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January 28, 2013
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January 20, 2013
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December 29, 2012
On Sunday morning, December the 23rd, after copious pre-partying at my friend’s apartment in Brooklyn, our group of 5 split up, with three driving into The Village as a unit, and the other two, myself and who we’ll refer to for these purposes as “Dr. No”, taking car service down to 218 Sullivan St. for the purposes of taking in The Scumfrog, live and in person. At exactly 3:03 AM, we sprung from the taxi, presented our pre-printed tickets to some very amenable door men, when we found out that we were the last on the “Want Tickets” list to arrive (you know, best for last sorta thing), thanked them, tipped them, and bounded in for our red stamps. Coat check seemed daunting so we held our coats for a bit, as some of the drinking crowd seemed to be hitting the exits–as always–before things had even gotten good. We entered to the sound of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”, a creepy rendition, quite frankly, which we found much to our liking. It’s very easy to identify a deejay by sound. We’ve been doing so for years. We could see it was Scumfrog, as he was visible in the booth, and we probably were never more than 50′ from him on the whole evening, which is a credit to The Sullivan Room, an incredibly intimate venue. But if he were perhaps obscured, we’d have known it was him. The Scumfrog is very distinct and has a fondness for Rock & Roll–over thick, chunky beats, which these were.
Dr. No had taken a wrong turn somewhere upon entrance. No doubt he would turn up. So I grabbed a drink and went right for the upper deck, where there was plenty of seating, so I settled in with a prayer that no one would approach me, and just listened to the set. While there’s a lot we admire about The Scumfrog’s music, if we had to narrow it down to one thing, we’d say it is the beats. He’s very aggressive and we can appreciate that. We grew up with Danny and JP, and cut our teeth at after hours clubs, here, in Miami, and in Las Vegas, for the most part. Frankly, we don’t even like JP, who to us, is very “Jersey”, and whose sets are often, shall we say, askew. To come out to a regular party, during “regular hours”, when you don’t even need to submit to a body cavity search upon entrance, and to be wowed by hard beats is very notable. We’re sure that Scumfrog appreciates that the ear of the city is very refined, and we think the set reflected his respect for this House Music community. Chunky is the word that best described the consistency of beats, which is a very high bit of praise, and was the word we were mumbling when Dr. No caught back up with us a few minutes later.
Dr. No had found a seated perch right off the dance floor and when he saw me, he called me over to that spot. While we hate moving, it was the right thing to do. Like any house party, the patrons are going to be predominantly men, but there was definitely some talent on the floor, and it only takes a few hot chicks dancing, because really, how many places can your eyes be in at once? A couple of stripper quality chicks dancing (Saturday night strippers, not Monday night strippers) can go a long way. Once I got set up over there, a guy came over and approached Dr. No. I was happy to ignore it, happier still that he hadn’t approached me. But I could hear the conversation, and this cat had a very Aussie accent, and so right away the very paranoid patron that I am started doubting it, wondering if this guy wasn’t a fake Australian/real pig. So I am patiently waiting this thing out, when Dr. No mentions the Australian Open, and directs this kid to me, because I am a very big tennis fan. Fuck. It turns out, the guy probably was from Australia because he knew enough to talk about Aussie prodigy Bernard Tomic, which frankly, is not much of a topic among local 5-0. He said that Tomic had some issues and I had said back that a player that good, that young, often has hiccups because they are raised in the spotlight. Then the guy asked me for drugs. LOL. We knew it was coming and were glad to get it out of the way. We do not know where to get drugs in The Sullivan Room and wouldn’t have told him, even if we knew. Surely, if he approached everyone in the bar as he had us, he’d find them. So that’s what we told him. Ask around, but we can’t help you. He was cool, and we really hope he found what he was looking for. Surprisingly enough, he was the only person who asked us for drugs, which has to be some sort of a record. One that we appreciated, because we are too para to get solicited in a situation like that.
