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  John Digweed 11.27.99
Photos by Wendy Huber

Venue: Celebration Hall (aka The Church) - Atlanta, GA
Presented by: Liquid Groove

Matt B. and the power of Freak Force.What a weekend! Completely exhausting and terrible for my bout with the flu and my boss thinks I'm an idiot now, but an inspiring adventure nonetheless. Even though coming into the weekend, I felt a little apprehensive about the quality of music out right now, I was about to be reassured that it still flows freely for the Brits. To clarify that last statement, I just feel bombarded and a bit desensitized by all of the new music out lately. With the recent release of the incredible Global Underground compilations GU013 (mixed by Sasha) & GU014 (mixed by Digweed), AND my personal favorite, Digger's Bedrock compilation, I just felt like there wouldn't be much out that we haven't heard. Plus, I went on a buying frenzy of records this weekend & really combed through everything out right now twice over. After playing a six-hour set at Karma Friday night, I could say that I'd really over-exposed myself to progressive music (and if you know me, you know that I can rarely ever get enough good choons)!

But, needless to say, I was still pumped on seeing Digweed. We had some friends in from DC, who came down for the Sasha party, so our main concern was just that Digweed would show up and play. I assured them that Liquid Groove really has had an exemplary track record of throwing the best parties with the fewest complications and no-shows. (And to that point I'd like to add that I think that until one has thrown a large-scale party like these, you have no idea what kinds of jack-wipes there are lurking in this industry and how complicated it is to get anything accomplished. Just something to think about before lambasting your local promoters for one thing or another.)

What's hardcore? How about traveling from Arizona?We all had a big event-dinner at Dante's Down the Hatch (which was great fun) before the party, so we got a later jump on it. Really, it was all part of the plan, since after waiting for well over an hour to get into the Halloween party (while my friend is on crutches!!) in the cold, we weren't too down with that this time. So, we show up about twenty 'til three and there was still a huge friggin' line! On the way from the parking lot, we actually saw Digweed entering the building, so at least that fear was put to rest. Fortunately, LG was allowing ticket-holders to skate most of the line and get right in, so that didn't take too long. The security was pretty tight, but with all of the stupidity and misfortunes of late, and in a sketchy neighborhood like that, it was a good thing. (Although I could have done without getting the full-cavity search performed by what was not my idea of a "dream date.")

So, when all was said and done, we got in right as John was dropping his first track. Excellent. Things appeared to be moving right on time. Although, I was a little hacked off to find that everyone else's time slots had been rearranged and we had already missed Kazell's set — with no real prior notice to us. I even checked right before I left for any possible updates, but I found nothing. Shitty. Anyways, John was on, so it was ok.

Digweed started out strong out of the box. Although, his first hour consisted of almost every other track being one off of his compilations. No complaints from the crowd, though. It actually helped work everyone in with some familiar tunes, before hitting the acetates. We heard everyone's favorite over-played BT song "Mercury & Solace" (which was well-placed), Digger's blend of two versions of his own Bedrock "Heaven Scent," Origin's rockin' remix of God Within's "Phoenix," Cass v. Slide, and too many more to name. John worked the crowd into a frenzy utilizing his methodic, grinding, techy/tribal groove that has proven so effective in his Twilo residency with missing cohort, Sasha.

John DigweedAll of this leading up to what seemed to be the boiling point for most of the crowd, including myself. Digweed completely mystified the crowd, everyone's hands in the air, for the operatic breakdown of Luzon's "The Baguio Track," which I considered to be the "anthem" of the night. John's use of multiple copies of this track with it's tear-jerking vocals and uplifting trance, taking us back to his Renaissance residency days, kept everyone dancing and screaming through what seemed to be a good 15-20 minutes (even though the mix got away from him a bit). That seemed to be the point at which he switched his style to the more "Progressive" Trance sound, incorporating much more heavy synth riffs, and melodic charges. For the most part, the tracks after this point seemed to be unreleased stuff that was nothing short of top notch. Track after track the Brit pounded the crowd like the Coronas he was throwing back (God, I wanted one of those!). A relentless beating by nasty basslines and punchy rhythms, strung together so tightly like only Digweed can. He is such a true technician behind the decks. He appeared to be mixing effortlessly working three decks. If the sound had been up to par (which might be the only REAL complaint from me on the night), my heart might have pounded out of my chest. Digweed finally slammed the crowd with "New York FM" from his and Sasha's secret-trick-up-their-sleeves-producers, Breeder, before turning over the bad-ass new silver Sony headphones to Debo to close out the nite.

Yer shows what it's all about.Debo's set was the "sleeper-hit" of the nite. I've heard Digweed many times, so I knew he'd rock. I've actually even seen Debo several times (the last time, he had on big, furry cow pants!), but I didn't really know what he was playing these days and I was pleasantly surprised. Debo started in with a deep techy sound of tracks like Sloshi's remix of X-Track's "Plan 94" (a favorite off of my own cd), and a few others. His mixing was a bit rocky thru the first 3-4 mixes, so I took a break for a cig. Then, after I came back from hiding out like a sixteen-year-old in the basement to smoke (so the security wouldn't take my cigarettes up), Debo was totally rocking. He had stepped it up to a much more pumpin' beat and was mixing very skillfully. Tracks like Jimpy "Talkin'" kept everybody movin'. The crowd was thinning out, but still tearing up tha dancefloor. (Literally. The makeshift linoleum dance floor was torn to shreds after Digweed's set. Some kid was actually standing in the middle of the room handing out pieces of it!) I kept thinking I couldn't move my feet anymore, but then I realized that they were just stuck to the ground by the duct tape that remained on the carpet after the floor was gone. One of the best moments of the nite was after the lights came on and I was dancing with Kazell and my friend Sven (who gets maad props for his enduring stamina) while Debo was on, and we were all looking up and pointing and screaming to Digweed, who was standing off to the side on the balcony as he gave us a big salute, right before the security hearded us off.

Devin and ChristianAll in all, a great night that went off without too many hitches. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the after session I was invited to. But, I wanted to give total props to Nasir and the Iris/Esp101 crew for finding a dope venue. It was a blast hanging with you guys and I can't wait to spin with you. Props to all my homies...Sven "Daddy Trance" with that maad dancing and stamina, Karl, TJ and Reggie for hangin' in the corner all nite, Kazell for always bringing that beaming glow of joy no matter when or where — even though most of us djs can't dance, Cam for never leaving the dancefloor, Tickler for the dopest shirt in the club, Chuck Farley and MZ gettin' crixpy in da crub, Dawn and her crew (even though I lost you!), Ronnie and Dan and all of the other first-time Digweed partiers — welcome to the club, thanks to everyone else that made the nite and vibe so great, and of course thank you Damien, Devin, LG, John Digweed, John Debo, and all the others involved in making a great party!

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