This just in: kids like the Electronic Dance Music.
If you’ve been paying any sort of attention in recent years, you’re likely keenly aware of the rise of EDM, both nationally and here in Vermont. On the national stage, the success of folks such as Skrillex and the inevitable co-opting of the genre by pop artists from Coldplay to Britney Spears has seen EDM infiltrate the mainstream. Locally, the explosion in popularity of the genre and its many-splendored subdivisions has manifested in dance halls from the diminutive Halflounge to the comparatively palatial Higher Ground Ballroom to the audiophile’s nightmare that is Memorial Auditorium, catering to hardcore bass heads and teenyboppers alike with increasing regularity. In kind, the state is producing EDM DJs, producers and crews at a frantic pace. Especially in Burlington, there isn’t a single night of the week when fans can’t find some EDM relief, whether house, moombahton, dubstep, trap or whatever new subgenre was just invented while I was typing this sentence.
(I know I said I’d retire that joke. But old habits die hard, OK?)
On the surface, you’d think the success of EDM would be cause for celebration among the area’s veteran DJs and crews, validation for years of hard work promoting a scene within a scene. But, according to at least one such DJ, it seems the EDM community at large is experiencing growing pains.
Walter Peterson — aka DJ Rekkon — has been a fixture in area DJ booths for close to 20 years. Much like Craig Mitchell, he is viewed as something of a local guru, one of the elder statesmen of EDM in Vermont. He says that while the increased interest in dance music is a boon for some, it comes at a cost. Namely, division within the EDM community.
In a recent email to Seven Days, Peterson writes that when he started going to raves 20 years ago, the widespread motto was PLUR: peace, love, unity, respect. He suggests that with “the popularity/exposure of this music has come a lack of unity.”
How so? Glad you asked!
Peterson suggests EDM’s popularity is too much of a good thing, citing the fact that on any given night you might have two or three events going on simultaneously. And in case you were wondering, yes, that marks the first time anyone in Burlington has ever complained about having too many options for things to do.
(I’m kidding. But seriously…)
Peterson continues by putting the scene’s growth into historical context, pointing out that crews such as Mushpost and Electrode cut their teeth by tagging along with the 2K Deep crew, which was an outgrowth of Peterson’s long-running Basscamp crew. We could keep going with the begats all day long. But the point is, in Peterson’s opinion, the continued splintering of new crews from old crews, coupled with the ease with which new DJs can get into the game due to technological advancements, means the scene is nearing critical mass. And that results in too many crews with too many ideas about how things should be done, “thus further dividing the small community we already have.”
Rather than stand idly by moaning about the good old days — granted, his missive does have a certain “Get off my lawn, you dang kids!” charm — Peterson is doing something about the growing schism he perceives. Namely, a new monthly EDM series called Sundae Soundclash, which pits area DJs from different crews against each other in a Bloodsport-style battle to the death.
OK, it’s not quite as dramatic as all that. For starters, the “battle” portion of the showcase is meant to be the friendly variety. And the ultimate goal is to bring as many factions of the EDM community together to share the music they love.
The next installment is this Sunday, March 3, at Club Metronome. The lineup features a mix of newbies and vets including Club MU, Young Bloodz, Tricky Pat, Nexus Artist Management, The Harder They Come and Craig Mitchell.
Speaking of EDM, this Thursday, February 28, Nexus and 4Word Productions roll out their annual pre-Mardi Gras throwdown, Hoptronica M3, at Red Square. The multiroom showcase features headliner Onionz, a globally renowned NYC-based DJ and producer whose voluminous catalog includes some 200 singles and remixes. But wait, there’s more. In addition to EDM from Ben Barlow and Justin R.E.M., Giddy Up!, Rob Ticho and Thelonious X, Hoptronica also features a mix of hip-hop, mashup and “UK funky n’ stuff” from Jay Baron, Chris Pattison, Mashtodon, Dante Divinci and Darcie. Oh, and it’s free. Speaking of Mardi Gras in Burlington … um, hey, it’s Mardi Gras! (In Burlington.)
Always love to see Vermont expats come home, if only for a night. This Thursday, February 28, Georgia (the country)-born, Vermont-raised, and now Brooklyn-based R&B singer Mariami returns to the Green Mountains for a show at Nectar’s with VT Union’s DJ Dakota. Mariami has been plugging away in the NYC circuit and garnering solid reviews for her sultry take on modern pop and R&B, including a well-received 2012 single, “I Cried.”
Local pop prince Gregory Douglass is undertaking a new venture that is part career counselor, part advice column. Drawing on his years of experience working as an independent artist, Douglass has launched a website called the Creative Advisor, where he advises — creatively — artists on how to navigate the increasingly complex music biz. His first column is entitled “Go the Fuck Back to School!” I’m kidding. Douglass’ advice, from tips for getting gigs to ways to manage clerical minutiae to simply going easier on yourself, can be helpful stuff. And given how much time he’s logged in the trenches, you couldn’t ask for a more seasoned mentor. Check it out at thecreativeadvisor.com.
Drummer and marimbist Jane Boxall (Panty Town … er, Steady Betty) has left Doll Fight!, citing the desire to focus on professional — read: paying — gigs. The astute among you may have figured out that means the local riot-grrrl punk trio is currently in the market for a new drummer. Sorry, dudes. No boys allowed — “mostly grrrl” just doesn’t have the same ring as “all grrrl.” But lady drummers with an itch to get their Joan Bonham on can contact the band via its website, dollfight.com. In related news, I’m told Doll Fight! does have a new record set for release in the near future, with Boxall on the skins. Stay tuned.
Last but not least, this week’s sign of impending spring: Announcements for summer concert series are beginning to trickle in. The latest is that Talking Heads’ David Byrne will team up with St. Vincent for a show at the Shelburne Museum on Saturday, June 22, as part of the Ben & Jerry’s Concerts on the Green series. Tickets go on sale at highergroundmusic.com this Friday, March 1.
This Week on “Tour Date with DJ Llu”
The third season of Seven Days’ music podcast “Tour Date with DJ Llu” continues this Wednesday, February 27, when Llu sits down with Matt Santos from indie dance phenoms Ra Ra Riot, who play the Higher Ground Ballroom on Friday, March 8. Llu and Santos chat about backlash from the band’s new record, Mark Wahlberg and just what the hell to call their music. To listen in, check out 7d.blogs.com/tour_date.