to take music, a gift to the universe unto itself, and shape, meld and mend it in such incredible ways as to pull the most pure and joyous of expressions from those who hear it.
It’s not enough to call My Crew Be Unruly club music’s Woodstock. Every other gathering attempts that and fails. Yes, there were the ribald moments, like club legend Jonny Blaze of The Heat (with DJ Stereo Faith) so proud to be spinning in his hometown’s most famous of venues, a personal success in his post hiatus career, already the most hyped up and giddy hypeman in the game, taking his verbalism and turntablism to ridiculously entertaining new levels, and yes, at 4 AM, much like Woodstock, there was breakfast for the multitudes. But the Woodstock comparison falls short. It’s a whole different vibe we’re talking about here. Imagine if every performance was as inventive as Jimi playing the Star Spangled Banner, and you get a clue.
This night was as much about vaunted veterans like DJ Class of “I’m the Shit” fame and Scottie B performing together and arguably (you could have a great discussion including DJ Booman and Jimmy Jones of the Doo Dew Kidz in that as well) staking a claim to their absolute domination of the game. It was just as much about the generations that they’ve inspired, from the stars that they’ve spawned like Tittsworth, Dave Nada (and by extension Nadastrom), Philly’s Brick Bandits crew represented by DJ Tameil and the thundering Freddy Krueger stabs and Mike Tyson jabs of bass and manic energy of DJ Sega, and even deeper than that, the underground bubbling to the surface, folks like openers Adam Gonzo, and the 1.21 Jiggawatt Soundsystem of DC’s Andrew Jaye and Baltimore’s James Nasty, a duo that played so hard and so crowd friendly of a set that you’d think that the end of the world was coming and our only hope was that Baltimore Club could fend off the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Also telling was the very hipster and electro friendly “outdoor stage,” a stage well represented by DC stalwarts Will Eastman, and the oft discussed with good reason Nouveau Riche crew of Nacey, Gavin Holland and Steve Starks, who boldly played an abbreviated set of nothing but his own edits and remixes, clearly making the case that he was easily ready to change his status in life and do a little bit more than what he’s up to right now. These talents were mixed with those of Brooklyn’s Cousin Cole, a DJ who though diminutive in stature brings a giant sized wealth of talent to the table and exhibited it on Friday night.
And what of the people they moved? Well that’s the most important statement. From inner city Baltimore youth, ever colorful and utterly insane with their dance steps, be they the Wu Tang, Spongebob or Ice Cream (and likely 25 more I’m forgetting), and appreciative of their local genre of music, to the DC hipster mob, shaking our bodies to electro tinged sounds, and literally every derivation of person in between, the people were there to party. Well, not even so much to party as to be entertained, and have fun. It’s always my belief that in these times where there’s really so much going wrong, that dance music right now, especially on the underground, fresh, expansive, different and often mind boggling, can provide an answer to the question of what’s right in the universe. And everyone, from Baltimore’s Big L , Cullen Stalin or Say Wut, to NYC’s DJ Ayres (who opened quite well in the main room) got that point. It’s so easy, especially here on the Internet, to get caught up in denigrating music and tearing it asunder. But music, when in the hands of the capable and motivated, can motivate people, and, in the words of the immortal Rod Lee, make us “dance our pain away.” That happened on Friday night. And it was an absolutely beautiful thing indeed. Even amongst higher attendance than last year, and met expectations, that’s what I’ll remember the most. My life, which really sucks on numerous levels these days, was great for six hours, thanks to music. Our crew, well, the universe’s crew is certainly unruly these days, but for once we were glad.