We were paranoid indeed. We were paranoid that our friends, “Dr. Mo”, his wife, “Dr. Jo”, and our friend “Dr. Bo”, had retired early and weren’t really on their way to the club. Yes, we roll with doctors. Three M.D.’s and one D.C. And to tell the truth, they sorta look at me like a Godfather of sorts in these situations. I had vouched heavily for The Scumfrog, so I was of course anxious to see them and to see them having fun. Dr. Mo, an avid House fan (How serious, you ask? His email tag is “twilofire”!), had also gone way back with The Scumfrog, and had lived in the same apartment building as him about ten years ago, on 34th and 3rd, where he saw him all the time. It had turned out that they had been there, on the other side of the club, so they had heard a bit of the set. A track came on–“No Can Do” by Hall & Oates. Dr. Mo settled in on my left and asked me the following questions:
“Do you think he played ‘Trippin” yet?”
“What do you think of all the popular music?”
I knew he had not played “Trippin'” yet, and stated as such. He asked me why I felt that way. Because to play “Trippin” early in a set was amateurish, and probably even an amateur would not disrespect that track that way. Also, I felt it would be bad form to play a request early in a set. “Trippin'”, besides, is more of a set’s linchpin, and you wouldn’t waste it by blowing it prematurely.
The second question was more interesting. My answer was honest. I said that some hardcore fans would probably frown on popular music in that spot, think it’s campy. Then again, we’ve all heard it done. I’ve heard Steve Lawler drop the Red Hot Chili Peppers, heard Danny drop from Michael Jackson to 50 Cent (boo!), even heard Victor Calderone drop “Without Love” by the Doobie Brothers at the Old Crobar in Miami, and that selection probably made the most impact on me of any record I’ve ever heard spun. We all love to hear identifiable music, especially when it’s good, and Scumfrog has an excellent sense of what the fans want to hear. But this was a two part answer. “As long as he drops them over hard beats, he’s got nothing to worry about.”, I said. And Scumfrog really delivers at that, and we feel he has even improved at that, that his craft right now is extremely tight and polished.
In short, we picked the right spot to come out from under a rock. Scumfrog was amazing, and we will be sure to repeat the affair the next time he plays The Sullivan Room, which was also even better than we remembered. It’s an easy place to hang out. Drinks are cheap, and all the workers are very appreciative, when you tip, whether they be barmen or bathroom attendants. That’s the nice thing about going out these days. We can actually afford to spend money, and always prefer to tip well for the enjoyment and the unofficial benefits that go with tipping, which we’ll not discuss in this space.
Somewhere around 4:25 AM, close enough to the end for us, and to 4:20 for that matter, The Scumfrog dropped “Trippin'”, B Side, as he so graciously sent us the link to. What a gentleman. We knew what it was immediately, and we went right to the booth to thank him. We hope he heard us. If not, here it is as well. From there he played “If I ever Lose My Faith”, as we expected, and then to chants of “One More Track!”, he played “Asteroidz” by DBN Featuring Matilda, and it was quite a bomb. In fact, it was the only time we took out our phone all night, as we did not want to seem rude, but at that point–last track–it hardly mattered. We also actually felt bad about guilting The Scumfrog into playing “Trippin'” because we didn’t feel like the crowd was that warm to it, like these kids don’t know “Trippin'”, and therefore it felt a bit selfish on our part. At any rate, we’ll take it.
The Scumfrog played a great set in a great room, and the only recognizable music we heard was either classic, or Scumfrog classic, in which case, we knew to expect some things because any deejay will fall back on a few tracks here and there. And now, we have just a couple of questions. Well, more, but we’ve narrowed it to 2. One was, after a triumphant show like that, what does an ex-NYer from New Mexico do with himself? Our bet would have to be real pizza. The other, was he sporting a bit of a mustache now?
And for the unsanitized version of events, you may inquire within. But if we tell you, we may have to kill you.
