While the city above cowered in shawls and second guessed decisions to leave blazers at home, the lower level of Bowery Electric was a paradise in many ways. There were the people, a dizzying array of fresh faced neophytes, fashionistas, and B-boys who now don business suits. And they were packed in close quarters which created a tropical climate. A lone fan in the corner provided the only breeze in the balmy basement. Somehow, it all made sense, creating a house party atmosphere right below a bustling boulevard in the Lower East Side. Together, they set the scene for a parade of musical delights. Celebrating a year of existence, Mobile Monday assembled a murderer’s row of DJs. Alongside resident DJs Operator Emz, Natasha Diggs, and Joey C, turntable heavyweights graced the decks with their best vinyl.
Moments to catch one’s breath were a privilege afforded only when DJs relinquished the stage for the next needle artisan to do work. The soundscape was just as diverse as the crowd. Reggae classics blended into Marley Marl’s ‘The Symphony’. A mélange of 80s hip-hop was interspersed with the funk that sparked its evolution. The musical precision of Michael Jackson and James Brown was juxtaposed with the modern discipline of J Dilla and The RZA. Heads nodded. Bodies swayed. And for a moment, the cares at ground level were non-existent.
Our makeshift house party was curated by a who’s who of legends. Just Blaze was amongst luminaries Large Pro, DJ Scratch, DJ Spinna, Boogie Blind and Chairman Mao. Each used their time to educate. In addition to a dance party, each set was a history lesson and DJ clinic. Transitions crisp and rhythms consistent, the selectors kept things at fever pitch but kept everyone craving more.
Throughout the night, sing alongs were a common companion to the music. Run DMC lyrics echoed throughout the chamber as Rock The Bells graced our ears. And the fact that the DJs were limited to vinyl encouraged an environment to show their colorful feathers based on their 45s. Rockin Rob led an excursion through the samples that fueled our biggest hip hop classics. DJ Scratch used a Jason reference from Big Daddy Kane to don a mask and proceed to mutilate records with his technique. Large Pro took us back to places we forgot inspired by the jazzy classics that fueled his best production. And Just Blaze dropped dance classics that zagged when zigs were expected. ‘Gypsy Woman’ led off a progression that touched Robin S and a host of dance classics before effortlessly taking it to the retro boom bap of Nas’ Illmatic period. DJ Spinna closed out the night unearthing treasures long forgotten. The common tie with each DJ was a visible enjoyment of the craft. Every artist stepped up and delivered.
Nights like these are when you are glad that you have the ability to not just celebrate music, but truly witness the art and talent of DJs that care about their craft. Mobile Monday gets it right once again.