Ya heard? Variety is the spice of life. Seriously. But a lot of club promoters still haven't grasped this simple concept. Luckily for Seattle clubbers, DJ Recess and DJ Swank (Jason Wyttenbach) understand the veracity of that axiom. Recess's Shameless and Swank's United House Front (UHF) crews have combined their considerable energies to launch the new weekly event Electric Avenue, which will be free every Friday at CHAC's Lower Level.
Initially, this collaboration may strike some as odd. UHF has been typecast as a bastion of funky, disco-oriented house, while Shameless is best known for its roughshod commingling of electro, disco punk, and dance rock. But Swank claims that UHF has expanded its parameters, so the partnership isn't as strange as one would think.
"Electric Avenue is the culmination of this other side of UHF," Swank says. "Our goal is to create a night that focuses on high-energy DJs and live acts of many genres, yet in a relaxed, friendly, and fun environment. We aren't here to do a head-nodding, chin-rubbing excursion into abstract sounds. We're here to throw a hands-in-the-air, scream-for-no-reason, and dance-till-your-feet-hurt party."
Swank notices a lack of unity among Seattle's electronic-music tribes. The region's talented performers should be playing before more people who would appreciate them, he reasons. "Because of this, we decided to structure this night as one that will allow for breaking down the boundaries between these production groups, artists, and those that enjoy them."
Electric Avenue will focus on Northwest talent, but will occasionally book national and international artists. The night's fliers boast a diverse menu of music: "electro.techno.house.electroclash.indie.ghetto.progressive.glitch.breaks.minimal.maximal." Is this maybe too diverse a program? (Not that I'm complaining.) Swank disagrees. "Over the last couple of years there has been a large influx of producers that defy standard electronic-music categorization by creating hybrid tracks that have many similarities in sounds, pattern, and structure as the more classic electronic formats (house, techno, breaks, etc.). We plan to bring together artists that you would not normally see booked together, yet share some of the same musical elements. These artists will create a cohesive yet very different soundscape than most are used to listening to in a single outing."
So, what will distinguish EA from Seattle's other dance-oriented nights? "Variety of music and variety of crowds," Swank asserts. "Never again will you be out at a night and go, 'Man, didn't the last DJ play deep house, too?' Each night will progress in form while keeping to some basic musical themes. One night may be booty oriented; another may focus on acid sounds. But no matter what, the night will be cohesive and will be focused on getting your butt on the dance floor."
SATURDAY JANUARY 20
DJ RIZ, HVW8, SUNTZU SOUND
Safari curators and broken-beat ambassadors SunTzu Sound do it up large tonight with local legend DJ Riz (whatever he brings, it'll be tight and mixed with precision) and HVW8. The latter is a Los Angeles/Montreal-based collective that spontaneously paints murals onstage to whatever music's coming through a venue's system. That takes nerve and serious concentration. HVW8's style incorporates club-culture iconography, graffiti-style kineticism, ravishing color schemes, and exquisitely rendered portraiture. These artists (Tyler Gibney, Dan Buller, and Gene Starship) have been blending high art with commercial graphics to stunning effect since 1998. See myspace.com/hvw8musicismyart for a sampling of HVW8's aesthetics. Baltic Room, 1207 E Pine St, 625-4444, 9 pm—2 am, $7 before 11 pm, 21+.
SUNDAY JANUARY 21
TULSI, THE SHAPESHIFTERS, DJ KRUK, CLOCKWERK
On his 2006 debut album, Fresh Points on Life, Seattle MC Tulsi gracefully harks back to Del tha Funkee Homosapien and other gilded-age West Coast rappers pledging allegiance to 93 'til Infinity. That scene's unerring boom bap, positivity, wit, and reverence for Nixon-era funk and jazz will always strike a deeply nostalgic nerve in the way the Nuggets comps do for certain rock fans. An ultracompetent MC covering familiar ground, Tulsi benefits from production supplied by Omid, 7L, Confidence, and other solid beat merchants. "Even Rip Van Winkle couldn't sleep on this," Tulsi observes on album standout "Headcrack." Word. Chop Suey, 1325 E Madison St, 324-8000, 8 pm—2 am, $8 adv, all ages.
TUESDAY JANUARY 23
As a producer and proprietor of Suction Records, Lowfish (Toronto's Gregory de Rocher) keeps the retro-electro-bleep flag flying. Now, a lot of retro electro can sound overly enthralled with its '80s progenitors. Thankfully, Lowfish appears to have absorbed some sonic developments since the Reagan era. Although I prefer his earlier, weirder IDM-ish output (see 1999's Fear Not the Snow and Other Lo-fiing Objects), Lowfish's more recent material abounds with both winsomely tuneful electro pop and Ectomorph-ish menace, which are delightfully old-school in execution yet not marred by stifling reverence for the past. Baltic Room, 1207 E Pine St, 625-4444, 9 pm—2 am, $10, 21+.