Sequence.749

If you’ve read my TATS reviews, you know I’ve been to most of the Sequence parties and I’m a hopeless techno-head. So this installation of the Sequence series, after skipping the entire month of May, was not to be missed for several reasons.

 

One of which being that Daasnomem was opening. I reviewed his opening set at Flash a while back and enjoyed the luxury of deep, dark techno: this was just as smooth, running on a rolling beat punctuated by bits of Russian monologue and mechanical wheezes.

This was a warmup for Juana and Ron Jackson to go back to back. They started where Dassnomem left off, soon raised the energy level, and then progressed to merciless. This was a seamless transition, of course, so there was no escaping the techno machine.

We knew the headliners were coming because the speakers went silent. A moment of blank slate. And then instantly: low frequency to hit you in the bones plus a ghostly melody floating overhead. SHXCXCHCXSH had arrived.

For a moment, I questioned the wisdom of giving them the Grand Ancestor speaker system to play with. But that’s not my place.

Amazing set, regardless. A fascinating juxtaposition of the ephemeral and the visceral — but if you’ve read anything about SHXCXCHCXSH you’ve already heard this. It’s all true. Later on, Tsurugi took over and brutalized the audience with an even harder-driving set to make sure everybody was fully exhausted.

It was a night I won’t forget, for many reasons. For your sampling pleasure, a few tracks that I caught.

ROAM XI

I went to Roam’s New Year’s Eve rave and I hadn’t been to another for a variety of reasons, so after last week’s Flash Off I wanted to compare the two — the NYE rave was a similar, high-energy house party. ROAM XI was, however, quite different. The headliner, Matrixxman, is a techno DJ so I found myself thinking more of Sequence raves instead.

It was a techno rave with a dedicated bunch of fans down in front and the rest of the crowd… well, let’s back up a bit first.

The doors opened on time, but things were a bit slow to get rolling. The opening DJs, which included DC staples Chris Nitti and Outputmessage, spun a mix of deep house that was more or less ambient, to my ears. A scaled-up version of the Regrets Only parties held at Ten Tigers every Thursday night. And don’t get me wrong: I love deep house and ambient. I play those all the time when I’m at home writing. For the first couple hours, I kinda wished I’d brought a printout to do some red-pen edits on, or something.

The beat did break out here and there, usually while I was outside smoking a cigarette. After midnight, there was a quick transition to a much heavier vibe, and then DJ Lisa Frank took over and the beats were here to stay. The lasers came on and I especially enjoyed watching them play off the wire branches (tree roots? spiders?) hanging from the ceiling.

By the time Matrixxman came on at 2am, we were solidly into techno territory. And I love techno, but it had been an unusual journey to get there. Most of the crowd — and there was a great turnout — did not seem entirely on board with this, however.

The party was well organized, the setup was excellent, the location itself is just about perfect for a warehouse rave, the Martin sound system was strong and clear. The lasers and visuals were good throughout the night.

It felt a little mismatched, though. Ambient to techno. The lack of dancing in much of the audience. The New Year’s Eve party was more enthusiastic, but the music had not quite grabbed me. Likewise, this rave didn’t quite grab me either.

There isn’t a sample playlist for this review partly because Shazam failed to catch any of the opening set tracks. That annoyed me because I’m always looking for more ambient for my writing playlists. Once the party had switched over to techno, it was the standard problem that Shazam has with all techno: not enough melody for it to latch on to. And honestly, the techno that was played at this party was even less melodic than what I hear at other techno parties.

And then my battery died, but that was my fault.

I’m left with conflicting opinions about Roam, probably because it’s such a near miss. When a party clearly isn’t your sort of thing, or has obvious problems, it’s easy to say that. Roam is clearly a successful series of raves, but somehow it’s not quite what I’m looking for.

Flash Off

There was a lot of discussion, heading into Flash Off, about the authenticity of a rave organized by a club, and a major club at that. I’ve been to a number of raves in DC, organized by pros and amateurs, and there isn’t as much difference as you might think. Flash certainly has greater resources — they brought a Funktion One system to the party — but what really matters is the music. In that, I knew Flash could deliver. My question was: who would show up, the underground or the mainstream?

The first handful of us to arrive waited outside in the cold rain for the last bugs to be worked out of the sound system. That wasn’t much different from a “more underground” rave. Juana’s Frozen-ass Fan Club missed half her set.

But things took off from there. A crowd filtered in relatively quickly. Oliver Caine followed up Juana‘s hard techno opening with a smooth, energetic mix. This carried through local faves Rush Plus‘s set and into Mike Servito and Magda‘s extended back to back session.

Recently I admitted to a friend that I don’t dance as much as I used to. Drinking and hanging out has crept up on me. Well, I tipped the balance back at Flash Off and spent plenty of time on the floor. Still chatted with old friends and new, as well.

Sample playlist

 

I also can’t help but compare the Funktion One system to the Grand Ancestor that I heard at Sequence in April. The F1 was crystal clean, as you’d expect. Loud without the slightest blare. I could stand up against a stack, no earplugs, without the slightest discomfort — and they were turned up until you could feel the compressed air waves coming off them. But Grand Ancestor has more power. It hits harder. It’s raw.

Getting back to the original question: who showed up? I had to tap out after 3am, which would’ve been when the rave was turning into an afterparty. I’m glad to say that even then, the atmosphere was still underground. So thumbs up on that front.

Thumbs up and a tip of the hat in general, in fact, even though I lost my umbrella, went home with muddy dancing sneakers, and got hit by a ridiculous surge rate on my Lyft.

I won’t compare Flash Off to the Sequence raves — it’s a different audience. Same goes for Badass Raves. Midnight Project is mostly in Baltimore these days so I haven’t been to one since the rave that was shut down. Tune in next week when I’ll review the other big name in DC raves: ROAM.