December 21, 2012
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A juicy tidbit for electronic music fans: Danny Tenaglia, the best in the business, whose sets rarely become available for download, spun a 38 minute set in November which is available for download, recorded live at Pacha (and also called “Live at Pacha”) at the Hurricane Sandy charity benefit. The set was also broadcast live on Sirius XM’s Area. That the set was both broadcasted and is available make it a double treasure for Danny fans, as DT is notorious for safeguarding his sound and is extremely difficult to pirate when live. Prior to the November Pacha set, it seems the last time a Tenaglia set was available was back at Electric Zoo in 2011, the common thread being perhaps that both sets were heard live on Sirius. Maybe Danny has had a long overdue change of heart when it comes to being broadcast, at least, over satellite radio. It wasn’t too long past when Danny refused to be broadcast from Ultra Festival at the WMC, causing Sirius to black out the entire hour long set. Tenaglia is usually the only artist to withhold consent, but that instance, that he abstained was announced on the air, which let listeners know that the reason they couldn’t hear Danny…was Danny. Though any real DT fan expected nothing different. Danny’s rare accessible set from Pacha featured strong edits of “Walking on Fire” (though our favorite version is in Saeed Younan’s catalog from a Global DJ Mix back in 2005), giving us a window into classic Danny. He also dropped “Be Yourself” and, in case you’re interested, he couldn’t keep his mouth shut — also classic Danny.
While Danny still manages to dominate the tribal genre’s landscape, to the point where he does not need to court the promotional benefits of podcasting, thankfully there are quality artists in the genre who do. We’ve sung to you before the praises of Saeed Younan’s Spotlight Series, which we feel is the best monthly series available. Younan, who spun after hours in NYC for Static Bookings on Sunday, has gone almost 2 months without a new episode. We’re hoping that means that Saeed will soon upload the peak time of that set as his Christmas present to us. Anyway, our fingers are crossed. By the way, congrats to Saeed, who now has his own Youtube Channel. Well done. If you like the tribal sound, or what Saeed has rebranded as “Afro-tech House”, then you probably already know about those Iberican beats. In which case you are missing out if you haven’t subscribed to the InStereo! Radio Show podcast by Chus Esteban (DJ CHUS). In our view, Chus has been extremely magnanimous in bringing us this series, which stands alone as the best weekly podcast in dance music. With most series, the constant is infrequency, and we’re lucky to get 4-5 new editions per year. That CHUS updates weekly not only demonstrates his connection to the fans, but also the depth of his library and connections in the industry (we particularly liked the 11/9/12 episode, spun by DJ Sabb). When CHUS addresses the listeners to introduce the show, he says “Hello buddies!” As are most things with CHUS, it comes off as sincere. CHUS has also podcasted several live shows on his podcast series or at http://www.clubspace.com or on the Pacha podcast series, usually with partner Pablo Ceballos. Since the elite duo recently played Cielo on Thanksgiving night, we are hoping that Cielo makes it available through their podcast series, also found on iTunes.
The CHUS series contains no commercials, a notable feature, and though CHUS does speak, the talk is minimal, an appreciable selling point. To DJ CHUS and to Chus & Ceballos we say thank you. The Scumfrog’s Glam Scum International podcast has both commercial interruptions and frequent voice overs. We like it nonetheless. We go way back with the Scumfrog, who we found to be a shy person, but who is extremely loquacious in his weekly spot. The talkative deejay does not usually go over so well in Electronica. Danny can get away with it because the tracks are that good. That doesn’t work for most, like for example, Mark Knight, whose voice and accent are repugnant. Knight is also very campy with the old school radio deejay shtick. It’s completely grating. The Scumfrog seems to have a perfect persona for radio. He’s funny and honest. On a recent podcast, when doing an announce for a track by a former member of the Hoxton Whores, when he referred to said British act, he said “his words, not mine.” It gave us a chuckle. What is even funnier is how The Scumfrog disdains mashups, as well he should. In announcing why he killed the mashup segment of the program despite it’s popularity, he essentially explained that mashups are horrible, that he’s sick of them, that he won’t waste anyone’s precious time with them any longer, and that if you like them so much you can download an app for your phone for free and make your own shitty mashups. Oh yeah, and that, in theory, if a good mashup were to come into his hands, which is unlikely, don’t worry because he’d play it. Theoretically.
