One night in the early '00s, I went to a party in Brooklyn with a dance-music-loving friend who disdained Fleetwood Mac. This surprised me, though maybe it shouldn’t have—Fleetwood Mac’s ubiquitous popularity is pretty easy to pick on. That night, a few of us drifted into a side room, and someone put on a Mac best-of CD.
I flipped forward to “You Make Loving Fun” off Rumours, and boogied down with a woman I’d never seen before and would never see again. Suddenly, my friend later told me, he got Fleetwood Mac, by paying attention to the rhythm section. John McVie on bass and Mick Fleetwood on drums didn’t just rock and/or roll, they grooved, and not just on a quasi-disco number like “You Make Loving Fun,” either.
So clearly an entire night’s worth of Fleetwood Mac grooves—original, officially remixed, and unofficially re-edited—was a no-brainer for a dance party by the time Fleetmac Wood came around in 2012. The brainchild of DJ-promoters Lisa Jelliffe (aka Roxanne Roll) and Alex Oxley (aka Mister Sushi), Fleetmac Wood takes place semi-annually all over the US and Canada, as well as in the original band’s native London, cycling through Mac grooves (“No covers!” they promise) from throughout the band’s history—though, of course, the heavy emphasis is on the '70s and '80s, when Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks began sharing the focus with the rhythm section and keyboardist-singer-songwriter Christine McVie.
Five years on, the Wood is back, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Rumours with—what else?—a “Rumours Rave,” which hits Barboza this weekend. It’s the duo’s third time playing Seattle. Jelliffe and Oxley both like the Northwest—when I saw Fleetmac Wood last year, at Portland’s Holocene, the sheer amount of black lace and berets made it a veritable Night of a Thousand Stevies. (They also broke their own rule by dropping Prince’s “Controversy”—it was right after he’d died—directly after Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back,” which Prince famously plays on.) “People here seem to like the music and also enjoy dressing up,” notes Jelliffe. “We’ve always been really impressed by how creative the Pacific Northwest audience is.”
Like the mixed British-American makeup of the “classic” Mac, Fleetmac Wood’s principals came together from afar: Jelliffe was an Australian ex-pat in London when she met Oxley, who was born in Sheffield. Both were DJs: “Collecting records has been at the forefront of my life for the past 19 years,” says Oxley. “I was fascinated with electronic music, and the power of rave culture as a unifier of people.”
Jelliffe had even more specific ideas. “I always liked to play Fleetwood Mac in my sets and had been plotting this night for many years,” she says. “Fleetwood Mac was always being played at house parties but not in clubs. There seemed to be a weird separation in the music that was deemed correct in nightclubs and what people enjoyed listening to.
After wanting to put on an immersive Fleetwood Mac-only night for years, Jelliffe says the explosion in vintage edits on SoundCloud she started hearing made it feel like the time was right. “It was always going to be a polarizing idea, and that makes it interesting. It’s an amazing people filter. You are there for the music and not to be cool.”
The first Fleetmac Wood took place “in basement bar in Shoreditch,” says Jelliffe. “We got quite a few of our producer friends involved and set a deadline for new edits.” Six hours later, the promoters knew they had a hit.
“Dance music can be a little serious at times, and I think a sense of humor is vital. We’re really trying to create a joyful space, whilst really diving deep into the endless back catalogue of Fleetwood Mac. What’s really great about our nights is the diversity of ages and different types of people who like Fleetwood Mac. Some even bring their parents. There’s a lot of young fans who really feel like this music is their own, not their parents’. It’s not just a nostalgic thing.”