Recently, a friend of mine who used to throw parties (or "raves," for you Anglophiles) mentioned to me that he thought it might be the right time to get back in that business. Sure, people are still throwing massive parties, but for the last several years electronic music has existed more and more in nightclubs, bars, and traditional venues and less frequently in weird warehouses and the like. There are any number of reasons behind this shift—a changing political/legal climate, a depressed economy, an increasing demand for urban real estate—but the result is that electronic music tends to happen in less interesting places these days (although it's arguably easier to seek out).
Well, at least one New Year's Eve event this year is seriously beating my friend to the punch by throwing a huge party in a converted historic West Seattle schoolhouse. School House Rawk is the joint production of Decibel, Flight to Mars, and the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, where the event takes place. The party hosts Decibel's well-loved KV2 soundsystem, visuals by Killing Frenzy and Scott K James, four bars, catered pizza, and most importantly, three rooms of uncompromisingly high-quality house, techno, and ambient/dub.
Chief among this talent is Berlin's Ben Kingsley of electronic music, Thomas Fehlmann (Kompakt). Fehlmann has wowed Seattle crowds twice in as many years with sets ranging from thoughtful dub to deeply textured minimal techno, cementing his status as a Decibel Festival favorite. Opening for the veteran artist in the Decibel room is another perennial festival highlight, Seattle's own Jerry Abstract (Shitkatapult). Jerry's live sets bend and buckle under the weight of his gnarly original productions, and his DJ sets showcase only the finest, hardest techno and electro. Earlier in the night, this room will host Portland's Let's Go Outside, Krakt's Kristina Childs, Nora Posch, and a very special surprise guest.
Headlining the Flight to Mars room are bicoastal house freaks Synth Club, whose live take on vocal house is enough to win over skeptics of the genre, such as myself. Reggie Watts sings with both impressive range and tasteful restraint, allowing his voice to blend in with Sean Horton's improvised beats and the band's agile live synthesis, as well as many of the other instruments at the Club's disposal. Warming up this room are DJs Diem, Sweet Chris Bell, Whatever, and Stick Yo Hand in the Dirt. (I'd hate to think what will happen if Let's Go Outside and Stick Yo Hand in the Dirt wind up in some battle of the imperatives, but it'd probably end up pretty messy.)
Finally, there's the proverbial "chill-out tent," only this tent is actually an old classroom, complete with blackboard and American flag (at least in the promo picture). Local treasure and Ghostly International artist Lusine will lead the class with a set of his detailed ambient experiments. Kris Moon's recent dub set opening for Jan Jelinek proved the ever-versatile DJ a skilled minimalist composer as well. Opening this room are Greg Skidmore and Chris West.
The brains behind School House Rawk have dug deep to find a location every bit as inspired as their lineup is talented, and the result will undoubtedly be one of the city's best New Year's parties.Beat Connections
FRIDAY 12/29AARON LACRATE Death of the Party continually brings only the most hyped DJs to Seattle, and Aaron LaCrate is no exception. LaCrate is responsible, along with Hollertronix DJ Low Budget, for the essential, if critically divisive, genre manifesto Bmore Gutter Music, released on his own Milkcrate Records label. His forthcoming solo production debut, Bodymore, Murdaland features guest appearances ranging from Juelz Santana to Uf?e to Gutter’s breakout star, Amanda Blank. Expect his DJ set to be full of delightfully cheap beats, raunchy raps, and that ubiquitous gutter music. With Fourcolorzack, Pretty Titty. Neumo’s, 925 E Pike St, 709-9467, 9 pm, $7, 21+.
SUNDAY DECEMBER 31NYE @ LO_FI PERFORMANCE GALLERY If West Seattle is a little far out, consider spending New Year’s Eve at Lo_Fi instead. The building might not be as unusual as Schoolhouse’s, but the lineup is nearly as stacked with local talent. In the main room, Jacob London headlines with a rare live set, Kid Hops battles SunTzu Sound, and Truckasaurus ?ex their considerable audio/visual muscles. Fourthcity holds it down in the lounge with live sets by E.R. Don and Absolute Madman, and DJ sets from Hidden Habitats and Introcut. After hours, the Shameless crew takes over with performances by Recess, Jen Wolfe, Tekgnosis, MC Anton Bomb, and live visuals by Pixel?ip. Lo_Fi Performance Gallery, 429 Eastlake Ave E, www.lo?seattle.org, 9 pm, $15 adv/$20 DOS, 21+.
ARCANA NYE MASQUERADE If Lo_Fi and Schoolhouse Rawk don’t quite satisfy your taste for Magic: The Gathering–style fantasy, then this is the party for you. Uniting Souls, In?nite Connections, and Iosis Art Party have enlisted not only international house/goa/tribal/trance talent but also multiple mask makers to provide revelers with on-site costuming. Their press release says, “In the anonymity of masks comes the freedom to express,” and it certainly works on the message boards. CHAC, 1621 12th Ave, 388-0569, 9 pm, $30 adv/$35 DOS, 21+.