The Scumfrog’s podcast is the cream when it comes to radio style podcasts, which, in case you are confused, is not really the style of DJ CHUS’s podcast, despite the name, The InStereo! Radio Show. Glam Scum is probably one of the very few radio style podcasts worth listening to at all, which is a credit to The Scumfrog’s ear and other sensibilities. We’ve always regarded him as an immense talent, as one would easily find by listening to his DJ sets. While the podcasts feature short, clipped tracks with tight ins and outs, which may not be suited to your style if you have grown accustomed to completely continuous flow, you pretty much have to listen, if just for what you might miss if you don’t. If Scumfrog’s playing it, it’s hot, and if you don’t like it at first, you should probably reserve judgment until the 3rd or 4th time you hear something. But Scumfrog has an appreciation for what the fans want, and so his website offers his podcasts, commercial and voice over free, because as he himself says, the last thing you’d want to hear, say, if you played the cast at a party, are breaks or his voice. Talk about magnanimous. Perhaps he can have a word with Danny.
Many Scumfrog sets have been made available through the years at no charge. When live, there is no pressure on him to get in and out, and you can really get a feel for his music, which is diverse, unique, eclectic, and hard, and for his style, which is a very smooth and bold brand of Prog House/Tech House/Deep House, as far as we can tell. We remember a set made public probably 8 or 9 years back, at the height of the Limewire/WinMX piracy frenzy, in which Scumfrog comes in with a quick voice over to say that you should enjoy the music, that he wants us to have it. That’s class. In that set, Scumfrog drops a most classic bomb, probably the biggest bomb of all time at that — “Trippin” by Goldtrix featuring Andrea Brown. Now we’ve heard almost all of the versions of ‘Trippin” that there are, and whatever version this was, was the best that we’ve heard, to this day. Unfortunately for us, we are talking about the pre-Shazam era, and the rip was on our computer 2 hard drives ago, and since lost. But that “Trippin”, probably circa ’03 or ’04, is no doubt in The Scumfrog’s library. We’ve also admired Scumfrog sets on Global DJ Broadcast, and are particularly fond of two of his more recent sets, the “No Sleep til Brooklyn” party from last February, and the Robot Heart set from Burning Man, which we’ve tweeted about, and from which we have tweeted a good deal of tags. It’s rare that a producer hits on so many big tracks. While we see very hot acts getting a lot of the spotlight, who are admittedly good, like Miss Jennifer and Nicole Moudaber, in overlapping genres, we don’t see them hitting home run after home run like Scumfrog, with tracks like “Pavement Cracks”, “Music Revolution”, and most recently, “If I Ever Lose My Faith.” These are giant tracks and the sets are monstrous, so by our standards, this man does not receive the credit he is due.
Scumfrog has made his sets widely available through Soundcloud, Mixcloud, and iTunes, and they are among the best sets available anywhere. Multiple Burning Man sets of his are available on iTunes at the Distrikt podcast series, and frankly, they are the only sets there that aren’t hideously trancey. Just when we were especially lamenting Scumfrog’s relocation to New Mexico, thinking back on numerous Sullivan Room and Pacha dominant sets, our email pings, and lo and behold, Scumfrog is spinning this Saturday, back where he belongs, at the famed Sullivan Room in NYC. Talk about luck. We’ve got our tickets already.
Maybe Scumfrog will even be more personable than the last time we ran into him, which was at the old Limelight, or by then Avalon temporarily, for Steve Lawler’s Lights Out tour, which had to be about 9 years ago, if our math is decent. There was a buzz that night at one point because Scumfrog was there, and a lot of people recognized him and were hassling him. Including us. We hate to be a hassle, really, and only wanted to pass on our respect, but we understand what it’s like to be surrounded by crackheads, and we also usually live by the credo that the best interactions are the ones that do not take place. So we thought it was funny when Scumfrog denied being Scumfrog despite the fact that we all knew he was who he was. Maybe that shit plays out west, we don’t know. But this is NYC, and if you are out at Steve Lawler in a snow storm, chances are you can recognize Scumfrog, a blonde headed, skinny giant. LOL.
We are all about the music, and would tolerate being snubbed a thousand times over if it meant that Scumfrog was going to keep putting out so much accessible music. So if he would rather stay tight up in the booth, but could find his way to dropping a bomb like “Trippin”, we’d be happy to consider ourselves ahead in the bargain, as we already are indeed. And to him also, a hearty thank you. Subscribe to the podcasts mentioned here in this space and support these artists whenever possible. They are truly deserving and you will be happy that you did.
December 15, 2012
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December 1, 2012
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