Converse presented PBW's 999, Peanut Butter Wolf spinning videos at 9 clubs in the L.A. area, 9 days in a row in 9 area codes.
Day 7: Riverside at More Fire Mondays
Hadn’t been there for a show before and had no idea what to expect. I heard that one room was hip hop and the other reggae, but wasn’t sure where I’d be playing. I got to the hotel at around 3 and stayed in it all day long. Caught up on blogging and getting sets together too. I was staying at this really nice hotel that was only $100 a night. Couldn’t believe it was so cheap.
Got to the club and it wasn’t anything at all like I thought it would be. The reggae was upstairs and had a dedicated crowd who were dancing to all the new dancehall stuff. I was impressed to be in a club where I didn’t know any of the music, yet everyone was dancing. Noticed right away that nobody there knew who I was and just came for what happens there week after week. I knew this would be the hardest of all the nights for me to make a positive impact on the crowd. I went downstairs and it was a lot more current than my 90’s theme. I spoke to the promoter and he was really cool about it. He gave me the option to do the videos upstairs or just do regular audio downstairs in the big room. Neither of us could decide. I really wanted to be respectful to the people who paid their money to hear a certain thing. It was ironic that I was wearing a “parental advisory: explicit lyrics” t-shirt, cuz it seemed like me switching shit up was gonna start a riot. I went through my sets for day 7, 8, and 9 and put together an impromptu set of stuff that was more familiar. I only had around 20 reggae vids from the 90’s but put some of those in too, even though the reggae I had was more of reggae over hip hop beats like Bobby Konders and Supercat. At first, it was a little awkward, but eventually, the people who came for 999 were all in the room and it was a great vibe. I was sober for the second night in a row, so no mic action and a little more mixing and less slamming stuff in or scratching, but overall I enjoyed it. The video screen was smaller than what I’m used to, but it was all good. A b-boy circle started and people were really going for it. They loved when I played more of the breakbeat type hip hop like “Don’t Sweat The Technique” or “Case Of P.T.A.”. I ended up playing longer than I planned and I was afraid that I was running out of songs or playing myself out, but it worked out fine. Until we left the venue.
As we were leaving, I noticed one of the security guards sprinting out the door towards the parking lot. Then we heard around 10 gunshots. I couldn’t help but wonder if he accidentally ran right into the line of fire. The crowd panicked and ran back into the venue. I thought I was gonna get trampled over. Al, the photographer grabbed me and had me duck down with him. We waited for the chaos to stop. Someone in the crowd yelled, “this is nothing. I’m from the Boogie Down Bronx where they really get down”. People weren’t sure how long to wait in the club, but eventually everyone left. I read the newspaper the next day to make sure nobody was killed, but couldn’t find anything on the incident. Was definitely an action packed day 7 though.
Day 8: Fullerton at Continental Room
Day 8 was the best so far. Everything went right. I kinda went into it feeling like it would be good because every time I’ve done a gig there (from the shows I’ve done with Dam-Funk, to Mayer Hawtorne’s first show with a live band), it has gone well. Also, my heartburn/dizziness I’ve had for the past few days had completely gone away.
The sound wasn’t great and the setup wasn’t ideal for video, but none of that mattered. You couldn’t beat the vibe or the crowd. Those are the types of parties that DJs live for. The promoter Bobby Soul has done a great job creating my favorite party in OC. We’ve done Stones Throw nights with Dam-Funk and myself and Mayer Hawthorne even did his first show with a live band EVER in this venue a couple months ago. Bobby was one of the first guys I called when putting together 999 to tell him I wanted his night to be part of it and to pick his brain about what other OC clubs were good for the other area codes.
So I got to the club early to let the opening DJ Cole use my computer cuz he didn’t have a laptop with Serato in it. Cole is the guitarist for Ariel Pink and co-producer for Nite Jewel on a lot of stuff, but besides this, he’s a record collector who’s part of a really cool blog. I thought it would be good to have Cole open cuz I wanted to expose the crowd to different stuff and plus I wanted to hear it. He did great and Bobby told me he wanted to book him again. Rhett and Bobby Soul also did well as usual. Ariel Pink was in the house as was Dam-Funk and Tony from No Doubt.
I wanted to start my set with this death metal song that I came across and showed my friends backstage, but when it came time to play, I chickened out. I started off in the slow tempos as I have during all the shows. Makes me realize why I played so much hip hop at these shows. I always start at a hip hop tempo and before you knew it, my time would be up before I was able to play the other stuff. I’m kinda bummed that I played “Gypsy Woman” by Crystal Waters cuz I didn’t even like that song in the 90’s and still don’t like it now. Not even as a novelty. Sometimes you throw a familiar one in there for the drunks in the house. I tried to do a live re-edit to take out the “la la dee la da daa” parts, but even that didn’t help. I wish I had the In Living Color version. There were some songs that I don’t play so much any more that sounded great, like the “Take It Personal” video by Gangstarr. Tonight reconfirmed that that’s my favorite Gangstarr song. I felt more comfortable on the mic too. Usually, if I don’t feel like talking, I stay quiet even though I know it helps the crowd to interact. Rhett held it down for me on the mic anyway, but I like to grab the mic from him every now and then if I have something relevant to say. I played “Choice Is Yours” for the first time in a long time because it’s over played, but told the crowd about how Charizma and I opened for Black Sheep when that song first came out so I thought it was relevant to play. Speaking of overplayed, I ended the night with a live version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. I don’t think I’ve ever played it in a club before tonight, but I thought the live version was cool cuz it’s faster, more raw, and most people never saw or heard that version. Besides the songs I just mentioned, I didn’t play many hits. That’s what’s been most fun about 999. I get to play random stuff too.
