Sunday, April 13th, I arrived home at 5:20AM after a night/morning at the Works. My feet were sore and my ears were still picking up a distant, imagined sound. At a certain point that morning, my legs took on a mind of their own – they were in control and I was a puppet to their flow. It amazes me that the body can assume this subconscious mastery of movement when given the influence of music. When we let ourselves go, we find ourselves again – we find ourselves in an entirely different way, different motion, different rhythm, a new creation, a new form and position of being. My experience at Konkrete Jungle Detroit’s “Rewind” was just that, finding myself. I find myself again when I am with my closest friends, when I am hearing my favorite music, when I am dancing like there’s no tomorrow. Every KJD experience is like this for me. It’s a night I look forward to for months. It’s a night that will never disappoint me. And I will always come home happily with aching feet and ringing ears.
I arrived at the Works around 11:30PM Saturday, April 12th. I had my lovely friend from Ohio with me. She comes up for every KJD show and I usually only see her when there is one. It’s that important to her and it’s that important to me – that we get together to experience this music. When we entered the Works, we were instantly met by two more near & dear friends. We moved to the speakers to greet others we only see at these events. Despite the frequency of these interactions, I call all of these people near & dear to me. We have known each other for years. We’ve seen each other grow and change. Every month or two at these shows, we see each other again and more words are added to our stories.
Konkrete Jungle Detroit’s own Ronin Selecta & Joey P. had a good amount of people gathered in front of the front room speakers. They were tag teamin’ DNB with perfect attention to what it needed to be. Ronin Selecta is one of the most learned drum n’ bass DJs I know. He stays on top of the newest releases and presents them with tact. Joey P. comes up with some of the heaviest, dirtiest tracks I’ve heard and sets ’em down like they’re on fire. Naw, fiyah! This is that junglist fiyah and it’s spreading through the room, igniting spirits and bodies! The two badass DJs from Ann Arbor handled their mixing like craftsman. And I swear they must have been collaborating on their track selection for quite some time. Or were just incredibly in sync with each other and the audience, which would be expected of two KJD staples.
When I hear DNB or jungle, I am instantly in a trance. My feet pick up and my hips start shakin’. I can’t help it! Music I enjoy penetrates the shell I wear and spreads inside me like a warm liquid. Whiskey does this for people. Tea does this for people. Jungle does this for me. I am warmed to the very core and I feel completely at ease. My body relaxes and I am able to move freely. Everything inside me begins to move with the music, like it is swept up by that warm liquid and it is rushing through me. Already, I was riding the waves through a powerful sea and I couldn’t think of any place I’d rather be. Then I remembered the back room. I tore myself away from Ronin and Joey and wandered into the hall. Bass began to rattle me. I stepped into the back and was momentarily discombobulated. There were lasers flashing about and there was a bright screen behind the DJ booth where twisted, trippy visuals were careening. Oktored was tucked behind the left speaker, creating and conducting the projection. Calico was standing behind CDJs on stage, a dark figure in front of the visual display. His music is undefinable but it can be described as dark heavy bass. It’s as if he were controlling these giant organic machines, finessing his control panel as an expert machinist. There was a crowd in front of this and they were wide-eyed and awestruck.
Back in the front room, Joey P. handed the speakers over to DJ V1rus. I saw V1rus the Tuesday prior at a Comfort Food show. He wowed me with his mastery of the turntables. V1rus brought that fine turntablism to the Works with some hip hop, b-boy funk, and a whole bag of goodies. I heard A Tribe Called Quest mixed with Portishead and it blew my mind. At one point I even heard a Bonobo track. I loved being able to groove to the tunes. Beside me, two b-boys got down to the floor and were flyin’. They were spinnin’ into some helicopters and jumpin’ back up to lay down some fancy footwork. The great creation of music through mixin’, cuttin’ and scratchin’ inspires this great creation of movement through break-dancing. Hell, regular dancing is pretty great too. And we junglists can get down wit some footwork. DJ V1rus provided the inspiration to do so.
