Fourthcity Opens Up Seattle's Underground Electronic Scene
Mondays at Deep Down Lounge, 126 S Jackson St, 709-4332, $2.
Zach and Wyatt Huntting are the anti-Gallagher brothers (you know, those squabbling Beatles plagiarists in Oasis). Blond, blue-eyed, and each in possession of two eyebrows, Zach, 27, (AKA Zapan), and Wyatt, 24, (AKA Y_it:earp), harmoniously run the up-and-coming multimedia spectacle Fourthcity on Monday nights at Deep Down Lounge.
A bouillabaisse of electronic music and eye-popping graphics (many provided by Zach's wife, Eiko Kowada), the event sports a unique vibe in Seattle's club environment. Set in the cozy basement below Temple Billiards in Pioneer Square, Fourthcity welcomes diversity like the UN; a consistently challenging stream of producers, instrumentalists, rappers, and visual artists has transformed the dreaded Monday night into a crucial prime-time entertainment zone. Patrons can chill, chat, and chug drinks on the many comfy sofas or shake their asses on the small dance floor (just don't jump too high or you'll bump your noggin on the ceiling).
"I wanted to create more of an experience than you get at standard club nights," explains Zach in his Capitol Hill apartment.
"We want to offer something visually and sonically different," adds Wyatt. "[With] most clubs, there's not much that's unique visually."
"In a lot of club situations, people play the same music every week," says Zach. "We wanted to showcase a lot of different music; develop a regular crowd, and then change their perspective."
Since its inception in January, the night's been drawing an average of 60 people despite a paltry promo budget (the May 26 "experiment" at Chop Suey attracted twice that total). Fourthcity brings in established local laptop wizards (Bobby Karate, L'uisine, Kris Moon), out-of-town ringers (Miles Tilmann, Mr. Projectile, Adam Johnson), and promising Seattleites (Plasticene, Mutagenic, Absolute Madman), while regulars Antiscience, Hideki, Bumblebee, and the Huntting bros. keep your head nodding with a blend of Def Jux/Ninja Tune-style instrumental hiphop and unhinged drum 'n' bass. Fourthcity's adventurous booking policy ensures that every event will mess with your head in a different way.
"It helps that we have an open-minded atmosphere about our weeklies," says Wyatt. "People in between or on the outer reaches of drum 'n' bass and hiphop wouldn't feel comfortable submitting their music to places that have a straight view of those genres. With the widely varying, abstract acts we've had, people feel comfortable coming up to us during shows and handing over demos or sending things in."
A recent visit to Deep Down Lounge found white and Asian DJs spinning hiphop tracks while two dreadlocked African Americans and two Caucasians formed a cipher and started freestyling verses. To my surprise, the honky who looked like an H&R Block employee spat out the most interesting lyrics and possessed the best flow. (Turns out he's DJ Paulish, a Fourthcity regular.) Earlier in the evening, the trio Plasticene forged a mellifluous Medeski, Martin and Wood-like jazz-funk.
While most nights foster an intimate, friendly aura, not every Fourthcity happening has been trouble-free. "There haven't been any fights, but some strong personalities and angry people have come through," says Wyatt. "One night at a loft party [Fourthcity experiment no. 1], two guys started freestyling on the mic at various points. One guy was rapping about microwaving babies and eating them. The other guy sat there for about two minutes going, 'Heroin! Heroin! Heroin!'"
Until the Chop Suey shindig, Fourthcity was a free party. The Hunttings have begun charging $2 for admission, but nobody's getting rich here; profits will be funneled into much-needed new audio gear (Bobby Karate blew out a subwoofer at the legendary Laptop Circle match in April), a fliering campaign, and "guerrilla-type art installations." Further plans include launching a new, improved website (www.fourthcity.net) and starting a record label. Wyatt's hard at work on the site and on his solo album, which he describes as a mix of X-Ecutioners and Dr. Octagon, "triphop with a lot of scratching and turntablism over it."
"It's nice to have crew members who are in it more for the love and having fun playing," says Wyatt. "Fortunately, people are more into furthering the collective goal than trying to get paid."
The Hunttings cite a quote from E|I publisher Darren Bergstein as inspirational to their cause: "Mix an aggressive entrepreneurial spirit with the artistic jones to create, and a movement is born." "We have both," claims Zach.