I gotta say these last few days reminded me that I take my good health for granted until I get sick. Day 6 and 7 were really negatively affected by it and today, it was the biggest contributor to doing well. Reminds me not to judge people who seems cranky or in a bad mood cuz you never know what they’re going through.
Day 9: Venice at The Yard
I was up until 4 AM the night before, so I planned on sleeping in, but by 9 AM, I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. I knew there was too much to do to prep and I don’t even mean in terms of my set. I was hosting the party so had to get there early to set up, work on sound, work out DJ set times, call all the DJs, etc. I did have to at the very least put a bunch of videos I was considering playing in the itunes folder for the night, so I did that first. I left Fullerton at around 2 PM after a quick burger at In & Out and got to my house to grab some 90’s clothes and pick up Nic, who’s really had my back on a lot of the shows, and we head to the West Side to get to the venue. We meet Tim and Lisa there and get to work. In the meantime, my phone is non-stop. Texting, emails, phone calls. I can’t get back to everyone, so here’s my open apology. I do tell everyone I know ahead of time that if you decide to come, come early or there’s nothing I can do for you. Tonight, I realize that was the case even more than normal.
The idea was to have 9 DJs and have them all play 90’s. The problem was, when I rounded up that many DJs, it was with the intention of going for 9 hours (from 6PM-3AM). Realized later that it would be too long a party, so we changed it to 9-2. Then with the noise complaints, we had to stop the party at 1, so that left us with 5 hours for 9 DJs.
Besides the stress of the guest list and all the people who couldn’t get in throughout the night, it was a great party. I love the space and the sound system and the DJs all played their part. Was also excited to get the 999 shirts from Converse and we gave gift bags to the first 250 people. And the fact that they let me design my own shoe that we gave out to a few people that night too was awesome. Much props to Greg at Converse, who made it all possible and flew out from Boston just for the night. He’s been a Stones Throw supporter since his days at Nike when he let me design my own Dunk several years ago. Thanks to Fusicology, Vapors, Flavorpill, and KCRW who all helped get the word out too and to Venice Beach Wines and Mathieu for the organizing.
Everyone I talked to about the event had a different favorite DJ from the night, which was a really good compliment to everyone who spun. I missed some of the earlier sets because I was waiting in line for a drink in the other room for so long, as well as dealing with people who couldn’t get in. I caught most of Romes’s set and was glad to hear a Supercasanova Rud song from the 90’s I didn’t know. Rhett did a great job as usual, even though I had to hear most of it from the other room. By this time, it was crisis after crisis from people who couldn’t get in. I also did a little catch up with Madlib who I haven’t really had the chance to see much of lately. I caught the first couple songs from Mayer then got dragged away, but got compliments from people on his Detroit booty music he played. I was glad he was able to bless the turntables even though his record release party was the next night. J Rocc did a little bit of everything and somehow, I ended up on the mic for him. My favorite part was when he went through every played out hit for 4 bars one after the other. A-Trak really made it happen too. I was so thankful that he was able to come out just for this “house party” when he had just been out here a week ago for AM’s memorial. Lots of flying and I would’ve understood if he cancelled my event due to the circumstances, but he came through and repped. It was cool that he brought out Steve Aoki and Samantha Ronson, who I got to meet for the first time. The crowd was so nutty for him too. I went to the bathroom and someone said, “that’s gonna be hard to follow”, but I wasn’t worried about it. I was excited for everyone.
I purposely put an itunes folder together of more underground stuff than I had been playing for the rest of the tour. A-Trak told me he didn’t have anything super planned and was gonna wing it, which made me feel like we were on the same page. I had a folder of stuff to choose from, but basically freestyled my set. The sound was great for the guys who played before me, but by the time I went on, they had to turn it down, which kinda impacted my set, but it wasn’t the end of the world or anything. After me, they turned it down even more for Arabian Prince and Dam was set to close out the night. He asked me if he should even go on and I felt bad and didn’t know what to tell him. If I were in his shoes, I’d probably just not played cuz the sound was so quiet and people seemed ready to leave anyway, but I said, “it’s up to you Dam. If you sit this out, I wouldn’t blame you, but if you wanna play some stuff, all good too.” He decided to go on anyway and people were loving it. He ended with “Hood Pass Intact” and sang on top of it and the crowd came back to life. Eek-A-Mouse was in the crowd, and jumped on the mic (or should I say headphones that we used as a mic) and sang on top of Dam’s track. This all reminded me of what Dam is capable of as a DJ/MC/artist.
This was truly the event I wanted it to be and everyone in the room was all smiles. At my Fullerton show the night before, I said on the mic that it was the best show of the tour so far and would be hard to beat, but the party on the 9th actually beat it. One of my favorite parties I’ve ever been involved in, so I wanna thank EVERYONE for a great end to a memorable 9 nights for me.
Photos: Al Myers; Video: Henry DeMaio