Published: December 4, 2013
Story by: Ellie Salrin
Photos by: Zak Littrell
Joy pulsed through my veins as I stepped through the threshold into the St. Louis utopia for art, music, and good vibes - 2720 Cherokee. I’d been looking forward to this show all month and the moment was finally here. A fantastic offering of sexy electro-soul bass music from a few of the industry’s rising stars. And one particular saxophone-wielding Detroit native who I hadn’t seen play since his new album, Rebel Era, dropped in October.
Manic Focus had just kicked things off when I arrived. Classically trained in piano and overflowing with whomptastic beats and flirty melodies, he got the dancefloor bouncing in no time at all. Oh and of course a good dose of dirty hip-hop for good measure. Manic (aka John McCarten) has some killer tracks up his sleeve, including outrageous remixes ( Two Fresh and Eliot Lipp), collaborations with Michal Menert and Haywyre, and on the heels of an album release in September; this guy is on the up and up. By the time he dropped a filthy “Colt 45,” any semblance of order in the venue had vanished and shit was going down.
Next up, producer on the Pretty Lights Music (PLM) roster with a vivacious sound and energy - SuperVision. Oh boy was he ready; he threw out a nonstop sonic assault of grimy, soulful bass with badass hip-hop and vocal samples. A cohort of Derek Vincent Smith and Michal Menert since he met them in the early 2000’s in Colorado, SuperVision (aka Richard Hansen) brings over twelve years of production expertise to the table. On this particular evening, we were treated to some balls-to-the-wall renditions like Jay-Z’s “Can I Get A,” and Rage Against The Machine’s “Bulls on Parade.” The booty shaking was well under way.
Booty shaking you say? Cue GRiZ (aka Grant Kwiecinski) to the stage. Producer of funky electronic bass music, he incorporates saxophone and guitar into his tracks which give it that extra level of enticement and soul. Teetering on the edge of stardom in 2012, this year he’s straight killin’ it with a stellar new album, non stop touring, and launching his own record label Liberated Music. He is on top of his game and it showed from the second his set began. The first note of “Gettin’ Live” sounded impeccable on 2720’s system and this luscious sound continued for nearly two hours. The saxophone coalesced perfectly with breathtaking basslines as his guitarist MuzzY joined for some funky contributions. Things were starting to get very rowdy.
GRiZ, from behind an impressive new LED light setup, opted for a few other songs off Rebel Era, like especially funkalicious and bouncy “DTW to DIA”. Other standouts were “Where’s the Love” and “Smash the Funk” off his Mad Liberation album, “Digital Liberation is Mad Freedom,” from his collaboration with Gramatik (Grizmatik), Snoop Dogg’s “The Next Episode,” George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic’s “We Want the Funk,” War’s “Low Rider,” and Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” as well as some fresh unreleased ish. All at unbelievably crushing levels of bass. So crispy. Everyone I talked to was blown away by his set...his unrelenting energy just bursting with talent. This is why he was declared The Untz’s number one breakout EDM artist.
I was definitely expecting the soul and the funk that night. Which was delivered 100%. But what I was not expecting was the marvelous amount of old school hip hop. All three artists got down and dirty on some gangster shit and had the whole club Poppin. Off.
The event’s success was due largely in part to its promoter Connector Presents. Spearheaded by venue owner (Eric Noble of 2720), and Spankalicious (aka Kevin Moore), the production company knows what it takes to put on a show that blows people away. The glorious art gallery/music venue that is 2720 was overflowing with positive energy. The crowd this event drew was borderline too many, but the production and sound quality was flawless, the stage setup on point, and thank goodness 2720 scooped this opportunity before GRiZ completely blows up and no longer fits in venues of that size.
Next thing I knew I was in a car with MuzzY, Pleasure, and my best friend Bird speeding down I-55 towards the after party. Also produced by Connector, the show took over Tif’s on the Landing in the Laclede’s Landing historic district. Pleasure (aka Sean McCarthy) has been all up in Team Supreme’s cyphers as well as started his own beat collective Trill Kill Kult, while repping the Connector roster and designing duds for Burning Artists Collective alongside ill-esha. He brings this variable artistic nature to his performances, dropping tracks with sexy female vocal samples, incredible trappy rhythms, or masterful melodies, all with a complexity that caresses the ears.
MuzzY (aka Dan Hacker) was ready to bring this night of debauchery through to fruition. Mostly overshadowed by his guitar collabs with GRiZ, the man is an incredible producer of soul-hop with tremendous bass overtones. Blending old with new, he combines a heavy influence of Motown soul and funk with modern basslines and hip hop. Scrumptious, funky beats were thrown down as we all relished in the loveliness that was this music-filled evening.
This was a night that truly inspired. These are artists that spend their waking life consumed by their art form. And it shows in their music’s ability to transport people to another time and place, to let loose and enjoy life. The level of craftsmanship when it comes to bass music is continuing to soar.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Grant which was released with Rebel Era.
“Taking every single moment that I wasn’t on stage and dedicating it to developing ideas of sound; at times, left me breathless and laid out on the floor of my room with songs on repeat – anxious thoughts melting away into space.
But thats the thing. I’ve found that music sets me free. Its up to us to use that which is most compelling and manifest a new reality. One free of apathy. A world of compassion, empathy and cooperation. A world of action of and love.”
If we could all bring this type of energy to our own unique passions, imagine what a world this would be.