In the back room, Jared Wilson was playing an acid house set. I shook off some of that V1rus fever with a few pleasant dance partners. It was great that two totally diverse genres of music were going off in the front and back, and both rooms were full of incredibly appreciative people. They demonstrated their love for the music with smiles, vibes, and movement. I was touched to see this. In the front room, Brian Gillespie took over as a last minute stand-in for Scott Zacharias. He kept the b-boy crew goin’ with disco, breaks, and funk. And I couldn’t help not to bust out some moves for some beats. Though I’d been looking forward to a particular set and went back to the back.
Konkrete Jungle Detroit’s Mark “8en” Moss promised a 91′-93′ UK hardcore breakbeat set and Damn, did he deliver! Mark Moss has been impressing me lately – a few weeks ago with an old school techno set, and then this terrific old school hardcore/jungle set. I watched this guy perform and I could imagine him digging through crates of records for those perfect pairs, chiseling down to just the thing he was looking for. My girl friends and I were in front of the left speaker, gettin’ down like it’s nothin’. These are those moments that last forever in your spirit. We would never forget that feeling. I had been sober all night but I felt drunk with the spirit within me. There is pride in this city, with these people, and I knew that night I was seeing a beautiful demonstration of this. And I felt pride in being a part of it.
At 2:30AM, Soundmurderer & SK-1 appeared on stage. I could feel the fascinated anticipation collecting in the room. These two men are jungle legends, absolutely prolific to the genre. If you are a jungle fan like I am, you know their music. I am ecstatic every chance I get to see them. And to have KJD bring so many influential genres into one venue for one night to build up to this was righteous. Soundmurderer is just one of the aliases of Todd Osborn, a man who accumulated a vast musical repertoire as proprietor of the Ann Arbor record store, Dubplate Pressure. He has been producing old-school ragga jungle as Soundmurderer since before it was “old school” and created the label Rewind! Records to share it. Tadd Mullinex (SK-1) also hails from Ann Arbor. Under the name Dabrye, he’s been releasing albums on Ghostly International, another A2 record label. Dabrye is well-known for his instrumental hip hop. The two, as Soundmurderer & SK-1, have been feeding the scene with classic jungle for years and they played each one of those ground-breaking hits for us. I was in that wonderful warming trance again. My body was a puppet to the flow. “Bad Sound”, “Tel’embodanustyle”, “Dangerous”, “Call da Police!” Everybody scream! On the projector, Oktored distorted clips from Fantastic Planet, King of the Hill, and dancing kitty videos. I laughed. MC Bombscare had the mic and was raisin’ the roof for these fellas. I couldn’t be happier. Legends killin’ sound on the decks, visual artistry behind them, and a wordsmithin’ MC bringin’ up the roar – this was Konkrete Jungle Detroit!
My feet were hurtin’ so bad, but I couldn’t stop dancin’. Soundmurderer & SK-1 finished up though we begged them not to. KJD’s Dilemma stepped in to take control. I thought I’d have a break but he decided to throw down some hardcore jungle too and I had to keep goin’. I escaped for a breather in the front room. DJ Raw Wave had his blend of new disco/new wave pumpin’ up those who couldn’t take the jungle awesomeness. But I was not one of those people and I returned to the back. Dilemma had us goin’ like a room full of Energizer Bunnies, powered up by wonderfully complex rhythms. And we kept goin’ till the music stopped. It was 5AMish and the sound shut down, but I could still hear the noise. I’d even been wearing my fancy ear plugs. I gathered my senses and my friends and we lolly-gagged to the door. We were all elate with the experience and still trembling from the music. Though we went our separate ways into the night. We left fueled by the passion we have for music and for each other. We left with a greater sense of who we are and what we came to do. We found ourselves again. And we will always look forward to the next show.